Simanaitis Says

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MOVIE MUSIC PART 2

THIS CONTINUES yesterday’s discussion of music for the big screen. Here in Part 2, a Brooklyn guy and several others earn applause for their music—and Oscars as well.

A Guy from Brooklyn Composes for All America. Aaron Copland, 1900–1990, was also successful with film scores. His music for The Heiress, 1948, received an Oscar. Other Copland-scored films include Of Mice and Men, 1939; Our Town, 1940; North Star, 1943; The Red Pony, 1948; and Something Wild, 1961.

The Heiress, 1949. Music by Aaron Copland.

Copland has appeared here at SimanaitisSays several times. In fact, I shared a personal note recounting how his music competed admirably with that of the Kirk Douglas spaghetti-Greek Ulysses.

Ear Candy. Not all film scores are remembered as great music. For example, ear candy ruled in many adventure flicks, including Ulysses. Often, historical pastiches, spaghetti westerns, and spy flicks were typically filled with glamorous people and scenery, minimal plot, and dubbed English for their mixed-language cast.

As noted yesterday here, musicologist Nick Slonimsky proved a real/ear candy test: Can the music stand alone without its visual link?

Popular Spins. Henry Mancini, 1924–1994, composed scads of film scores; Wikipedia lists 99 of them! Several are memorable because of their themes: The Pink Panther, all six of the series. Others had a hit song: “Moon River” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, 1961; “Days of Wine and Roses” in the 1962 movie of the same name; and “Two for the Road,” in that 1967 movie.

The Pink Panther, 1969. Music by Henry Mancini.

Bond, James Bond. Speaking of themes, I cite the opening gun-barrel sequence in just about every James Bond movie. Brit singer/composer Monty Norman, London-born 1928, is credited with writing the music for this iconic opening.

James Bond opening sequence. Music by Monty Norman.

Just as there have been a variety of actors portraying Bond, several composers did their 007 thing: Wikipedia lists nine contributing to the original Eon Productions.

John Barry, 1933–2011, was 007’s most prolific film music composer. According to Wikipedia, “After the success of Dr. No, [1962] Barry was hired to compose and perform eleven of the next fourteen James Bond films.” Barry was a six-time Oscar winner for, among other films, Born Free, 1966; Out of Africa, 1985; and Dances with Wolves, 1990.

Another 007 composer was Marvin Hamlisch, 1944–2012, filling in for Barry who was unavailable for The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977. Hamlisch is one of only 15 “EGOT” (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony) winners. Among his three Oscars was his score/adaptation for The Sting, 1973.

Better Than the Early Days. Nick Slonimsky noted that, in the early days of sound movies, “Because most movie directors who appeared in the list of credits as composers of musical scores could not read music, they usually engaged a musical amanuensis; their own part in such ‘composition’ consisted of whistling snatches of tunes or beating the desired rhythm.”

Movie music has come a long way since then. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2019

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