The John Williams Effect

October 29, 2009 By: erik Category: Music, Offspring, Parenting, Videos, Weird 244 views

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thumbIt’s weird, the songs we sing to our children. When a song is needed to get a baby through a stressful time or maneuver, the parent often doesn’t have time to specifically choose a song for the occasion, the brain is just told to sing, and sing it does.

Recently my brain and I been going through a John Williams phase. I love John Williams’ music. If Beethoven or Bach or the Strauss boys were alive today they’d be scoring movies, too. Different songs come out of me at different times depending on the current parenting operation. When I have to flip her onto her stomach as part of a donning or doffing, the Superman theme comes out as she naturally resembles a flying prone human.

If I’m preparing to perform a task she dislikes, like cleaning her nostrils with a Q-tip, the ominous Imperial March surfaces.

But by far the most common song is the “getting ready for adventure!” theme, that of the Indiana Jones movies. That’s used mainly for getting strapped into either the car seat or the stroller.

  • “If Beethoven or Bach or the Strauss boys were alive today they\’d be scoring movies, too.” Say what? Williams is awesome, but his work has only ever been groundbreaking in the rather prescribed world of soundtracks. I can’t imagine Bach, Beethoven or any composer who is remembered today for shaking the foundations of the CPE musical establishment would get much work scoring major motion pictures. It’s not like today’s avant garde gets much play in anything with a $5+ MM opening weekend.

    • You see? This is why I lace my posts with sweeping poorly thought out generalizations like that.

      I was under the impression that most of the famous composers of yesteryear, like most of the artists, supported themselves by composing music for the extremely wealthy or royalty. It seems to me like the modern day equivalent is Hollywood.

      • Michael

        not only that, their primary function was scoring events. mass, opera, theater, etc. beethoven and bach weren’t the avant garde at all; they were the masters of the establishment.

        • Ok, that’s just cuckoo. The Well-Tempered Clavier wasn’t the leading edge of a groundbreaking change to how European composers viewed music? Beethoven’s heroic phase didn’t spawn a whole new chapter in the CPE?

          • Michael

            Certainly, they were masters and produced masterworks. But what they were doing wasn’t pushing the boundaries of what was culturally acceptable. Fwiw, I don’t think that Williams is particularly talented, or that his music is even vaguely comparable to that produced by the classical masters. I just think that that’s a subjective assessment and not based on his position relative to his peers.

      • Another friend put up some blog post this morning about how the failure of some domino display to collapse correctly was a telling indictment of the Windows OS. It’s like the internets are trying to provoke me today.

        You’re right, and it’s a good point. But I think the analogy is limited in that Bach was employed by the heights of aristocracy to prepare material for the heights of aristocracy. Williams is writing for people who are very careful to not alienate any member of the ticket-buying masses unnecessarily. Any revolution Williams carries out will need to be fairly subtle and slow to unfold.

    • “It\’s not like today\’s avant garde gets much play in anything with a $5+ MM opening weekend.”
      Maybe that depends on what’s considered to be avant-garde. Philip Glass, Michael Myman, Ryuchi Sakamoto and others have all scored medium-sized Hollywood movies.

      • Touche

        • And of course I meant “Nyman”. But you knew that.

  • Intelligent discussions about classical music aside, this video is like balm to someone who’s having a very bad week (that would be me). I may have to watch Nora giggling multiple times today just to get through my day.

    • Thanks! That was the original intent of this post, Andrea. I can never tell when a post might spark a wildfire of discussion.

      And when you’re not at a computer, you can just hum it to yourself and giggle to yourself. 🙂

    • Paul

      Watching Nora giggling like that is music to my ears too. My smiling muscles must be out of shape, because watching this makes my mouth hurt.

      • She laughs like this several times a day. So my smiling muscles are seriously buff.

  • Ines

    at last an american or two I can understand… ;)(the last three commentators that is ) Nora cute as always and you as mad as ever but she seems to like it so carry on, you are a great dad and you know it…people like you should get father of the year award not the likes of julio iglesias…Take care, euskalduna in london