It’s a funny thing that when one thinks of Ennio Morricone it is his western scores that come to mind instantly, which is a little worrying as his western soundtracks made up a very small percentage of his musical output, yes they were brilliant and innovative, inventive and have endured over the decades. There are a few however that still seem to escape the spotlight that so many put on the Maestro’s scores for movies such as THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and THE BIG GUNDOWN to name but three. GUNS FOR SAN SEBASTIAN was released in 1968, and although is nearly always classed as a Morricone western score and film it was more adventure or even a historical period piece set in Mexico during the mid-sixteenth century. Based upon the novel A WALL FOR SAN SEBASTEIN by William Barby Farherty, the movie was considered by many film makers including British born Ken Annakin with French actor Alain Delon rumoured as the lead before Henri Verneuil finally took the directorial helm. The cast was an impressive one which included Anthony Quinn, Charles Bronson, Anjanette Comer, Sam Jaffe and Jaime Fernandez.
The musical score is in my opinion one of Morricones most accomplished and romantic sounding from this period of his career, and dare I say it, was amore developed and inspired work than his early efforts as in A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS and FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE. The exquisite LOVE THEMEfrom the movie is the foundation of Morricones soundtrack, a central thematic piece that the composer builds the remainder of his score upon.
The eloquent and gloriously melodic theme becoming a soaring and unique listening experience, with the distinct vocals of Edda Dell Orso making a powerful but at the same time emotional impact. Morricone’s score for GUNS FOR SAN SEBASTIAN in my humble opinion rivals his most famous work for THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, it has the rawness and the savagery of the Spaghetti western sound but also has to it a poignancy and heartfelt persona that oozes an emotive and affecting quality which at first stuns and then eventually mesmerizes. The action cues from the score are more akin to the composers sound and style on the Sergio Corbucci western NAVAJO JOE with dark and dramatic piano forming the foundation of these cues on which the composer constructs a jagged and commanding composition that is a collaboration of brass and strings, with urgent woodwinds adding much to the atmosphere. There are also similarities to the NAVAJO JOE score, in the tracks that underscore the YAQUIS in the movie.
The soundtrack was released on an MGM records Lp SE-4565 ST back in 1968, and then re-issued by MCA records for vinyl release in 1986, this edition however had inferior sound quality and it was not until 2000 that the score would appear on compact disc, firstly as a thirteen track representation of the soundtrack that was paired with THE DARK OF THE SUN by Jaques Loussier and issued on the Chapter lll label CHA 0134. Again, the sound quality on GUNS FOR SAN SEBASTIAN failed to impress as it did on an MGM compact disc when the score was paired with Dominic Frontiere’s HANG EM HIGH.
We had to wait another six years for a definitive edition of te score with excellent sound quality to be released, this expanded twenty four track release was on the Film Score Monthly label, and was the labels 142nd release. Attractively packaged with wonderful artwork both on the cover and inside the booklet which contained informative notes by label owner Lukas Kendall, who also provided a track by track analysis. The score also included a number of vocal performances by Gianna Spagnola who’s gritty and earthy voice provided Morricone with a frenzied and harsh sound that, her gravely but at the same time attractive performances added much to the was particularly effective in some of the action cues. Spagnola had also made major contributions to the NAVAJO JOE score.
Her gravely sounding performances being ferocious and at times terrifying and the opposite to the vocals of Edda which are soaring and majestic. This is a score to cherish, one to savour and also one to hold dear and appreciate. A gem from the Maestro’s illustrious career that at times I feel is somewhat overlooked. The composer creating a gloriously thematic work, in which both symphonic and choral combine to bring to fruition one of those very moments in film that I would call perfection.
THE WHITE STALLION is a prime example of such writing, with choir (IL CANTORI MODERNI) and Solo Female voice working together underlined via brass percussion and strings. If there is a chance that you may not have heard this score or seen the movie, then you should rectify this NOW.
Il Maestro Ennio Morricone has played such a profound part in nearly every one’s life. His music for the cinema is iconic and haunting, from the savagery and the raw energy of his scores for the Italian made western to the romantic and emotive strains of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, THE MISSION and the simple but affecting themes from CINEMA PARADISO. This composer deserves the title THE GENIUS as it is plain and simple that he certainly is.
I began listening to Ennio Morricone back in the mid-1960s I think I was around 11 years of age when I first discovered his music, and ever since have not tired of hearing it in the form of new compositions and of course the classics such as THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, LOVE CIRCLE, COME MADDELENA, LA CALIFFA, IF THERE WAS WORK WHAT WOULD I DO?, DESERT OF THE TARTARS, WHEN WOMEN HAD TAILS etc.
But it was the 1960’s that were the most fruitful and also the most engaging, with so many themes and scores making an appearance it was like it was something new had been written every day. INCONTRO, LA COSSA BUFFA, DEVIL IN THE BRAIN and so many more, filled to overflowing with a rich and vibrant sound that was inventive and innovative. As a composer he introduced many to the sound of the cinema and also inspired a whole new generation of film music collectors, composers and performers. Morricone’ distinct style at times I suppose verged upon the experimental and also the avant garde, writing as many atonal and dramatic pieces as he did melodic and thematic interludes. It was most certainly the music for the Italian western that brought him to the attention of cinema audiences, and also it was this genre and its music that many still remember him for, although the composer himself would probably disagree with peoples opinion as in recent years he has dismissed this part of his career apart from the Leone examples. When Morricone began to his cut their proverbial musical teeth as it were, there were so many other wonderfully original composers emerging onto the film music scene, and it was in the Silver age of the film score that the likes of Legrand, Lai, Barry, Williams and Goldsmith began to attract the attention of cinema audiences, critics and film music collectors alike. So, it is a testament to Morricone that his music stood out on occasion above the compositions of these his extraordinarily gifted peers. I was looking through my collection of Morricone, and I think the score that attracted me mostly then as it still does now was and is THE SICILIAN CLAN.
It’s a score that I had on LP on Stateside records in the UK in 1970, (SSL 10307) and as soon as it was made available on compact disc by CAM in Italy I purchased it. Its also a score that has never been released as an expanded or definitive edition, probably because there was no more music available, it’s a short work, but one that makes an impact both on and off screen, its one of those scores that you can listen to and appreciate just as much, in fact if not more as stand alone music.
There have been a number of Compact Disc releases of the soundtrack, and some have improved marginally on the sound quality, not that it was inferior in any way, The central theme is an attractive and haunting one, the composer repeating a simple 4 note motif over and over, and adding to this strings that build into the beautiful ITALIAN THEME. The score is made up of themes for the central characters, each and everyone of them being vibrant and having to it a zestful and energetic musical persona. TEMA PER LE GOFF and TEMA PER NAZZARI E DELONetc, the composer was in my opinion at the height of his musical prowess during the mid to late sixties and into the 1970’s. Audiences had loved his western scores and were now beginning to appreciate that Morricone was not a composer that could be easily typecast, the Maestro creating soundtracks that would become classic and iconic examples of film music.
METTI UNA SERA A CENA is another such example of Morricone at his most prolific, again a score filled to overflowing with rich and affecting thematic material. It’s a weird thing that when one listens to soundtracks by Morricone from this period, we hear so many themes within one example, METTI UNA SERA A CENA is a prime example of this, there must be at least nine principal themes. Which would be hard to even contemplate nowadays, as we all are aware that contemporary film music rarely contains a theme does it. The soundtrack was issued by CINEVOX on LP in 1969 and then later the soundtrack got a UK release on CBS in 1970 with the title being changed to LOVE CIRCLE. For this recording the tracks were slightly different and lyrics were added by Jack Fishman, whether Morricone was aware of this I do not know, but for these tracks the vocals were performed by THE MIKE SAMMES SINGERS, who at the time were associated more with the world of easy listening, I think the idea was that the songs HURRY TO ME which was a vocal of the central theme from the movie and FOOTSTEPS a vocal version of the cue UNO CHE GRIDA AMORE were both released on a single 45rpm would be big hits in the charts of the mid-sixties. The single was released on CBS as a promo for radio stations, on a white label with an orange A on it. HURRY TO ME being the A side, with FOOTSTEPS on the flip, the artist credited on the single was not Morricone nor was it Mike Samme but the name of BRUNO NICOLAI was used, of course Nicolai conducted the original score in Italy. The songs were credited to Jack Fishman and E Morricone, which was typical of Fishman as Roy Budd found out to his cost. I cannot be sure if this was ever commercially available as I only had the promo. In later years CINEVOX re-released the soundtrack onto CD with a version of HURRY TO ME performed by THE SANDPIPERS. The expanded version on CINEVOX is certainly the best release of the score, containing nineteen cues, and today remains one of Morricone’s most loved scores.
L’ASSOLUTO NATURALE is another wonderful example of the work of morricone from the sixties, again released in 1969 on the CINEVOX label, it is another theme laden work, that is literally crammed with sensual, sublime and tantalising music, with each cue being of a quality that they could each easily be a central theme for a movie in their own right. Morricones easy going yet highly absorbing and effectual opening theme sets the scene perfectly for what follows, again it is an entertaining and classic work that became one of the key works of the Maestro in which he combines a rich and melodic air with slightly atonal pieces, the opening theme or at least elements of it running throughout the work acting like a glue binding the remainder of the soundtrack together.
Another such score from the same year by Morricone was LA MOGLIE PIU BELLA or THE NICEST WIFE now correct me if I am mistaken, but I had this just as a single, with the main title on the A side and TEMA DI FRANCESCA on the B side, there was as far as I know not an LP of the soundtrack, but a compact disc was issued in the 1990’s on Cinevox which included fourteen cues from the score, although the movie was a violent one and the majority of Morricones score was action led and at times quite unlistenable away from the film, there were also some striking Morricone moments of melody present.
THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE for me is yet another masterful score from Morricone, its childlike yet icy and disturbing musical aura purveys a sense of dread and confusion at times, the lilting melodies and serene sounding female vocal being comforting and safe, but all the time disguising the fact that there is violence and evil present. Released in 1970, this Italian Giallo directed by Dario Argento is a highly regarded piece of cinema, the soundtrack was issued on Capitol records in the U.S.A. and also on CINEVOX in Italy both albums containing eleven cues. Later editions of the soundtrack also released on vinyl contained the same cues with a few only having nine cues. This was Morricone at his atmospheric best, utilising eerie sounds and tortured and sensual female voice to create an atmosphere that was thick with menace.
A score that in my opinion is always overlooked is DEATH OF AN IMPORTANT STUDENT, released in 1972, IMPUTZIONE DI OMICIDIO PER UN STUDENTE to give it its original Italian style, is a fest of Morricone magic, an upbeat and strong opening theme performed by Massimo Ranieri and a collection of great themes that make up an entertaining work, the original LP record which I still have was released on the CGD label in Italy, the soundtrack was not re-released until 1998 0n the Screen Trax label containing the same tracks as the original album, then in 2013 GDM also reissued the score. It’s a soundtrack that I have to say I do not listen to often enough, a gem from the 1970’s with some excellent choral work courtesy of IL CANTORI MODERNI and Alessandroni and I am of the opinion it is a key score within the Maestro’s extensive body of work.
The final soundtrack I wanted to highlight is from the 1972 movie INCONTRO, this is a very different sound to that of the previous title, although strong it is more romantic and also has to it a greater abundance of fragility and emotion. The film tells of an affair between a young man and a married woman, Morricone’s romantic and lilting score brought much to the production, the central theme being a blue print for many other works that the composer would pen in later years, CINEMA PARADISO being one of these. Again, filled with a vibrant and overwhelming sense of emotion the music fills the movie and the composer paints us a picture of love Italian style. This is also another short score from the composer, its simple but affecting themes oozing quality rather than quantity. This is a must have soundtrack, but one that again can be overlooked.
As a film music collector, I am aware that this underatted and often neglected art form comes in all shapes, sizes and consists of numerous sounds. We have the symphonic styles as employed by composers such as John Williams and his illustrious predecessors such as Korngold, Steiner, Newman etc, and many others both in the past and in recent years. But movie music has evolved and at times like every other medium has hit its low points and then climbed again to the heady heights of excellence. I think the low for me must have been at the end of the 1970’s and through to the mid-1990.s I say low point, well that’s not exactly true because also during this period we did get wonderful symphonic and lush sounding soundtracks, but it was during this period also that the song score began to take hold, and the age of the music supervisor also came into play. Why they call them music supervisors is beyond me, because most of them cannot read a note of music and to coin a phrase from a good friend THEY WOULD NOT KNOW A SEMI QUAVER FROM A CROTCHET LET ALONE A CHEESE QUAVER. So, a music supervisor (and we will use this title loosely) was basically someone who found songs and got the rights of the songs cleared so that the film company could use them on a soundtrack to a movie, thus cutting out the composer and also the original score. Many of the songs had very little connection with what was going on in the movie, in fact they were at times (well all the time) selected to create more revenue for the film studio, who invariably would release a soundtrack album filled with them, at times it was like, NOW this is what I call bleeding the fans of the film dry vol 1, etc. And these supervisors actually got paid to do this and got a credit on the big screen too. Many films included both original score and songs too, and even in very rare cases original songs as well. In the 1990’s a soundtrack would often be released as being the original soundtrack, and it did not contain one scrap of the films score, it was all songs that were , wait for either in the movie,,,, or,,, are you ready for this inspired by the movie? Then we got a token track at times from the score tacked onto the end of the album or CD, five mins if you were very lucky. But of course, there are also scores for films which are not symphonic and are not song scores. The electronic or synthesised score, was a way of the film company saving money, after all if they had one guy and a synth machine, that’s got to be cheaper than the LSO right? Well not according to award winning composer Maurice Jarre. Who produced some epic sounding soundtracks that were brimming with themes as in LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and DOCTOR ZHIVAGO etc. Jarre told me in an informal chat backstage at the Barbican that an electronic sore sometimes would cost more to produce than a fully symphonic work.
At the time I think he had just scored WITNESS, and when you think about it the amount of work that must go into creating an electronic score as in time etc must be high. When I think of a synthesised or electronic score, BLADE RUNNER by Vangelis comes to mind as does the composer/performers soundtracks to CHARIOTS OF FIRE and THE APOCALYPSE OF THE ANIMALS, then there are movies such as BEVERLY HILLS COP, and TOP GUN both of which were scored by Harold Faltermeyer, and lets not also forget that composers such as Jerry Goldsmith and Alan Silvestri went down the electronic route on a number of occasions. HOOSIERS, BASIC INSTINCT, GREMLINS and RUNAWAY for example by Goldsmith and DELTA FORCE by Silvestri were entirely synthesised scores.
Composers such as James Newton Howard and James Horner utilised the electronic path too, Horner’s WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK for example and Newton Howards RUSSKIES were completely synthesised. And there are the likes of Jay Chattaway, Brad Fiedel, Craig Safan and their like all of whom, experimented with synths and electronics to achieve some stunning results. Did this make the scores that these composers created any less enjoyable, not for me they didn’t.
Even Elmer Bernstein who is well known for creating iconic theme laden scores for the cinema turned to non-conventional means when it came to scoring GHOSTBUSTERS and BLACK CAULDRON in fact Bernstein in the latter part of his career employed the Ondes Martenot many times, but does it mean a score is any less thematic because of the way in which it is realised? In fact, the Ondes Martenot,s presence within a score or a section of a score is mesmerising and attractive. Also let’s not forget Miklos Rosza with his PARANOIA theme for SPELLBOUND, so electronics have been around for a little while and have made some stunning impacts within film soundtracks, and coming up to date, (well the 1970’s).
Giorgio Moroder, was active in the area of scoring movies, his first film work was MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, for which he won an Oscar. Moroder’s disco based synth lines pulsated and meandered around the movie, but they worked and they also enhanced and supported the storyline in the same way that a fully symphonic score would have done, in fact I think that an orchestral score for MIDNIGHT EXPRESS probably would not have been so effective, the composer/producer manged to employ electronic sounds but at the same time purveyed an emotive and dramatic aura throughout, electronic soundtrack can be cold and non-emotional, but Moroder fashioned an effective LOVE THEME for the movie, which although a little more up-tempo than one would expect, is still filled with a delicate and fragile sound the composer utilising keyboard, choral effects and percussion.
Moroder of course had been active on the 1970’s disco scene and had produced massive hits for the likes of Donna Summer (I FEEL LOVE, LOVE TO LOVE YOU BABY, BAD GIRLS, and the re-working of McARTHUR PARK etc) and there is little doubt because of his popularity at that time was seen by the producers of MIDNGHT EXPRESS as an already established artist that was not only capable of providing a score that would be serviceable for the film but also his name would generate sales of the soundtrack album, which it actually did. The soundtracks opening track CHASE become a floor filler in many clubs and discos even at the lengthy 9 min duration that it was, it is a track that is still played today and has been sampled by top Dj.s and music producers popping up here there and everywhere. The beat and the recurring 11 note motive creating a haunting and rhythmic musical persona on which Moroder built his hypnotic composition adding sounds and snippets of sub themes to it as it progressed and grew, the composer developing the theme and repeating it to make sure it became fixed in the memory of the watching audience or listeners and dancers in the clubs. Moroder also composed a secondary theme for the movie, which was a slower variation of his CHASE piece, but he added to this a more exotic sound which was perfect for setting the scene and accompanying the location in which the movie was set Turkey.
Combining simple musical lines with percussive elements and adding strings or synth strings to lift the entire passage.
This style of electronica or electronic music spawned many sound a-like tunes such as MAGIC FLY by Space, which is more or less the CHASE theme, with a few minor variations but more commercially viable for being played on the radio. I think it too heavily influenced bands such as TANGERINE DREAM, with Italian born Moroder himself picking up on the creativity of German band KRAFTWERK when he set out to establish his own style and musical identity and of course Jean Michel Jarre’s OXYGENE which was probably one of the most successful sythn inspired works from the early to mid-seventies, alongside TUBULAR BELLS by Mike Oldfield, which was mainly instrumental as in conventional but did contain some electronic support.. It is also worth mentioning that Moroder probably had a hand in influencing numerous other bands, DAFT PUNK for example, who are now active in the film scoring arena.
The sound that Moroder achieved for MIDNIGHT EXPRESS was at the time nothing out of the ordinary, but in later years many have come to not only respect the direction he went in but also revere the sound he managed to create as being something of a milestone in modern film scoring, a game-changer or an innovative and important change in direction and the beginning of what many call the hybrid score. I am surprised that Moroder did not compose more for movies and TV shows, but I was pleased to hear his score for THE QUEEN OF THE SOUTH last year, which evoked so many of the themes from MIDNIGHT EXPRESS for me personally. The composer also worked on movies such as THE NEVER ENDING STORY collaborating with singer Limahl on the opening song and composer Klaus Doldinger on the score; I have to admit I preferred Doldinger’s score as it contained more symphonic elements, but the electronic style of Moroder and the symphonic sound of Doldinger complimented each other well. Moroder also was involved on the soundtracks for FLASHDANCE and ELECTRIC DREAMS both of which attained a kind of cult status with songs from both movies entering the pop charts. And let’s not forget he was also composer or a contributor on AMERICAN GIGILO, SUPERMAN lll and SCARFACE and wrote a new score for METROPOLIS the silent classic.
The electronic score existed many years before Moroder, Faltermeyer, Vangelis and their like. Cast your mind back to THE FORBIDDEN PLANET a futuristic MGM movie, that starred Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and a youthful looking Leslie Nielsen, the music or at least the musical or electronic tonalities and sounds heard on the soundtrack were the work of Bebe and Louis Barron, the score was more of a soundscape when you think about it, as there were few thematic properties present. I remember having the MGM 78 rpm record, which I am sure still resides in my house loft, it contained two tracks from the soundtrack, which I have to say were somewhat difficult to listen to but worked so well in the movie. The strange sounds on the soundtrack were almost continuous, and not only under-scored the storyline but became the sounds of the planet and its inhabitants both human and alien.
THE FORBIDDEN PLANET is credited as being the first fully electronic score. The composers responsible created a sound and also a style that was to influence many other artists which was not restricted to just film composers. Its sound and its presence perfectly enhanced the production, and its influences were also far reaching. It is probably true to say that without this score being conceived and created then other film scores such as those mentioned as in CHARIOTS OF FIRE and BLADE RUNNER might not have come into being.
But even before FORBIDDEN PLANET electronics were utilised within film scores, not as the sole instrumentation but often to create otherworldly sounds and atmospheres as in the 1951 move THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL which was scored by Bernard Herrmann. The eerie sounds as realised by Herrmann brought much to the production and were an important part of the movie as they created a sound and a persona that was associated with the visitors that came from outer space, Herrmann’s talent at adapting and creating sounds to suit movies was already apparent, but his use of electronic sounds that acted as support to symphonic compositions and vice versa was and still is mind blowingly unique.
This was a fusion of electronic sounds and symphonic music and a combination that worked wonderfully, and a combination that the composer returned to most notably in scores for films such as JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH Herrmann’s dark and powerful work containing growling and foreboding sounds that were intermingled with symphonic parts and an ominous organ performance to create fearful, daunting and uneasy atmospheres which were perfect for the movie and also added another dimension to the unchartered territories of the underworld these rich and unsettling atmospheres created the perfect otherworldly moods that the film required. MYSTERIOUS ISLAND is another great score by Herrmann and although I initially thought that the composer had utilised some form of electronic support I have since re-thought this and listened intently, to discover that this is symphonic, with instruments creating sounds that are jagged and harsh, maybe giving the impression that there are electronic aids included, so maybe in this case we have conventional instruments setting out to imitate electronics rather than the other way around? The combination style of symphonic and synthetic was also employed by composer Franz Waxman within his renowned and ground-breaking score for THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.
It is probably true to say that the majority of film music collectors would prefer it if electronics were not used within film soundtracks, but today the electronic hardware that is at hand to composers is so sophisticated at times it is difficult to decipher if it is electronic or symphonic and I for one have been fooled many times. Some argue that because of this that a number of scores sound similar to one another, maybe because the composers involved all use the same samples or sounds?
Certain composers do tend to place a drone sound over a sequence or scenes, which is basically a noise rather than actual music, a noise which to be honest has no melody or direction and is at times just a tone which does not alter or deviate at all. But nowadays and because of composers such as Hans Zimmer (sorry I know it’s that name again) this has become something of a regular occurrence within film and TV scores and at times it seems that the art of writing actual original music for film has departed the arena as it were. But, (yes it’s that But word again,) there have been times when you just know if a movie had been scored by any other medium of music or at least the music had been performed by symphonic means it would not have sounded right and certainly would not have worked as well in the context of the movie. BLADE RUNNER for example and also THE APOCALYPSE OF THE ANIMALS both by Vangelis had about them an originality and a creativeness that was rare with synthetic scores, the composer fashioning effective and affecting thematic properties that are innovative and iconic.
So, electronics have been around for longer than we probably realise and the assumption that it is a new component or for the film music composer is not correct. Composers such as Francis Lai, Ennio Morricone, Maurice Jarre etc are all associated with the silver age of film music, each have their own undeniable style and individual musical identity an identity that was the produced not by symphonic means alone, A MAN AND A WOMEN, WITNESS, ENEMY MINE, THE WORKING CLASS GO TO HEAVEN, are a handful of examples that we look upon as classic film music scores, but all have some elements that are electronically realised.
Sadly there is a down side to the use of electronics and samples within film scoring, and that is in this modern age it becomes quite easy for someone who is competent on a computer to come along and put together a score or a collection of themes or beats that can be expanded upon which might be suitable for a movie, I have always thought that the real talent of scoring a movie is when a composer sits and watches the film and whilst doing so is taking into account the timings the best place for any music to be placed to create maximum affect and also to support the action on screen, and I am also sure that whilst a real composer sits and watches a movie for the first time he or she is hearing the music they will create for it inside their head, which I am told happens every moment of the day for a composer.
The computer age has made it easier for one to hit a button, lay down a backing track and then add sounds and repeat these until something that resembles a theme eventually takes shape. But that is another story, synthetics, electronics, samples etc whatever you want to call them are here to stay and have become an everyday occurrence not just in film music but in all genres of music. Popular music too employs synthetics much more openly and widely, artists even having electronic aids to make them sound better when singing. So, are electronics a good thing a bad thing or maybe an ugly thing? Does it depend on the way in which they are used or in the way that a composer writes? That is the question. Listen to GETTYSBURG by Randy Edelman, it is a good score and contains some rousing and epic sounding themes, but is it symphonic, NO, not at all it is an example of electronics or synthetic sounds being formed into inspiring and imposing compositions, and because it is not symphonic is it a lesser work from this composer? Again, No not at all. Let’s, compare two random romantic movie themes, THE ANONYMOUS VENITIAN by Stelvio Cipriani now this is so lush and lavish filled with strings piano and woodwind that are brought together by percussion to create a lilting and haunting piece, orchestral through and through.
Now to BILITIS by Francis Lai, fully synthetic, but because it is, does it make this piece of elegant music any less effective or indeed affecting, do you see what I am saying? It still does the job it is destined to carry out, but returning to something I mentioned before in this article, if the theme from BILITIS was played by a one-hundred-piece orchestra with the accent on strings would it be as affecting? Probably not, and the same I suppose could be said if ANONYMOUS VENITIAN was performed at a synthesiser, would it sound right? Other composers I should mention that have utilised electronic sounds within their work for the cinema include, Francois De Roubaix, Michel Magne on various scores and Bob Crewe and Charles Fox on BARBARELLA, and that is as they say the tip of the iceberg and for the composers I have forgot to mention and I know there are many, I apologise.
Electronics and samples are not going anywhere, and the film composer as we now know him or her will utilise them as another tool in their musical armoury, and why not, if it works then use it, if it leads to a more creative and innovative film score, it can only be a good thing.
Born in Taranto, Puglia, Italy on January 7th 1922. Michele Lacerenza was to become one of the most important musicians to be connected with the Italian cinema and in- particular the Italian western. Like Alessandroni, s whistle and guitar playing, Franco De Gemini’s excellent harmonica performances and Edda Dell Orso’s unique aural vocalising, Lacarenza was to make his mark on the western genre and also other movie scores with his inspired and unblemished trumpet playing.
Lacerenza came from a family background that was musical; his Father Giacomo Lacerenza was a well known conductor. Lacerenza came to the forefront of Italian film music when he was asked by composer Ennio Morricone to perform trumpet on “A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS”. The films director Sergio Leone had originally insisted on having Italy’s most prominent trumpet player at that time Nini Rosso to perform on the soundtrack, but Morricone wanted to use Lacerenza because he remembered his flawless performances whilst they were at the music conservatory and has stated since that he wrote the piece with Lacerenza’s trumpet in mind.
After playing the films central theme for Leone the great film-maker was said to be reduced to tears because Lacerenza’s performance was so full of emotion. Morricone described him as “A sublime trumpet player” After the success of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, Lacerenza continued his collaboration with Morricone on scores such as A PISTOL FOR RINGO , FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Lacerenza became much in demand and began to perform on many other film soundtracks, it was also at this time that he had a hit record with a cover version of THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (La Casa Del Sole) a song that had been a worldwide hit for British rock band The Animals.
Lacerenza’s career went from strength to strength and as well as performing on film scores and collaborating with composers such as Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota and Armando Trovaioli he also began to compose music for the cinema and although his output may not have been immense it was certainly important and original. The Maestro also taught music at the Foggia conservatory of music and the Santa Cecilia Academy. He died in Rome on November 17th 1989.
Ennio Morricone is as we all know the world’s most prolific composers of music for film. The 1960, s and 1970, s were in many fans opinions the golden age for the composer, he worked on many motion pictures during those two decades and it seemed as if there were at least two soundtracks by Morricone released every week, westerns, dramas, comedies, romantic tales all benefited from the Maestro’s distinct musical style. One movie score of his from the 1970’s still remains a favourite of mine. INCONTRO 1971, contains one of his most haunting and romantic soundtracks and although it has been re-released recently there is sadly no more music available. The score has a running time of just over 30 minutes, but what it lacks in quantity it certainly makes up for in quality. This is a score that is brimming with delicate romantic themes that have about them a fragility and an alluring persona, that is both subtle and fully lush. Morricone combines both a vintage passionate sound with that of a more contemporary style, thus keeping the score fresh and appealing throughout. Piano is underlined by strings and also supported by heartrending solo violin performances, with trademark woodwind and harpsichord that are understated but essential in creating this poignant and emotive soundtrack. Originally released on a CAM records LP and then re issued as part of the CAM soundtrack encyclopaedia on compact disc.
The soundtrack more recently was re-issued on the Spanish label Quartet, who gave it a new look art work wise. INCONTRO is I suppose what is referred to as classic Morricone, and is in the same league as LOVE CIRCLE, LA CALIFFA, HE AND SHE and many others that have also earned the title of being classic Morricone. It’s a pity that no more music is available for release but with some things less is more if you get what I mean. Recommended.
FILM AND TELEVISION MUSIC FROM AROUND THE WORLD. WITH MOVIE REVIEWS AND NEWS FROM ALL OVER THE GLOBE.