Assignment One – REVISED – Music in film and Contemporary classical
Music 1 ~ From the Present to the Past – Ms Suncica Lazic, Student ID: 516098
LISTENING TO MUSIC IN FILM
Assignment One- [Pt. I Proj.2] ~Exercise~ Listening to music in film
Ennio Morricone’s ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack’
Ennio Morricone’s original score/soundtrack for Sergio Leone’s film ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’ was released in 1966 and quickly achieved iconic status, becoming synonymous with Spaghetti Westerns. The reason for its enduring popularity and cult following lies in Morricone’s storytelling ability. The atmospheres and moods he created are often as crucial to the drama as the actual film footage.
Here is a brief outline of some of the methods he used to create this distinct style;
Morricone’s choice of the natural minor rather than melodic or harmonic minor is his trademark. Dispensing with the leading-note creates a mysterious tonal ambiguity. He uses the Dorian mode similarly, leaving out the 6th degree, thus creating uncertainty. (Leinberger, 2004:73)
The main theme/title music consists of short melodic phrases which also serve as a leitmotif. The protagonists share one melodic theme, but instrumentation varies. Clint Eastwood’s ’The Good’ motif is played on a Soprano Recorder. Eli Wallach’s ‘The Ugly’, an octave lower by ‘coyote’ sounding effected male vocals. Lee Van Cleef ’s ‘The Bad’, two octaves lower on a bass ocarina.
A tremolo string underscore denotes a high state of anxiety, and compositional devices like dissonance and chromaticism to express tension. In many cues you can hear Musique Concrete influences.
In ‘The Ecstasy of Gold’ scene a four note piano ostinato plays under a horn melody creating a frantic paranoid state. The pace of the ostinato so closely follows the film edits people erroneously presumed the scene was cut to the music. (Leinberger, 2004:101)
Gunshots, acoustic guitars, harmonicas, mariachi style trumpets and historically accurate bugle calls during Civil War battle scenes all give a sense of the Old West. These bugle calls, although not in shot, are perceived as diagetic. All these compositional techniques distil into the quintessential ‘Morricone sound’.
List of Illustrations
Figure 1. (n.d) Film poster [Poster] At: https://www.google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=The+Good,+the+Bad+and+the+Ugly (Accessed on 10 January 2017)
Figure 2. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (Theme) (1966) [Music Score excerpt] At: https://www.scoreexchange.com/scores/289686.html (Accessed on 10 January 2017) Italy: Alberto Grimaldi productions.
Figure 3. “The Ecstasy of Gold,” Four- Note Ostinato in A minor from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Ennio Morricone (1966) [Music Score excerpt] In: Leinberger, C. (2004) Ennio Morricone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Plate 5.17. United States of America: Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Figure 4. Commence Firing (n.d) [Music Score excerpt] In: Leinberger, C. (2004) Ennio Morricone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Plate 5.16. United States of America: Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Leinberger, C. (2004) Ennio Morricone’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. United States of America: Scarecrow Press, Inc.
Morricone, E. (1966) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. [MUSIC SCORE] U.S Miami FL: WARNER BROS PUBLICATIONS U.S INC.
Morricone, E. (2014) The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Soundtrack, Original recording remastered. [CD] New York: EMI Music Publishing Ltd.
Morricone, E. Micelli, S (2001) Composing for the Cinema The Theory and Praxis of Music in Film Translated by Anderson, G. (2013) [Kindle edition] From: Amazon.co.uk (Accessed on 10 Jan 2017
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (2016) [television programme online] SKY GO player. At: https://www.sky.com/watch (Accessed on 10 Jan 2017)
Assignment One – [Pt. I Proj.4] ~ Contemporary Classical- Sir John Tavener
CONTEMPORARY CLASSICAL- SIR JOHN TAVENER
Sir John Tavener (1944 – 2013)
John Tavener was fiercely encouraged and protected by his mother and his family’s financial support enabled him to thrive, already composing by the age of three. Tavener studied piano, organ and composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London under composers David Lumsdaine and Sir Lennox Berkeley. He was greatly influenced by Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ and Stravinsky’s ‘Canticum Sacrum’. Blake’s and St John of the Cross’s poetry and Donne’s sonnets where also instrumental.
As well as traditional material he was exposed to modern works by Messiaen, Ligeti, Boulez. Influences noticeable in compositions such as The Whale and Celtic Requiem. Innovative for the time, using tape and unusual instrumentation.
‘The Whale’ made quite a stir when debuted in 1968. Released on The Beatles’ own Apple Records it gained Tavener popularity and a following outside of classical circles. Set to the social backdrop of the psychedelic sixties it was very much a product of its age. General disillusionment had lead people to look East for spiritual meaning. This was echoed by Tavener’s search for metaphysical answers. Years later Tavener would again mirror the nations sentiments when‘Song for Athene’ was used for Princess Diana’s funeral.
At 36 fate dealt Tavener some serious blows. Within a short space of time his marriage to Victoria Maragopoulou came to an end and he also suffered a stroke. These traumas culminated in him seeking solace in, and converting to Christian Orthodoxy. It was later discovered that he had Marfan Syndrome and he continued to have health scares throughout his life.
He joined the Russian Orthodox Church in 1977 and soon sought out the Orthodox abbess Mother Thekla, who became both his spiritual teacher and librettist. When listening to my favourite pieces from this period; ’The Protecting Veil’, ‘Akathist’ and ‘Resurrection’ I clearly hear the tradition of the Slavonic mass with it’s sacred tones (fundamental drones), and micro tonal melodies based on the modes of the Octoechos. I was born into the Greek Orthodox Church. Although not a practicing Orthodox, the music still tugs at my heart strings. So unfamiliar to many Western ears, but so uniquely capable of expressing certain emotions and states of mind. Tavener and Mother Thekla expanded upon and further rejuvenated this style into a distinct musical language where text, music and instrumentations take on symbolic meaning. Tavener might have been one of the main exponents of Holy Minimalism, but I feel that his style evolved far beyond this definition.
After his break with Mother Thekla his work entered a new and final phase. His world view now pantheistic, his music taking elements from other traditions. The Rig Vedas, Rumi and Whirling Dervishes had already been introduced to him by his poet muse Kathleen Raine. He also explored the Eros principles to which he’d first awakened a number of years earlier. (Dudgeon, 2013:1786) Now the time was ripe for it to be incorporated. He started using elements of Sufi music, American Indians chants and Samavedic rhythms.
List of Illustrations
Figure 1. Lazic, S. (2017) Ikon page [Photograph] In: possession of: The author: Lazic.
Figure 2. Lazic, S. (2017) Ikon [Photograph] In: possession of: The author: Lazic.
Figure 3. Lazic, S. (2017) Incense burner [Photograph] In: possession of: The author: Lazic.
Classic FM. (2013) John Tavener (1944-2013) Biography At: http://www.classicfm.com/composers/tavener/ (Accessed on 21 Jan 2017)
Cummings, R (2013) John Tavener Biography At: http://www.allmusic.com/artist/john-tavener-mn0000379347/biography (Accessed on 21 Jan 2017)
Dudgeon, P. (2013) Lifting the Veil: The Biography of Sir John Tavener [Kindle edition] From: Amazon.co.uk (Accessed on 14 Jan 2017).
Encyclopaedia Britannica (2013) Sir John Tavener British Composer At: https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Tavener (Accessed on 21 Jan 2017)
John Tavener (with Peter Levy) (2013) [user-generated content online] Creat. dimbarsak 07Jan 2013 At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lozteqwh6EU (Accessed on 21 Jan 2017)
John Tavener (2014) The Essential John Tavener Box [CD Box set] Salbrook: Naxos Records.
Tavener, J (2013) Compositions At: http://johntavener.com/composition/ (Accessed on 21 Jan 2017)
Tavener, J. (1999) The Music of Silence A composer’s Testament. London: Faber and Faber Limited.
Assignment One – [Pt. I] – Reflective account
My first Assignment has been off to a bit of a rocky start. A family situation caused me to have to delay the course work. As a consequence I ended up rushing it and taking shortcuts. I skipped over reading the student handbook and assignment requirements and delved straight into the research. Bad plan! I wrote 8000 words about my chosen contemporary composer, only to discover that I should submit 500. Editing down 8000 into 500 turned out to be a gargantuan and mind bending task. I had to loose all the quotes I had painstakingly collected and the whole structure of what I had written had to change. Losing all this time editing also lead to me not having time to make an online blog. I will type up and collate all my hand written work notes, listening log, research, exercises and reflections and will submit future assignment in an online format.
Another aspect which suffered is that I did not have time to go to any live performances. I do go to concerts frequently. Being a sound engineer I also experience live music daily, but it would have been preferable to go to concerts with specific exercises in mind. The spaces we choose to perform music in, say a lot of the intention behind the music. Space interacts with both the sound and performance to create a story. Exploring how we share music with each other is significant. The choice of space has social and
creative implications. The degree of immersive-ness has a profound effect on what’s being communicated. I think how we choose to communicate something is very much linked to what we’re trying to communicate.
Working with the course material has been a real pleasure. I already had an interest in contemporary composers, but my knowledge was patchy and restricted to composers and styles I like. It has been expanded to include a much wider repertoire. I listened in detail to all the music listed (the entire pieces) in the course work, the Appendix and a lot more aside. I have discovered several sub genres I was not aware of. It’s also been great getting an overview and a social/historical perspective. I am really looking forward to learning about the other eras so that I can gain an even deeper understanding of the development of Western Art Music as a whole.
The film music project was particularly close to my heart since I aspire to write for film and games. I do enjoy analysing film scores and trying to learn from accomplished composers. I think it’s a great way to learn. The notation exercises are also very helpful. I believe in having a strong foundation.
The last thing I want to mention is that I greatly appreciate that the course is promoting developing your own opinions and identity. I want to develop my critical ear even further, but also learn the skill of being able to defend my opinions in an informed and professional manner.