Music Appreciation - Theme from Jaws by John Williams

This music is from the terrifying film Jaws. It is about a giant and ferocious shark. Each time the shark attacks its victims, low notes are heard which is enough to send shivers down our spines. This is because the composer has chosen the sound qualities cleverly.

Silence also contributes to the frightening mood in this piece. The silences or rests build tension and makes one expect a disaster to happen. This music is sounds organized with silence.

When listening to this piece, you can hear the lurking presence of the shark suggested by two low short “growly” notes of different pitch followed by silence.

The mood is uneasy and threatening which grows in tension as more and more notes are added. After the last silence, the two notes are played repeatedly one after the other which raises the tension as the shark gets closer and closer.

You know the worst has happened when we hear the loud, sharp and biting sound of the tuba. The music builds up dramatically to create the feeling of sudden panic. The volume increases, the pitch rises;, the timbre becomes brighter and more and more instruments are added.

Soon after the short notes change to sustained low notes over a very high melody. The brass notes add to the dramatic mood and one can feel the emotional distress of the victim.

The short, repeated notes return but with the woodwinds playing the melody. The music builds up again for another attack. This is followed by a tuba melody and eventually the volume fades away as the shark swims away.

(Click on the title to hear the music. Page will re-direct to YouTube).

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