Sunday, April 17, 2016
John Williams Appreciation Post: Jaws
Ah, the primordial terror of the theme to Jaws. That low sound of the monstrous heartbeat quickening, joining with strings and woodwinds and horns like the sound of alarm over the whole thing, and giving way to Williams' fanfare of adventure for Roy Scheider.
As a kid, this was among the first songs I knew that wasn't a nursery rhyme, disco hit or the Star Wars Theme, or Queen (I don't know why, but we had some Queen in the house). It was also the one you could plunk out on the family's upright if you messed around long enough to find the right combo of keys.
Yeah, this is the one you can find people shouting at each other about - "did Williams steal from Dvorak?" - and I don't doubt there's influence there. You can do worse than to borrow concepts from a famed composer, and it seems disingenuous to suggest someone with Williams' background wasn't familiar with Dvorak and it's all a coincidence. But, they are two different pieces in the same way everything out of Nashville for the past two decades has been essentially the same three songs, but nobody seems to mind much.*
Anyway, it's maybe the first Williams score that I'm aware of that became cultural shorthand around the planet, that you can still hum in a swimming pool to produce an unwarranted sense of danger.
*seriously - how can you even listen to New Country? Bleh. I am judging you, Country Music fans.