Bravo, amigo! I'm listening to Disc 1 and it's impressive. The recording and the orchestration are different from the 1998 Warner Bros: to give you a quick idea, listen to "Denver Flashback" with the overlay.
1. Main Title 1M1, 5054-4/6, recorded 3/14/69 Last chord: 1M1A, 5055-1, 3/14/69 Harmonium overlay: 1M1H, 5003-2, 3/7/69
1_1. In the opening scene of The Wild Bunch, Pike Bishop (William Holden) leads a gang of (apparent) soldiers on horseback into an unsuspecting southern Texas town. On the outskirts, they pass a group of children who have gathered around a cauldron to watch ants and scorpions killing each other—a disturbing portrait that becomes the film’s central metaphor. In town, paroled con Deke Thornton (Robert Ryan) and a pack of shifty gunmen (bounty hunters hired by the railroad, although the viewer does not yet know this) watch from the rooftops. The atmosphere of tension and unease builds to the dramatic moment where the “soldiers” seize control of a railroad depot, and Pike snarls the indelible line, “If they move—kill ’em!”
1_2. “I felt that the task of the score to this movie was at the beginning,” Jerry Fielding told fellow composer David Raksin in a 1979 interview for the radio show The Subject Is Film Music (according to a transcript published in Soundtrack! magazine No. 23). “[To] set up something that’s tenuous…because you see the Wild Bunch coming, in American Army uniforms, and if you know that they’re not who you think they are, then the whole thing is shot.”
Fielding fosters this crucial ambiguity in two ways. First, he establishes an implacable snare drum line, but uses an 11-beat pattern—thus providing the sense of a march without actually establishing a march rhythm. A typical listener might not consciously become aware of the unusual meter, but will sense something out of place. Second, Fielding keeps the emotional tenor of the cue uncertain.
The brief figure that opens the main title is rather mournful; the Spanish-flavored trumpet and horn riffs vaguely sinister; and the major chords for strings and harmonium toward the middle of the cue optimistic. Only near the end of the cue does the tone clarify, with a sickening, descending line that leads into a wild orchestral trill and a hatchet-like descending tritone. Finally, a solitary E-minor chord (with added second) splashes against Sam Peckinpah’s director credit.
1. Attempt to Save Angel (0:00–2:06) 14M7R, 5088-5, 4/7/69 original title: “Long March”
• The scene in which Pike, Dutch, Tector and Lyle take up their rifles and march to the center of Agua Verde is one of the most iconic of the western genre—and perhaps all of cinema. Although critics often praise the stunning framing and expert lens work, Fielding’s contribution is no less essential.
As a sleepy street band drones a source-music rendition of “La Golondrina” (not duplicated here), Fielding begins a march with snare drum and cymbal, employing the same 11-beat meter that he used for the film’s main title. As the bunch nears the heart of Mapache’s lair, this lopsided cadence gradually dominates the film mix. The orchestra enters as Mapache notices them, and a forlorn horn line plays as Pike demands that Angel be turned over.