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Info: Star Wars - Live Scores at The New York Philharmonic


Hey all,

As you guys probably know, this past month, Star Wars, ESB, ROTJ, and TFA were screened with a live performance of John Williams’ scores by the New York Philharmonic at David Geffen Hall, under composer/conductor David Newman. I was fortunate enough to attend Star Wars and ESB and make crude recordings of both with RecForge II on my phone. Unfortunately I didn’t plan any of this out, or I would have tried to smuggle in at least my Tascam recorder, or at least have the presence of mind to change my usual recording settings either time (so we’re limited to a mono, 16-bit/44.1kHz PCM recording, which for Star Wars especially is pretty hot since I forgot to take levels). I was also sitting all the way in the back (last row of Third Tier) for Star Wars, and almost all the way (middle of Second Tier) for Empire, so it probably isn’t ideal acoustically. Still, IMHO, they are very listenable as is, warts and all.

Some thoughts:
Newman was obviously limited by the fact that he had to keep the score in sync to the films but did nonetheless get to play with tempo, dynamics, and instrumentation a bit. When the score as heard in the film differed from that on the released OSTs, he always chose the film version of the orchestration (though that probably also differs a bit from the final film cut). The roughness of ESB overall is a testament to how much that film must have changed after having been scored, and the utter freaking jarring obnoxiousness of the 2011 additions (particularly in ESB) were only accentuated by the orchestra’s presence. Star Wars sounded a lot more complete and coherent, even with the digressions introduced around Mos Eisley. (Speaking of - Fiery Figrin Da’an and his Modal Nodes were not represented by the NYPhil, in case anyone was ondering.)
Nonetheless it was a pretty wild experience both times (esp ESB, which was on my birthday) and I wish I could have attended ROTJ and TFA as well. One thing I didn’t anticipate - probably because this was the first time I’ve seen either Star Wars or ESB in theaters - for example, was that er, this is a screening of Star Wars in a very large public space in a very large city, so most of the attendees, while obviously John Williams fans, were uh also very much Star Wars fans first - the 501st were out in force, there were a few cosplayers in the crowd, etc. Thus this wasn’t exactly a stuffy performance where you’d be liable to get shushed - which while better from a perspective of getting a definitive recording of Newman’s version, or ya know, for just hearing everything, also makes for a pretty engaging experience of its own. So while I was pretty annoyed at first, especially at some of the kids (they were eventually brought in line, lolz), eventually I embraced it (though I generally did not react with them, and good for that eh): jokes that I thought were banal or dumb or gah-it-was-cool-a-thousand-watches-ago-but-definitely-not-anymore came right back to life. Sometimes the cheers were for the characters, sometimes for the music, and sometimes both. All in all, pretty amazing.

Anyway, I don’t really have audio editing chops beyond doing simple cuts and amplifies in Audacity. No Izotope, Audition, etc. So initially I was just going to try to cut these up into something approximating e.g. ABC’s IAE V2 (organized by cue) and see what I can do with this crude thing, make it a learning experience etc. But I was hunting through the spleen recently and it looks like someone, after all these years, finally took the time to sync Scofield (hurray!) as well a hitherto unknown recording of ESB on opening night, so I thought there might be some interest in trying to sync this, warts and all, even just to the 2011 BDs. I’d love to say that I’d make the time to do that myself but any kind of sync nonsense drives me insane/strikes ph34r into my heart. Plus, there were intermissions both time, with some repetition of the last cue before intermission at the start of the second half of Star Wars, and a cut-down concert-suite rendition of the Imperial March at the start of the second half of Empire &c. So, as a practical matter, unless some of the older hands here talk me into it, I’m probably not going to take the time to attempt this. But I bet one of you fine people would like to, or at least have advice. Please chime in below! Let’s make this happen!

So natch I didn’t search the forums first or I would have found that indeed there was already a thread on this and that DFNYC attended all four screenings and made a presumably much much recording. It looks like we definitely attended different screenings for Star Wars, may have attended different screenings for ESB.
In any case, alexp120 and I are officially in business. Watch this space…

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”


I would love to take a crack at it. Read the PM when you have a moment.