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This is a comments thread about Blog Post: It's about time! by Stephen Woolston
 
 Posted:   Jul 21, 2010 - 3:53 PM   
 By:   Faren451   (Member)

Steve,
You mention Barry and Morricone as prime examples of using this time motif to rack up the tension in scores but Roy Budd was also a master at this ticking clock motif in his action scores. Just listen to cues in Diamonds, Foxbat and the Boarding Party cue from The Sea Wolves as proof of this.
Can anyone else think of any other examples of composers using this?

 
 Posted:   Jul 21, 2010 - 4:08 PM   
 By:   Gunnar   (Member)

In HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, Williams uses it in "Forward to time past". It is notable that -- as the protagonists are traveling back in time -- there is a short string motif that is being played backward at the beginning of the cue. Also, a ticking clock runs through the whole piece, so all expression in it comes from harmony, melody and orchestration, but not from changes in tempo or rhythm (although Williams uses syncopation to express the confusing nature of time travel).

 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2010 - 12:26 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

Hi guys,

Cool, yes, bring on the examples. My reference to Barry and Morricone isn't to suggest they're the only ones, I just think of theirs as 'classic' examples!

Cheers

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2010 - 2:09 AM   
 By:   Faren451   (Member)




Another classic example of this time bomb ticking clock type of scoring would have to be John Williams "planting the charges" cue from The Towering Inferno. It really does its job in the film by racking up the tension, infact if I remember there is little or no dialogue in this sequence purely driven by music and great editing.......Ah those were the days when music was not buried in the sound mix!!

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2010 - 4:41 AM   
 By:   Les Jepson   (Member)

A piece of music that appears to retain a constant beat but gets progressively louder can be surprisingly difficult to compose and perform. The human brain interprets louder music as having faster tempi. For example, a successful performance of Ravel's Bolero demands the conductor to gradually slow down the beat as the piece rises in volume, so that the listener perceives a constant beat.

 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2010 - 8:54 AM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

Stephen, The one that instantly came to mind was Rozsa's time travel music for Time After Time where he uses a woodblock (along with pizzicato strings at times) to denote the fast, forward moving ticking of time.

The signature sound of John Ottman's Usual Suspects is a ticking sound used throughout the score to set a determined, yet measured pace for the film.

In the "Dennis Steals the Embryo" cue in Jurassic Park, John Williams uses a pervasive ticking sound played by claves I believe to reflect the countdown started by Dennis's program that stops services throughout the park as well as the countdown until the ship leaves the island.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2010 - 9:21 AM   
 By:   Thor   (Member)

In the "Dennis Steals the Embryo" cue in Jurassic Park, John Williams uses a pervasive ticking sound played by claves I believe to reflect the countdown started by Dennis's program that stops services throughout the park as well as the countdown until the ship leaves the island.

Interesting. I hadn't thought about the cue in that way. I just saw it as a sneaking-around cue.

 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2010 - 10:02 AM   
 By:   WILLIAMDMCCRUM   (Member)

Miklos Rozsa's 'detonator' cue in 'Green Fire' (FSM music only) has ticking clock FX in the OST and it's an electrifying combination.

I'm always intrigued to find out whether melody, harmonics or rhythm dictates a composer's approach to a scene. You can't usually tell from the finished product but one can arise from another.

Not to continually harp on Miklos Rozsa, but his 'El Cid' Overture is an example. The melody is a mediaeval tune from the Montserrat 'Red Book'. The tune itself dictated the ostinato of the rhythm, and it's then clear that the rhythm dictated the fanfares at either end. Then he must've filled in the middle 8 (though it's considerably more than 8!)

Rhythm is sometimes the key to melody, as in much jazz and rock of course. So if you can't think up a motif, start with a scene's rhythm.

 
 Posted:   Jul 22, 2010 - 12:59 PM   
 By:   mark ford   (Member)

In the "Dennis Steals the Embryo" cue in Jurassic Park, John Williams uses a pervasive ticking sound played by claves I believe to reflect the countdown started by Dennis's program that stops services throughout the park as well as the countdown until the ship leaves the island.

Interesting. I hadn't thought about the cue in that way. I just saw it as a sneaking-around cue.


I think the repeated piano figures give it that sneaking around sound while the percussive tick-tocks reflect the time element involved. Two things working at the same time to convey different elements of the scenes. At least that's how it comes across to me anyway.

 
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