J: “Jaws” and Beyond – the Genius of John Williams

Jaws.jpg

It’s perhaps the most recognized musical theme in the world. Every child who has ever pretended to be a shark in the swimming pool has heard it, and even those who haven’t have played it on the piano. John Williams, the composer who gave us the memorable film scores to cinematic treasures such as Indiana Jones, Star Wars, and Home Alone, hit upon a stroke of true genius when he created the unforgettable theme for the movie Jaws in 1975.

And he only needed two notes.

When Williams first played the musical theme, which repeatedly alternates between F and F#, for film director Steven Speilberg, the director laughed and assumed it was a joke. But the film composer was quite serious, arguing that the repetitive theme as “grinding away at you, just as a shark would do, instinctual, relentless, unstoppable.”

The critics must have agreed with him, because the film score for Jaws won John Williams an Academy Award and ranked the sixth greatest score by the American Film Institute.

What Williams understood was that when it comes to creating something entirely new that no one has ever seen or heard before – well – there’s no such thing. As Ecclesiastes 1:9 states, “there is nothing new under the sun.” God, the Original Artist, is the only One who has ever created something new out of nothing, and is so when He spoke the world into existence (Genesis 1). Since that time, artists have been in the business of rearranging… we take the colors, tools, and elements that God has already given us and present them in different packaging.

As an artist or a writer, this can actually be quite a relief! Instead of beating yourself up for not being able to think of something “completely fresh and new,” just recognize that this is impossible. Instead, look for ways to take something old and dress it up in a fresh new way. Williams took two simple notes and delivered a theme that has sent chills running down the spines of generations of listeners.

What sort of creative rearrangement will you offer the world?

Theme Song from Jaws – John Williams, 1975

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The Classics.jpg

This post was submitted as part of the A to Z Challenge, where participants agree to write an article that corresponds to each letter of the alphabet, posting every day of the month of April (except Sundays).

Here on The Artistic Christian,  my theme for the month is The Classics.  Each day I’ll examine a book, film, or work of art that has become a beloved classic and discuss what has made it such a success, and what eternal themes it contains that Christian artists can use as modern illustrations.

For daily reflections from my personal travels around the world, check out my companion blog, A Shepherd’s Reflections, where my theme for April is Reflections From Around the World.

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10 thoughts on “J: “Jaws” and Beyond – the Genius of John Williams

  1. The “Jaws” music stays with you long after the movie fades. It’s amazing the power of a “simple” theme. You’re so right about the beauty of human creativity – “rearranging …what God has already given us”! Praise God He’s given us such a wondrous creation to work with!

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  2. I remember playing this and Star Wars in band. It was so much fun to learn and play because for us the movies were still pretty new. When my mother complains that there is nothing new out there (music, movies, books, etc.) I always tell her she’s right. Some things were done hundreds or even thousands of years ago – maybe even millions of years ago and what we have now is a copy of what was done and most of it not even good.

    Liked by 1 person

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