‘Indiana Jones, John Williams and the Art of Music You Can Barely Hear’ (NY Times Interactive Article)

“In many ways, Mr. Williams’s musical progress through the five Indiana Jones films has been a quest to find ever more innovative techniques for writing memorable music that will barely be heard. In 1997 the film critic Gene Shalit asked Mr. Williams, “How do you write music for rolling boulders?” and he offered a playful one-word answer: “Hard!” Scoring action set pieces — the chases, escapes and fights — is extraordinarily difficult in a compositional sense. In the rolling-boulder scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the music must be loud, aggressive and immediate in order to cut through the din. Mr. Williams accomplished this by inviting the trumpet section of the London Symphony Orchestra to in its most piercing register. This is a famously tricky section of the score to perform: Just as Indiana barely makes it out alive from that cave, the orchestra’s astonishing brass players sound as if one more measure would have done them in, too.”

“How to Write Music for Rolling Boulders”, by Frank Lehman
(Link provided by the author)