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Film and TV music back then

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by Larry F, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Like a lot of us, I grew up inundated with the sounds of orchestral instruments playing in a sometimes highly dissonant style, often without key centers, triadic harmony, and conventional scales (major and minor). This music, to me, is highly reminiscent of German Expressionist composers of the 1910s - 1940s. The music is often in the form of an ensemble with winds, sometimes brass, and strings. But the strings are not necessarily of the same number as one would hear in an orchestra. Maybe more like 4-8 strings. Also, percussion instruments were totally pervasive.

    I haven't studied much of this, but my feeling is that the film composers that were in their 30s-40s had studied composition with excellent teachers and composers. I am watching Time Limit, a 1957 film about American servicemen who had been POWs in North Korea. The composer was Fred Steiner, who wrote for a lot of TV, such as Hogan's Heros, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Star Trek, etc.

    I'm thinking about how much of that German Expressionist-like style has been absorbed by people who grew up on those shows. Take a listen to these, especially the background music, not the title music. This is some pretty sophisticated and harmonically adventurous stuff.

    I remember reading a little about film music and how the entire game changed after The Graduate, with music in the form of songs by Simon and Garfunkle.

    I have a couple of former students who work in the business. It seems to me that the biggest factor in getting their careers going was getting a degree in film composition from USC. Through their network of friends and former classmates, my students started off by programming synths, operating Pro Tools, and working as assistants to more well-known composers. Drawing a blank, here. James Horner was one.

    Fezz's dad was a well-known composer in the 1960s, in whose music you can really hear the craftsmanship involved in writing for orchestral instruments in a way that ensured the best possible sight-reading and balance in the studio.

    Of course, there is now a lot of sampling, loops, etc. that composers in their 20s-30s are adept at. The biggest cliche, or meme, is the ubiquitous long, soft, low sound, ominously preparing us for bad things to happen.
     
  2. Gautfrid

    Gautfrid Banned

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    Thank Schoenberg and his 12 tone.

    Although many film soundtracks 'back then' seemed to rely on jazz scores played by musicians who knew nothing of jazz
     
  3. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    When I think of influential "golden age" film music composers, I think of Erich Korngold. What about him, Larry?
     
  4. studio

    studio Poster Extraordinaire

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    I hear it Larry!

    Music from Batman TV series in the 60's.

    Enter The Dragon has some of that also.
    Lalo Schifrin did Enter the Dragon yes?
     
  5. hekawi

    hekawi Poster Extraordinaire

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  6. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Oh, yeah, Korngold and Max Steiner really got the ball rolling. Most of the composers that I know like to write for smallish ensembles of 4-12 players. While these don't produce big, lush sounds, they are great for layering and juxtaposing mood. While Bernard Hermann, Jerry Goldsmith, and others continued the orchestral, big sound styles, for me, it is the TV guys with smaller budgets and probably little time to work that really spoke to me as a kid. The music evoked a noirish world that really creeped me out, and really challenged me to figure out why that music sounded so different than other things I was hearing at the time. I think there are more than a few composers of that era and style that will soon see their stature and artistry grow in reputation. These guys wrote some really strange stuff. For example, the Perry Mason theme. What a sick, twisted, booze for breakfast, fedora world this conjured up. Every time I heard it, I would always freeze and just focus on what strange music it was.
     
  7. simonsp

    simonsp Friend of Leo's

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    The film music score seems to have reached a low in recent years. Bombastic Wagnarian scores are commonplace and the adventurousness and wit of the '60's and '70's have been replaced by by the musical equivalent of a lobotomy.

    There are exceptions but the mainstream Hollywood feature is a taste and wit free zone as far as music composition is concerned.

    Wouldn't it be great to bring back the visual purity of storytelling of the silent movies, accompanied by a score performed live by interested musicians. It is still done occasionally but I see an opportunity for a cinema movement where live musical accompaniment is the norm. Just imagine - "Man, you should'a been there for the Sunday matinee, the band nailed the love scene, just nailed it!"
     
  8. Big tuna

    Big tuna Tele-Holic

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    those old Clint Eastwood westerns had some cool music. All his films have good music jazz is really his thing.
     
  9. Fendereedo

    Fendereedo Poster Extraordinaire

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    Batman every time! Apparently the series is getting a complete series release on DVD this year - woohoo!!!
     
  10. AndyLowry

    AndyLowry Friend of Leo's

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    Schifrin's "Mission: Impossible" theme was pretty nice at the time. Larry, I agree on the Mason theme-- it's really dark, yet it swings. That reminds me-- I always wanted to learn that. Time to get started.
     
  11. AndyLowry

    AndyLowry Friend of Leo's

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    While tracking down a Perry Mason recording, I stumbled onto this. Royal Philharmonic! Very tasty rubato.

     
  12. thunderbyrd

    thunderbyrd Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    i can't speak of this subject with any knowledge of the theory and harmony at work in the music, but it has been on my mind that it's a shame that so much music used in tv and film is so little thought of. at work, i frequently go to u-tube and turn on "4 hours of the best of bach" or brahms or debussy or whoever. i don't claim at all to really "know" these people's music or what might be going on in it - but it sounds good.

    but i don't understand why that music is so revered and the composers that work for tv etc are not considered geniuses on that level.

    a theme song that caught my ear recently is the music for the old '70's show Kolchak the Night Stalker. if you've never noticed it, check it out, it's about 30 seconds of sheer genius. it moves from a pleasant, sunny theme straight into a menacing, heavy-metal cello riff and ends with a big stabbing violin chord. and it all fits together so darn good.

    far as i'm concerned, whoever composed that was a musical genius of the highest magnitude.
     
  13. craigster59

    craigster59 Tele-Meister

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    Ennio Morricone. He's coming to the Nokia in LA in March. Would love to go see him.
     
  14. simonsp

    simonsp Friend of Leo's

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    Sergio Leone undoubtedly found a soul mate in Ennio Morricone. This is one of my favorites. Mouth organ never sounded so cool.
     
  15. Justinvs

    Justinvs Poster Extraordinaire

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    Did Fred Steiner work on Gunsmoke, too? I always loved his work on Star Trek. Did he score the episode Amok Time?
     
  16. Flipped Mustang

    Flipped Mustang Tele-Holic

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    Ron Grainer was another great composer of TV and Movie scores. He had me at "The Doctor Who theme", but I love the music from "The Omega Man".


    And he also did the title music for "The Prisoner".
     
  17. CrisHendrix

    CrisHendrix Tele-Afflicted

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    That Schifrin soundtrack to Enter the Dragon is one of my all time favorites. Nods to jazz funk, Asian instruments, lounge, etc.. heavily sampled in hip hop.

    http://www.SunbeltRyders.com
     
  18. CrisHendrix

    CrisHendrix Tele-Afflicted

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    I had also noticed that Kolchak theme on netflix. I
    looked it up and the composer had supposedly claimed to have written that in just minutes before the session started. Great stuff

    http://www.SunbeltRyders.com
     
  19. Gautfrid

    Gautfrid Banned

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    I'd never registered that before, but now you mention it...

    Most, if not all, of the Kolchak shows are on You Tube BTW :cool:
     
  20. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    In academia, film music is of growing interest. Not always with musicians, but cultural studies, film (duh), English, and others.

    Music history is such a gas to get involved with. It is an incredibly rich field. Now, on the down side, musicians don't always get wrapped up in film music for a variety of reasons. The most common complaint, if that is even the word, is that Euro-based art music (don't gag at the terminology; it is what it is) focuses so much on form. Many composers sometimes plot out the form of a piece before writing a single note. In film music, the composer's conception of form has to fit with the needs of the film. One example that has always stuck with me, was Butch Cassady and the Sundance Kid. The film's composer was Burt Bacharach, who I have infinite admiration and respect for. Raindrops Keep Falling on MY Head was played in a lovely scene where Newman rides a bike and plays around with Katherine Ross. MEMO to the controllers of the universe: you dropped the ball with her. She was amazing. Anyway, the film sort of transforms into a long, long chase scene. Newman would see them in the distance, and say, "who are these guys?" The long chase scene had no music, which some writers on film music thought was a brilliant move.
     
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