As you’ve observed by now, John Williams is a master of struc...

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As you’ve observed by now, John Williams is a master of structuring long action cues so that they function both physically and psychologically, supporting seen and unseen aspects of the film. The next assignment is designed to help you better appreciate the craft that goes into creating an effective film cue.

Watch the film clip Land Race Cue a few times. It’s another version of the land race sequence from Far and Away, except this time it’s music-only to allow you to focus more on the structure of the score. You’ll notice streamers and punches in several places; these are just for your reference and correspond to the sync points on the accompanying list below. You can also follow along with the supplied sketch of the cue. Notice that the music (for the most part) has a constant pulse, although the meter changes frequently in order to allow themes to enter on significant events in the film.

Williams adapts and reuses several themes heard earlier in the film for this sequence. These include:
- The Fighting Donellys (first heard in the film while in Ireland as Joseph fights with his brothers); heard in this clip at Bar 42, and again at Bar 60
- Joseph and Shannon (often functions as the love theme but is used here to show the connection between the characters as they ride toward their shared goal); heard beginning at Bar 52 and then developed several times
- Finale (used to bring the action home as the characters arrive at their own piece of land); heard at Bar 129
- County Galway (represents the Irish heritage of the immigrants); heard beginning at Bar 144 as we see Shannon’s parents

Answer the following questions about this cue:
Which of the events shown on the list do you feel is the most significant, and why? How do you know?

In the sketch, you will notice several instances of single measures in a different meter than that which came before. Why do you think the composer has chosen to structure the cue in this way?

Compare two different statements of the Joseph-and-Shannon theme, first at 1:35 (Bar 52), and then again at 3:34 (Bar 116). How is the second version different from the first? Compare the emotions created between the two statements; how do they differ?

Besides the obvious sync points already listed, find three other visual events in the cue that Williams supports musically.

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Assignment 13.1. John Williams and the “Land Race” Sequence

1. After watching the scene and listening to the score, which of the events shown on the list do you feel is the most significant, and why? How do you know?

After several times listening to this sequence, it appears that the segment of the following:
2:00 Joseph jumps on horse
2:07 Joseph rides (slow motion sequence)
2:36 Joseph rides through pack
…appears to be the most significant. The previous two minutes are a slow build, both visually and musically; musically, the...

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