Composing duo, Guido and Maurizio De Angelis, wrote numerous scores for various genres of movies that were produced in Italy and Europe during the 1970’s through to the 1980’s. Their distinct and innovative sound has graced many a western, comedy and thriller over the years, their score for THEY STILL CALL ME TRINITY is held in high esteem by many collectors and it was a joy to have the score finally released onto compact disc recently. I would like to thank both Guido and Maurizio for answering my many questions and also a special thank you to Michela who was so helpful in liaising between MMI and the composers.
I notice that according to certain listings on the internet that your first film score credit was in 1962, for VUELVE SAN VALENTIN, was this your first time scoring a movie, or what was your involvement on this movie?
That’s not correct, actually. In 1962 we were too young to take up the role of compositors. Our activity in that field started in 1971 with Per grazia ricevuta.
I think I am correct saying you began as performers and producers for RCA, how did you become involved with the scoring of films?
It’s true. We were members of the orchestra in RCA as session men, playing guitar [Maurizio] and flute [Guido]. At that time, RCA made our orchestra play in all the most successful albums they produced. After a long period, they gave us the opportunity to be not only performers, but also arrangers of their productions. The first proposal came from Vincenzo Micocci, one of the greatest music producers of that time. The album we were asked to work on was Tanto pe’ canta’, sung by Nino Manfredi, a famous Italian actor. This album had a huge success and Nino asked us if we’d like to write the music for his first film as director: Per grazia ricevuta. We said yes, obviously. That’s how our career as composers started. That’s also how our career took off, because that film and its soundtrack had a great success. Some of those songs were also used as opening themes in very popular radio shows such as Alto gradimento by Renzo Arbore and Gianni Boncompagni company.
THEY STILL CALL ME TRINITY, is considered as a landmark score for you, and one of my own personal favourites, how much time did you have to score the movie, and where was the music recorded?
About 3 months to do the entire work. The music was recorded at RCA, B studio.
You are well known for your originality where music is concerned and for your effective use of songs in movies, when you are working on a project do you begin with a vocal theme and build the score around this or maybe you begin with the instrumental themes and then work on the song?
At that time, the best course of action was to start from the main theme. In most cases, also at the request of the director, this was a vocal theme. The next step was to work on the instrumental versions of the main theme. The real score was composed at a later stage, once the film was edited, for optimization reasons.
KEOMA was a big score for you, the vocal performances are very unique, when you write a theme, or a song do you have a particular artist in mind when you are writing or before you begin work on it?
Not exactly and not always. Sometimes we realize we need a pop, rock or country performer, only if agreed with the director. Then we look for the right artist with the help of the record label that has interests in the score.
What is your opinion at the state of film music today, compared with film music from the 60’s 70’s and 80, s?
It’s a magic world where all expression possibilities can have a place. We need to find a way to strike a balance between the needs of the director, the producer and the record label. Up until recently, film music revolved around the idea of “main theme”: it was necessary to have a recognizable theme to identify and boost the plot of the movie. On the contrary, nowadays directors prefer “neutral” music, often based on sound design. The suggestive power of this music lies in sound and timbre, not in recognizable melodies. Music is effective and strengthens the feeling of each movie scene, but – without a real theme, a melody – can’t exist out of the scene, autonomously. I don’t know what the future holds, but new technologies will surely lead to new sounds and atmospheres. Even without a real theme, these can be very convincing; it depends on the kind of film and on the story, you want to tell.
DOGTANIAN was an animated series you worked on, how did you become involved on this?
The producer of that series, Claudio Biern of BRB Madrid, hired us.
You have worked on TV series as well as movies, is there in your opinion a great difference between scoring a feature film and scoring a series of many episodes for TV?
No, there’s no difference. Both for TV series and movies, music has to express common elements: passion, adventure, epic, suspense, intimacy, feelings, danger, action… Same ingredients, same proceedings.
What composers or artists would you say influenced or inspired you in the way you scored a film or wrote music?
What we admire the most in composers is compositional brilliance and orchestration technique. Among non-Italians, we can mention John Williams, Thomas Newman, Hans Zimmer, James Newton, Howard, James Horner… For Italy, Ennio Morricone and Nino Rota.
Many your soundtracks have been issued onto CD and recently scores such as THEY STILL CALL ME TRINITY, VALDEZ HORSE’S and AFYON OPPIO have been released, do you have any involvement in what music will be going onto any of the releases, and is there a score of yours that has not been released that you would like to see available on a recording?
No, we have no influence on the choices editors and producers made for these soundtracks. We composed music for different publishers and different record labels, and these subjects act however they like. Most of our soundtracks issued on LP, except for a few that were not long enough like, for example, L’allenatore nel Pallone. In some cases, the label released only the main theme of a soundtrack, on 45, but composers have no part in these choices.
When you scored THEY STILL CALL ME TRNITY were you given any specific instructions by the director as to what style of sound that he wanted?
The director wanted a vocal theme for the opening credits, so we figured a song with a country atmosphere. We were very happy we could use the acoustic style we liked so much.
Do you think it is important for a film or a TV series to have a catchy theme or song?
It depends on the director and/or the producer. Personally, we think that a recognizable theme, at least during the opening credits, should and could be in a film. It gives the series or the movie an identity that remains even outside the screening room. The tendency is now to reduce catchy themes, believing that they would distract the audience from what’s happening in the scene. But this debate has no simple conclusion: there will always be advocates of both views.
How many times did you normally have to see a movie before you began to get any fixed ideas about where music should be placed or what style of music was required?
Sometimes we need to see it several times. We have to understand the right mood we need to recreate in each situation. Then we have to watch it again with the director, to have his opinion on where to place the music. Obviously, at this point we can fairly say what we would do and convince the director that it would be better to place music in one scene rather than in another. We also discuss the style of the music for each single scene.
I know you are both accomplished performers, so did you perform a lot of the work yourselves on your film scores?
Yes. For instance [Maurizio’s speaking], I usually play guitar main parts myself. Along with the orchestra, or in separate tracks before adding the rest of the instruments.
Using the TV series SANDOKAN as an example, when working on a series for television, do you score episodes in the order that they will be aired, or do you score more than one episode at a time, and do you on a long running series re-use any themes from early episodes in later ones?
We generally work on one episode at a time. In some cases, in order to optimize, we reuse one or more tracks, edited accordingly.
What method do you use to work out your musical ideas, keyboard, guitar or piano?
It depends on the genre. For orchestral and symphonic scores, for example, the initial idea comes to light at the piano. For more country or pop styles, the guitar is a perfect starting point.
What would you define as the purpose of music in film?
It has to increase the feelings and the emotions the footing shows, to put flesh on their bones. Or add new feelings and emotions if, for some reasons, there’s too few.
You are doing a comeback tour, where will you be performing?
We made a concert in Budapest, recently, and it was a great success. In the wake of that event, we’ve been proposed to do other live shows. Now a production is planning a tour for 2018/2019 on which, of course, we will have our say. We’ll communicate news and dates shortly.
The lyrics to some of your songs were written by Susan Duncan, how did you begin your collaboration with her?
She was a staff member of the Foreign Office at RCA at the time of our first film scores. When we had the need, we asked her and her partner Cesare De Natale to write some lyrics for our songs as Oliver Onions. Since then, we worked together for a very long time.
Will we be hearing any new film scores from you soon?
Yes. Something’s up, but it is too soon to realize what style the director wants, if epic or minimalist. This makes a big difference in choosing the main theme and the score. We’ll see!