America was drowning in an odd funk of soup tasting like whatever tidbit was tossed into the pot. Above all that cacophony on a cloud of rarefied wisdom and craft soared this New Voice alone and apart: John Barry! Birds of a Feather may flock together but I peeled off like a Blue Angel from my generation's squadron of droning screamers and twangers into a solo flight of film music devotion.
There was a siren song to be followed and I was loosed from the mast. I came of age to the splendor of cymbaloms and kantala, moogs and French Horn choirs replete with syncopated eighth notes in a rhythm preening away beneath gorgeously seductive melodies from the pencil and staff of Mr. The Orchestral tour de force bonded with my DNA. I created seduction tapes on my reel to reel to stupefy the lissome lasses and fell them sonically into surrender to the waving baton of a maestro who could awe and tame as adroit as any liquor.
My honeymoon, the birth of my children, the evenings of after work unwinding, the highs and lows of wretched life on planet Earth with Viet Nam raging outside: each and all were made sense of by Barry's music. The music of my life: the sideburned staffsman's uncanny concoctions. Some men collect fast cars, great art or fine wine. I collected movie music albums in a burgeoning array of LP stacks replete with John Barry's latest, greatest incantations along with the Jerry Goldsmiths, Elmer Bernsteins and Lalo Schifrins galore.
The crates proliferated and soon I was more owned by them than they by me! Life, it is said, is what happens while you are busy making other plans. I never planned to be a 64 year old man living in a bedsitter room with most of my children grown and a chilling obituary notice flashing on my laptop screen notifying me that the man with the greatest gift I'd ever witnessed was no longer alive: John Barry had died.
I remained numb for days as snow fell and the world seemed cold and silent outside. The silence bespoke an emptiness I'd never known. Then, I began reading the words of others; hundreds Finally it sinks in. Art fills us as light fills a darkened room. John Barry's art was the music of our soul extending the reach of our grasp. If I have loved, I've done so more knowingly having been taught what beauty can be felt. Whatever is noble, heroic, seductive, visceral and majestic was enlivened on his canvas of sound.
Thank God I can reach for those gifts and replay the music of my life preserved in the amber of recorded sound. The Knack is my 18 year old self fresh out of school; alive to a world full of beautiful women. The Lion in Winter is my encounter with God. The Dove is my journey to a new life in California far from a cowtown in Texas.
Somewhere in Time is the death of my first wife as I rear three children alone. I am glad to have this opportunity to express my great admiration and respect for John Barry's music scores. To my mind there were two John Barrys, the Composer and the Conductor, each culminating in musical style. The work starting from subject matter, a film in rough cut after plotting musical cues with the then director and editor, the weeks and sometimes months of isolation when composing for a project, pulling the elements together however diverse, following his instincts being stylistic as only he could do it to "get a fix" from the blank manuscript paper.
The work structured with musical intentions, the character of the writing of the music trenchancy and direction of the scoring and cross referencing, building layer upon layer of musical textures creating complex sounds all starting as dots on paper. As if game-like, notation written with the help of a metronome and a stopwatch, musical colours exchanged from one instrument to another to be given a new life as it fades to be picked up by another musical bridge, to grow and then fade in spacious lyricism using his musicianship and interpretative imagination to bring his written "cues" to fit the confines of time restrictions.
Writing from one chord to another almost key changing. The melody staying in the logical sense but changes are happening like undercurrents taking the music into another mode his perfection of attach and clarity of harmonies and tone.
His feelings and moods, the theme and variations in his music are written structurally for film sequences, a score full of thematic motifs which can still retain its value as music when presented as a separate form. Divorced from the film. His impact Music And Poetry (CD depth of emotion with feeling not sentimentality for both orchestra and voices, for a non film work The Beyondness of Things using his own random thoughts for the function of the music. To enrich the music was John Barry the Conductor.
Barry always conducted his own work. Watching Mr Barry conduct in recording sessions, his body swaying, his baton jabbing and coaxing, this was the fun of the game for him. To finally stand in a Studio and conduct his finished score with the detail and subtleties that only he could give his music. I feel very fortunate in that I did meet the man, when both of us were quite young, and I have adored his music from so many award winning films. I came to first know John Barry Prendergast when I used to hang around back-stage at the Rialto cinema in York in the late 's during Sunday concerts on the stage.
These shows starred some of the biggest names in music at that time, from jazz to skiffle, from big bands to individual singers. Back-stage Barry as we called him used to regale the arriving audience with his favourite music played over the PA system from a turntable with LP's behind the stage curtains.
His favourites were Stan Kenton - then a major American big-band - as he had studied through a correspondence course with Bill Russo, a trombonist with this band. I was there taking photographs of all the stars for my own interest and personal collection. As a late teenager I had the run of the whole cinema, by kind permission of Barry's father, Jack Xavier Prendergast who owned it. I met and photographed all those greats and had a wonderful time most Sunday evenings.
At a time in the late 50's Barry decided to start his own rock band - the John Barry Seven - and his father asked me if I would take some photos of them for 'front of house' pictures. So I was the first person to photograph the John Barry Seven before they went on to success and other London photographers. Over the years, as history tells, the John Barry Seven gave way to John Barry the movie composer after having first been asked to 'rework' Monty Normans original James Bond theme tune.
That lead to other film music being scored for a whole series of Bond movies and then many other Hollywood and British block-busters including Born Free, Dances with Wolves, Out of Africa, Chaplin and many more. Wonderful music - almost classical, symphonic in its own way. At the beginning of the new Millennium I got to meet up with Barry again, here in York. I had nominated him for the Honorary Freedom of the City of York. After doing battle with the City Fathers of the day they were a lefty bunch back then which did not like 'honours' I eventually got them to bestow the Honorary Freedom of the City on Dr.
This was in June of and I and my wife Jean got to meet John again, and his wife Laurie, and had photos taken on that memorable occasion. It was a great event for a great man and he was clearly humbled by the historic significance of the occasion. A touch of irony was that the honour was bestowed on him by the Lord Mayor standing on the very same stage that Barry had sat on almost 50 years before as a young trumpeter playing in the dance band which used to play at the Assembly Rooms every Saturday - and that was where I had first asked Jean out to a dance in !
So the great man is gone but his great music will live on forever. I regard it as being a great honour to have known him, if only briefly, during his lifetime. If you like John Barrys music I can recommend no better collection than his "Moviola" album which contains many of his most haunting and emotional film themes. Read article Read article on this website.
At four in the morning they romp around the Thames' shores, steal a boat, leave it, almost touch each other emotionally but are they committed? The baby cries and exasperates her. The growing incompatibility of the couple is deftly outlined in bold, dramatic strokes The film is bleak but is also absorbing and eminently watchable thanks to great performances, atmospheric photography and a haunting score by John Barry which is just perfect for the movie, underlining its sense of sadness and yearning with mournful oboes and sighing flutes.
There was a good turnout for the movie with BFI 1 almost full. He then read a poem about a dead body in the river and the idea grew to make a film about London and its river. The screenplay was only partly written when shooting started. In the end the film is really three short films combined into one.
It took months to shoot. Simmons said that John Barry was his first choice to do the score. He had previously worked with Barry on a couple of commercials. Barry was shown the film and loved it but Simmons had to tell him that there was little money. The interviewer pointed out that was a good year for Barry Ipcress, Thunderball, Born Free etc and that he could probably afford not to take a fee. Barry was definitely on a roll in Both the interviewer and Simmons agreed that Barry wrote a great score.
Filming was not restricted to the early hours of the morning, sometimes cinematographer Larry Pizer would put black silk stockings over the lens and so there was an absence of black in the print which was consequently shades of grey.
The film played well in Europe and won several awards but had a limited release in the UK due to resistance by Rank.
They were eventually recorded and released by Larry Page. I shall attempt a sort of free sketch of Main Title to The Dove without bogging down in sordid details the non-musician might find soporific. John Barry prefers if past choices are to be an indication minor key melodies. Minor keys are the brooding, mysterious and sad ones. He also has a tendency to select the key of F for his major melodies and Fminor, Eminor or Cminor for his other venues. The Dove is an exception The key is plain vanilla C Major.
Look at your local piano. See those white keys? Yep, that's C major. It is what we like to call the guitarist's favorite key. I guess those glissandos are easier that way: A glissando is a sweep up or down hitting all the notes in a scale.
Barry's choices for what instruments are going to play his theme are unusual for him. The Big Band era used acoustic guitars for rhythm purposes and the jazz era developed a sort of strum and "fill" style that created an effective color. But, not until the invention of the electric guitar so you could actually HEAR the notes did the guitar come crashing to the front of the line. In The Dove, Barry has chosen for the guitar something completely unusual.
There are twin 12 string guitars they sound like that timbre, but, I suppose they might simply be gutstring creating a rather loud arpeggio in triplets three notes cycling over and over on both wings of the listener's field of aural soundscape. In other words: far left and far right.
We might well ask. I can't say. From a musical standpoint, nobody else did it before and it seems to work. Is that good John Barry - Ron Kavana - Irish Ways: The Story of Ireland In Song It has a rough texture that catches the ear and puts some "grit" in the mix.
Further, it has a psychological motive. The guitar is not a "formal" instrument. It is portable. It represents the vagabond, the adventurer out and about. Otherwise, your conservatory brand composer would have placed a HARP here instead of the guitar. This choice is friendly to the ear and catches the spirit of a sailing spree by young people on an adventure.
That's as much seat of the pants psychology as I can offer: Later, just for fun and contrast, I might go back and substitute different instruments in place of John Barry's and let you hear what a world of difference it makes to how you FEEL when listening. In addition to the guitars, John Barry is going to play his melody theme on the violins as a section not as a solo instrument and will have the flutes playing the same notes.
Musically, this is called "doubling". Cumulatively, the bass notes will be plucked by the double bass giant, fat, swollen-looking violins that stand upright: as the low strings always on the right give us a carpet ofshall we sayadditional rhythm, and provides a sweeping warmth to the mix. For punctuation, the timpani kettledrum adds a bit of emphasis here and there. You can't have John Barry and not have Horns. Barry's singular use of horns is sui generis.
He does it and nobody else does it like him. I can't imagine why they don't, frankly! The Horns, he discovered aroundcan be used in a choir three or more at once the way the piano player uses chords or the guitar player uses chords. Not to say he didn't know this before. He didn't really use it and develop the horn choir until mid 60's.
Great Movie Sounds of John Barry introduced our ears to this device. Listen to the track: From Russia with Love. The horns are clustered in the low register. It is turgid, muddy and almost unpleasant. This is a first effort. Later, Barry began putting the Horn Choir in the middle and high register to great effect. But, I digress In The Dove, the brass isn't used for beauty and majesty so much as it is for dramatic power and punctuation.
John Barry likes to double the strings, flute and marimba. A marimba is like a Xylophone or vibraphone, except the tone is precise and there is no after tone. In the Main Title's middle section the marimba "cuts through" the mix and gives definition to the rhythmic counter-melody in a way that neither strings nor flute can alone.
Further, if we subtract the melody content and expose the skeleton or spine of this composition we'll discover a sense of motion up and down the scale which is quite exhilarating in its energy and good-naturedness. The strings go high in one direction as another section goes low in the other.
Barry builds interest by changing paragraphs of whole thought. This highly stylized clockwork precision is transparent.
You always know what part of the orchestra to listen to. Never a dull moment. Each space has content. No clutter, no fuss and not once a train wreck. Now to the melody. The "tune", if we may call it that, goes from middle "E" to "E" above C and doubles back and forth on its way back down.
The tune is a series of cells of phrases mirroring each other and setting on top of a decending harmonic device that is as old as music itself. A unifying device is like the foundation on a building; it keeps the construction from toppling in confusion. In this case, the chords like Pachelbel's canon decends the C major scale.
Barry indicates these notes either with harmony or with the bass as the melody rides on top. Well, no spades necessary: Hum the Dove tune starting on the E of the scale while somebody else sings Joy to the World and you have it!!
Each note must be held the same duration, however. Oh, nevermind! All music has some architecture. James Bond theme has a "vamp" that goes up and down three adjacent notes PLUS the guitar melody has a catchy rhythm repeated over and over. That's the architecture. It is memorable and emotionally exciting. The DOVE uses scalewise motion and the guitar arpeggios.
Where does this leave us in our understanding of what this Main Title is? Let's sum up:. Bottom line? Simplicty is created by Barry by the magic trick of repetition.
You don't get lost in all the commotion. Like any good Magician, John Barry directs you where he wants you to attend and hides the actual work involved in pulling off the illusion. What is music but melody, harmony and rhythm? The tune is the melody.
The string background and the movement of the scale down and up the white keys on the piano or C scale provide the harmony. The guitars, plucked string bass, marimba are the rhythm, John Barry - Ron Kavana - Irish Ways: The Story of Ireland In Song. Mostly, Barry uses a different part of the scale for his variation. High, Middle, Low. Up and then down. Down and then up. One last thing to listen for: the flutes and woodwinds and marimba take turns. As one group is doing somersaults upward, the other group is merely sliding downward, downward downward.
Then, they change places. We have one choir sliding downward while the other choir somesaults upward. Note: this "blend" of tones creates tension and harmony. Passing tones are interesting to the ear. Think of a juggler keeping pins in the air and adding yet more. As one pin spins upward another is simultaneously decending as one hand passes the catch to the other hand's pitch.
What is the best way to keep track of what you are listening to? I start with the lowest instrument. If you listen to the lowest thing you can hear you automatically hear everything else on top with clarity. It takes a little practice.
You have to relax. Try NOT listening to the top notes at all. It ain't easy, Bub. The human ear is selective. Information seeking. We learn culturally that information is at the top.
Everything beneath is relegated to background context. However, in listening to music, the rules change. Music is built on the lowest note. Beethoven composed his symphonies, for example, by first composing the bass notes! All else was built on the foundation. Main Title to The Dove is built on that skipping bottom pizzacato plucked string bass. This is our cast of characters. We always know who is on stage. We always know where we are. We know why. One last topic: what makes The Dove so enjoyable as a score?
It contains recognizable Barryisms, certainly. However, John Barry had a very rich period of pure invention. Just before he sunk into a one-size-fits-all approach, John Barry approached each and every movie with a clean slate. Everything was different. You simply did not know what NEW thing you would hear.
The variety of conception is astounding. Nobody else sounded like him. He never sounded like others. One of a kind. One of John Barry's stylistic quirks is that he really loathed the drumkit.
He tried to avoid typical percussion schemes. Too conventional and predictable for him! Instead, Barry began treating the right side of the strings low end as a rhythm section. From the early 70's forward, more and more of JB's creations used this scheme. This finally became a mannerism and a fall back. Listen to the drumkit. When does the downbeat come?
Where is the typical beat? Listen to any of his tv theme work and ask yourself "where is the drumkit? I digress The DOVE is about texture, movement and a really good mood. The horns give the adventure and the melody grants optimism. Finally, one thought. A story about two beautiful young people on a sailboat would seem to cry out for lush romanticism. Barry could do that, right?
A very Barryesque score! But, John Barry doesn't give us lush at any part. Stop and think about that. Never are there sweeping violins in the now typical Barry manner. What do we have instead? Never lush romance. The adventure is discovery " Of all the Barry creations, The Dove stands alone in the palette, colors and arrangement of instruments. Terry Walstrom. Seeing Mickey Mouse in black and white in was a decisive moment. I was four years old and those five minutes marked me for life.
From then on, you couldn't get me out of my father's cinemas: being an assiduous visitor was the basis of my education, both in films and in music. It was the best school I could have had.
I was a child and already I was analyzing the relationship between what I could see and what I heard. I'd see the same film up to three times a day with different audiences, and I ended up understanding films from the inside, especially the interplay between music and scenes, point or counterpoint.
Films were an extraordinary means of escape from the everyday greyness and the war. Not to mention the noir films or the Hollywood musicals: they gave me the impression I was living in the United States. To his film-culture he added a solid, classical education that was thoroughly shaken when he felt the jazz earthquake as a teenager.
I was immersed in Chopin or Sibelius and I looked down at him; to me, jazz was a sub-language in music. Why would I bother listening to someone blowing into a saxophone when I had Mahler? One day, when I was around fifteen, I started getting interested in the history of jazz and its different styles, and I developed a passion for the modern school: Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Gerry Mulligan's Quartet with Chet Baker… What they played came as a revelation: I had to admit that it was another form of expression; it was stupid to create a hierarchy between jazz and the classical repertoire.
And so I started playing the trumpet Inthe composer formed The John Barry Seven with some old friends he'd known during his military service, all under the influence of Little Richard or Bill Haley. Their popularity grew crescendo and, one thing leading to another, Barry turned to composing for films.
Thanks to the cinema, he was able to create a synthesis between the different cultures that had formed his apprenticeship. In no time at all, a series of box-office hits catapulted him into the limelight as a composer for the young and modern: Born FreeThe Knack -a film-manifesto for Swinging London- the first James Bond films, and also those featuring the anti-Bond, Michael Caine in the role of Harry Palmer. Millions of film-buffs and music-fans discovered the singular splendour of John Barry's compositions: an unconventional harmonic universe filled with booby-traps, plus a very personal feeling for lyricism, melodies that were instantly catchy, a taste for characteristic, unusual timbres, not to mention the surprises created by his orchestration… Walking a tightrope between the wide-screen spectacular and the film d'auteurJohn Barry is a sophisticated composer whose most visible, most famous scores say, the action movies, the Bond films did little to hide a more secret, melancholy vein that tended towards introspection.
InJohn Barry was forty-two. He'd been living in Majorca for a year when he accepted an offer to go to Los Angeles and write the music for Eleanor and Franklin, a film made for television by the Canadian director Daniel Petrie, and in October that year he settled in at The Beverly Hills Hotel. His American stay was due to last a few weeks at most; he still lives there today, some thirty-four years later. Barry took advantage of his visit to begin composing a 12" LP that was highly original, containing music "seen" exclusively through his own eyes.
I needed to recharge my batteries, take on a new project that was quite different, like a breath of oxygen. So I went about it the way I usually do: I took notes spontaneously, on instinct, without even thinking about the way to treat them later. It might have been the first bars of a melody, a harmonic sequence or some counterpoint The idea just came to me; I thought about it, jotted it down and then let it settle Put together, the different ideas all took shape as Americansa personal impression of the sights and sounds of the United States.
It was the vision which an Englishman actually a Northerner had of the country that had fed his imagination as a youngster. I tried to find the sensations of my first visit again, when I crossed The Atlantic for the first time at the end of the Fifties. Imagine the symbol: me, born in Old York, discovering New York! It was a way of confronting my dreams with reality.
After the hectic pace of the previous fifteen years—a period that included ten films in alone—this first orchestral album outside the film-world gave Barry the opportunity to regain control over his freedom. It's also just as exciting to have the power of decision over your own music It allows your brain to function differently Take the famous Yesternight Suitefor example; I conceived and imagined it the way I wanted to, quite freely.
In films, I'd never have been allowed to compose a piece lasting seventeen minutes; in fact it's one of the longest I've ever written. It has a vast continuity exploring quite different atmospheres, and it links very contrasting moods. I didn't want to disconcert listeners too Music And Poetry (CD, just give them the odd hint with standards that were objective That's a lesson I learned from my father: you must have a feeling for the audience.
As an owner of cinemas and theatres, he always used to say: "Make them laugh, make them cry, make them thrill! Facing John Barry were two formations, both of them physical incarnations of his twin cultures: an orchestra of fifty musicians with first violin Israel Bakercompleted by a fiery jazz combo.
Barry had summoned some great players: trombonist Dick Nash and trumpeter Tony Terran, not to mention saxophone virtuoso Ronnie Lang, who was later the soloist on Body Heatanother Barry masterpiece. To me, the timbre of an alto saxophone has deep ties with America's great cities, and New York at night; a suggestion of urban solitude.
That's what I tried to convey in the pieces where Ronnie's the soloist, like Social Swing or some parts of the Yesternight Suite. On the other hand, Strip Drive evokes Los Angeles, cruising down the coast at sunset. Speaking Mirrors represents the city-architecture, those forests of tall buildings with towers of glinting glass.
Listening to these compositions again, I realise how much I loved working with those sublime musicians. At a pinch, I conducted them like a filmmaker directs his actors.
Right from the start, they gave me the nuances I was counting on. They were rivalling with each other, playing together like brothers. Listen to the trombone and saxophone duet on Downtown Walker, for example, a kind of stroll through Manhattan: Nash develops a carefree melody while Lang stubbornly repeats the same phrase in a loop, like a translation of the unceasing movement there is when you're walking.
I love that principle: like in Midnight Cowboythe counterpoint is just as important as the melody To complete this reissue there are four John Barry titles from the Polydor years, including the theme from Follow methe film that documented his meeting with veteran director Carol Reed.
Personally, I was extremely flattered and impressed to find myself facing the director of The Third Man ; the film left an indelible mark on me when I was a teenager. The theme composed and played on the zither by Anton Karas is a definitive model for obviousness and efficiency It made me understand that a single instrument with a strange timbre, playing a tiny melody, can have more dramatic impact than a whole flood of orchestras. They were meant to instantly catch the viewer's ear, with a heady bass line, scraping harmonies, and a very simple melody played solo on the cimbalom.
At the time, I was working with an astounding English musician named John Leach, a real wizard who collected all kinds of ethnic instruments from around the world. John's help was very precious to me: the weird instrumental ideas he brought in allowed me to turn some of my ambitions into reality, particularly the idea of always aiming for a fresh, original, unconventional sound.
Americansin particular, can be listened to like a permanent firework display, one whose jazz pulse and energy still allow glimpses of an overshadowing lyrical tristesse. A state of grace somewhere between swing and disillusionment… Twenty-three years later, for Decca, Barry would record two more albums outside the world of films, the works of a composer who'd reached maturity: The Beyondness of Things and Eternal Echoes. The colour of those albums is more autumnal, and their inspiration more elegiac, more introspective, too.
As if spleen, both in the man and in the artist, had finally gained the upper hand. It's a side of my personality that I no longer try and hide So, when I listen to Americans today, I'm both amused and troubled at the same time: it's like going through an old album and finding a photo of me taken in But it was still a thrilling experience, a record with the concept of an imaginary soundtrack: for the very first time, instead of appearing on a screen, the images came from inside me.
On entering the Royal Albert Hall arena well before the starting time of 7. Firstly, no programmes had been printed we weren't told why. The hall seemed slow to fill and I guessed it was no more than two-thirds full when start-time arrived. As I'd heard only a couple of days before that JB was feeling unwell, it was something of a relief to see him walking onto the stage at 7.
He was greeted by loud and enthusiastic applause, plus a few screams! He began at once, without a word, and it was as though nothing had changed from those triumphant concerts of the late nineties as he took the orchestra through a powerful performance of Goldfinger, always his concert opener.
But everything changes. With just a wave, he departed the rostrum and Paul Bateman walked on to replace him. And we soon noticed more than just a change of personnel. Bateman was conducting the usual suspects, Born Free, Chaplin, Body Heat and Mary Queen of Scots, but even on these slow numbers, an increase in the usual tempo was very apparent.
I don't know if this was deliberate or due to slight unfamiliarity with Barry's repertoire, but it worked beautifully, giving the performances a freshness.
Bateman ended with The girl with the sun in her hair, which destroyed my idea of a possible encore for John Barry. During the interval I could hear a few people grumbling about the lack of a programme — "what was the fifth piece they played?
There was speculation as where the Ten Tenors would position themselves as room on the stage seemed to be at something of a premium. John Barry reappeared at around 8. But no, he briefly introduced the Ten Tenors and "our conductor tonight, Paul Bateman". He then departed, not quite quickly enough to avoid an earful of extremely powerful vocal from the TT's opening number.
If I had to sum up the TTs, powerful would do it. Though this can be an John Barry - Ron Kavana - Irish Ways: The Story of Ireland In Song on certain numbers, and in particular on Here's to The Heroes, for me it doesn't work so well on all Barry's ballads.
However, they certainly gave it their all and I was impressed at how well they maintained their recorded sound in a "live" environment. They sang all the Barry numbers on their new CD, so many had the opportunity of hearing the three new songs for the first time. It's hard to estimate how they went down with the audience, since everything was applauded with the same vigour! The augmented English Chamber Orchestra was in terrific form and once again there was a noticeable increase in the tempo.
This was the best received piece of the evening, receiving prolonged and enthusiastic applause. John Barry returned to the stage for the usual ovation, and was happy to share the occasion with the TTs and Paul Bateman. And that was it. The second half was only about minutes long, from memory, and although this was partly due to Bateman's impressive brisk style of conducting, we could have done with a couple more orchestral numbers to finish off. Zulu would have been a wonderful finale or even an encore for John.
Never mind, it was wonderful just to see him again, looking a little thin and frail, as usual, but without any apparent nerves and with a smile on his face! On Universal Exports James Bond fansite. It was a strange experience, like being in another era. The programme began with selected clips from early shows which included Hughie Green introducing Mario Lanza, and Bobby Darin singing 3 songs at the end of a tour of England. What a classy performer he was. Some of the 'variety' acts were acrobats and dancers and, to be honest, didn't really hold the attention.
Then we had a complete show fromintroduced by Bruce Forsyth. It included a speciality dance act who threw some poor girl around the stage, Beryl Reid as 'Marlene', an American opera star I'd never heard of, "Beat the clock" and finally, the moment we had been waiting for: The John Barry Seven! Brucie made a point of talking about the 'new sound' or noise, as he kept saying, during his intro. John Barry looked nervous on trumpet and again when conducting. One curio was that regular saxophonist Jimmy Stead was missing.
His dep was a short, very thin guy with receding dark hair - no idea who that was. The curators seem to be much enamoured of it. Of course, the real star of the show was Adam Faith. And he didn't disappoint. Then, Brucie came on dressed as Adam. They bantered and did a duet of 'Poor Me'. I was really impressed with Adam who couldn't have been more than 19 or 20 at the time. He seemed quite unfazed by it all and matched Brucie line for line. There was mention of a Blackpool summer season up and coming so I'm guessing the show was recorded around Easter of When it was over they jumped on the revolving stage thing with the JB7 and the rest of the performers as the credits rolled.
The NFT audience applauded loudly at the end. I was so glad I caught it and pleased that the episode is in the archives.
Luke's was devoted to a faithful re-creation of Barry's much-lauded score, a mixture of classical and modern influences from plainchant to Prokofiev. In celebration of John Barry's seventieth birthday, the composer himself strode out to the podium for a rapturous standing ovation after the piece, which was presented accompanied by a specially created assembly of clips from the film while the orchestra and chorus performed most of the score's key sections admirably in synch, with a full and accurate re-creation of Barry's singular and unmistakable sound.
Unfortunately, the interviewer didn't know that Barry--a charming and amusing raconteur when dealing in personalities and anecdotes--hates talking about his "work process. The New York crowd was entirely with him, however, and laughed appreciatively at JB's occasional mugging and one-liners. I offered the speculation that JB is simply at a place where his tolerance for the kind of industry bullshit that's become SOP endless revisions, micromanagement, no one person in charge is at zero, and the contact agreed, "It' sub-zero tolerance.
He's my favorite movie composer in the world, and it'll be a miracle if he ever scores another film. After the intermission or, for my Brit buds, the "interval"that's "half-time," TerryI discovered 9-year-old Jonpatrick sitting right behind me, along with a couple of cousins, and I believe Laurie's sister and her husband.
And a more attentive and respectful audience I haven't seen in my last few years of theatre-going. You could hear a pin drop. I never considered, even for a moment, trying to remind JB of our several previous meetings over the years and that interview we never got round to doing, grrrbut since he was right there in my face, what the hell, I stuck out my hand and said, "Always great to see you, sir.
I've been waiting thirty years to give you a standing ovation for that score, and all the others. Come back to this podium soon, and stay longer, will you? Oh, by the way, the performance of orchestra and chorus was quite wonderful The lead trumpet hit one or two minor melvins during the main title and the volume wasn't turned up to "eleven" as I'd have it on my stereo, but overall it was a superb performance.
What is the point of slippage? Slippage is a theory of how things are actually "created". Nothing is ever truly original. But, by increments an old way of doing things, or thinking things becomes entirely novel and fresh. This is easily done with musical tunes. You have the theme to Candid Camera.
But, let us go deeper. What if you take action music, for example, and apply slippage. What are the rewards? Onscreen there are frantic images and tense situations, lots of ambient sound, noise, effects, etc. The expectation is music that mimics that activity. For the composer that means writing a lot of notes. For the orchestra: playing fast. For the sound mixer: one more group of sounds to be blended.
For the audience? Maybe just too much of everything. All that work the composer went through and the details are blurred into a soup. What if the composer applies slippage? Instead of hundreds of fast notes he slips in just a few slow notes? What if the tempo is broad and brackets the beginning and end rather than changing lanes like a racecar?
What if there is an actual melody instead of riffs and ostinati? After all, how many mood changes can be provoked in an audience?
Is the purpose of the action an emotionally significant one? Can that be stated in a word? Can the music not stick to that emotional tone and be successful? Take any recent action movie with music behind it and you'll hear a mammoth wall of sonic assault. In effect, it is bursts of noise played by instruments. The visceral effect is not unlike a large group of people stomping their feet.
Raw Energy is what it amounts to. But, is it emotionally informative? I've stated all the above to make the following statement. Perhaps film composers by using slippage make a huge and important discovery about film music: Simple is better than complex in action music. An exhilaration can stem from happiness or anger or awe but it is one emotion. Why duplicate what is onscreen? Let us take an example: John Barry had many many opportunities to explore the effect of action music in the Bond films.
Bond films had in the music a serious tone. My opinion is that the serious tone made the cartoonish action onscreen work much better. With the advent of Dolby sound recording the amount of sonic information delivered to the audience's ears doubled, then tripled over time. A film composer finds his music being drowned out. Melodic composers best efforts were, in effect, destroyed. But, the declamatory composers' efforts were not affected at all.
Not the only problem. The scene could be changed and changed and changed again by the editor almost up until the week of release. A carefully timed score based on melody and synchronized action moments would be immediately rendered ineffective when edited.
Not so a score with mere short cells of rhythm and chords. Consequently, the truly gifted melodic composers began vanishing from action films. John Barry figured out a way. Loooooong, slooooow melody lines so broad it would fit over the entire scene no matter what the quick cut changes because the general definitive mood was in place. It was no longer a salad but a meal. Our ears are accustomed to the usual approach, to be sure. But, I for one like the melodic approach very much.
The greatest tribute to Barry's method is in Dances with Wolves. The melodies are very strong. There is energy and there is content emotionally. The music tells you something as in a complete thought or sentence with the melody as the subject and the tempo as the verb and the emotional result the direct object. Slippage works. The music is very slow and broad. There is no sense of matching the editing tempo to the music. However, the enormity of the exhilaration in realizing the beauty of Africa comes almost entirely from what the music accomplishes.
Busy busy busy music simply could never deliver such a wallop. Producers who are too scared of not being conventional with their music score are missing out on a great deal by not trusting John Barry's journeyman instincts.
But, the biggest loss is on the part of the audience. We find it more and more difficult to FEEL something no matter how terrific the special effects onscreen.
I ask you to compare any action scene in a recent James Bond movie scored with wall to wall sonic assault by David Arnold with John Barry's efforts a decade or so earlier. Which is more emotionally satisfying? After all, like so many things in life it is a matter of taste.
But, I'd rather slip out the current method and slip in the emotionally true one. If you were seated in a room opposite two people having an argument in Chinese you are likely to remember what they did and the tone of their conflict.
But, the particulars would certainly be absent; i. The general grievances might have substance and merit on both sides, of course, but you'd never know--would you? Now, change the Chinese couple to people who speak your own language. You could follow the nuances of the argument and fit the dialogue to the general tenor of anger, resentment and rebuttal in a more meaningful way.
I submit that action music is analogous. How so? In John Barry's action music, as we all know so well, there are "words" and "phrases" selected out of the melodic main theme which are always intelligible as such even when "spoken" fast or slow or this instrument and that one.
Take Goldfinger, for an instance of this. In the PRE-title sequence we will hear the "gold-fing-er" phrase in many guises. We will find it parallel with the semi-tone rising and falling James Bond motif too. These occurrences of readily identifiable phrases are like bookmarks that enable our perhaps non-musically educated minds to keep pace with the action onscreen in a discernible way.
In effect, we are reading several texts simultaneously like having three books open in front of us and skipping from one to the other without losing THE SENSE of any of them in the process. The visual, the general ambient sound or dialogue and the music can fit together and integrate a conglomerate thought which might otherwise be too complex or inexplicable to cohere comprehensively. From Russia with Love gave me personally the best glimpse into how Barry achieves the cohesion of his style with the film.
There are many separate melodic themes that circulate throughout the film. The general genius of fitting them together and overlaying one atop the other is the real prize. The melody to the song From Russia with Love, though it be composed by Lionel Bart, is so elegantly taken apart and reassembled over and over again by John Barry that no matter what new guise it appears in we recognize it as a part of some previous whole, Music And Poetry (CD. Five note phrase This too has the James Bond rising falling figure.
Now Guitar Lament isn't action music per se. But, it is a gentle way of demonstrating the technique in use. The real action music is the theme unique on all the Bond films. Barry has a theory about the lurching rhythm of that I always refer to as Clusters of eighth notes with the duration of three eighth notes followed by three more and then two for a total of eight to the bar.
Barry believes by breaking up the rhythm into unconventional beats there is a sense of forward movement which is more dynamic than straight accents on 2 and 4 or 1 and 3 which is natural to pop music.
Barry lays his very simple theme for horns and brass on top the lurching rhythm and it is all very easy to follow. The in-between accents in the snare drums and instrument groups certainly lend excitement without over-complicating what the mind easily follows.
Without overdoing my explanation I'll just point one thing out. There is a lot going on for the ear to follow individually in However, it isn't difficult at all to comprehend because Barry's logic and layout are exceedingly well chosen. The tuba lays down the bass with a first and fifth note alternating and the brass echoes the chord with their PAH. What Barry does is substitute the kettledrum or low bass for the Tuba and change the duration to the The "answering" PAH fits in the spaces.
Clever and effective. Goldsmith, on the other hand has many changes in rhythm per track alternating unexpectedly to keep your sense of expectation off-balance. He varies his instrument groups and interlaces them with electronic "stings" or supplemental colors constantly. Now you see it--now you don't is the order of the day. I very much enjoy Goldsmith's action music without having instant comprehension of what the music is "saying" internally.
For me, raised on songs and singing and lyrical melodicism I am drawn to a song-like leading line in music. Barry really beautifies his action music lyrically. Sometimes it has a disturbing beauty to it. Barry's music for the Diamonds are Forever laser weapon in space is gorgeous and statelybut, lyrical. In The Man with The Golden Gun his action music practically sings the song to you while the orchestra decorates the rhythmic background wittily.
His theme returns again and again in so many variations and guises it is burned into your subconscious indelibly. Naturally it is obvious he is mining the Bond-like similarities of the films while remaining true to his own muse. The greatest thrilling action music of Goldsmith, for me, is in films like Papillon and The Wind and the Lion where moments of great lyricism penetrate the kaleidoscopic variants raging in the orchestra in flurries of mathematical complexity.
These two men have invented their own particularities. Of the two you would expect the easier man to imitate is John Barry. You would be wrong! There are more composers imitating Goldsmith than have ever come close to John Barry. Take just two. David Arnold and George S. Arnold only appears to complement Barry's style.
But, he cheats. Nocturne The Spring Sea The King's Ballad Night Visitor Farewell Main Title And Foreword Joseph And Lockwood Cathy Jumps Up Cathy's Return The Garden He Walks To Bed Horseman's Fanfare The Djinn The Golden Tent Zapata And The Peons Rebel Gathering Of Forces Zapata, The Troubled Leader Zapatistas Battle Against Huerta Conscience Zapata Vive!
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