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 Posted:   Dec 1, 2013 - 1:36 PM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

I'm starting a new mini-series of three blog posts on Morricone's well-known score for Once Upon a Time in the West.

Here's my take on Jill's theme (the main theme):

http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/ennio-morricones-score-for-once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-part-1-of-3-jills-theme-main-theme/

Enjoy!

 
 Posted:   Dec 1, 2013 - 3:50 PM   
 By:   Microceratops   (Member)


Brilliant job, thank you so much for this!!! Can't wait for Harmonica's theme smile

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 2, 2013 - 3:01 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

This looks absolutely wonderful, Ludwig van. When I'm finished with the Herrmann book I'll put your excerpts up on the piano and go through them!! This is very much appreciated and I believe the internet is a great place for these learning opportunities.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 2, 2013 - 5:02 AM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

An excellent analysis indeed, Ludwig. I always "loved" that theme, in a kind of passive way, but your reading of it makes me appreciate it in a whole new light. In fact, it makes me appreciate Morricone in general much more. There's always a danger of analysing something to death - especially if the premise is flawed in the first place - but I like your approach to interpreting Jill's Theme.

Not meaning to derail this, but it made me wonder what kind of percentage of film scores could stand up to this kind of detailed deconstruction - and how many cannot bear any scrutiny whatsoever beyond the simplest interpretation of "pounding drums highlight the excitement of the action" and "a nice violin shows that he loves her".

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2013 - 10:04 AM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

Not meaning to derail this, but it made me wonder what kind of percentage of film scores could stand up to this kind of detailed deconstruction - and how many cannot bear any scrutiny whatsoever beyond the simplest interpretation of "pounding drums highlight the excitement of the action" and "a nice violin shows that he loves her".

I suppose I believe that one can do a detailed analysis of almost any film score provided one is using the right tools. There are those who would believe this cue of Morricone's to be nothing more than a series of cliched melodic patterns over some dreadfully simple chords. But that would ignore the obviously unique use of instrumentation he employs, as well as the unusually confined vocabulary of melodic figures and harmonic progressions - in other words, the things that make Morricone Morricone.

Even when it seems that there is little more going on than, say, pounding drums or a violin line, there is usually more to be found. One brief example is "Night Fight" from CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, which one might say is "nothing more" than a perpetual series of drum beats. But that would be to miss out on the way the cue shortens the number of repeating beats (or meter) from 4 to an uneven 3 and finally to 2 at the end of the cue. The tempo also speeds up, all of which provides a very visceral sense of acceleration and propels the scene to its end, making for an exciting fight scene indeed!

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2013 - 11:27 AM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

I've got to say I like your style, Ludwig Van. I don't know why it's taken me this long to be aware of your site, but it's a treasure trove of thinking about film music and structural storytelling. Keep up the good work, and write a book one day.

 
 Posted:   Dec 3, 2013 - 11:41 AM   
 By:   Urs Lesse   (Member)

I'd like to join the applause for your work and would like to thank you for your analysis. smile

Please don't take it as an offence, but would it be possible to provide an optional different colour scheme (like www.screenarchives.com does when you click their "Change Style" option) for your blog? The grey/white on black looks fine for me at a brief glance, but when I want to delve into your text and really read it all, it gives my eyes a lot of flickering and makes it hard to read.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2013 - 5:02 AM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

Not meaning to derail this, but it made me wonder what kind of percentage of film scores could stand up to this kind of detailed deconstruction - and how many cannot bear any scrutiny whatsoever beyond the simplest interpretation of "pounding drums highlight the excitement of the action" and "a nice violin shows that he loves her". (said Graham Watt)

I suppose I believe that one can do a detailed analysis of almost any film score provided one is using the right tools. There are those who would believe this cue of Morricone's to be nothing more than a series of cliched melodic patterns over some dreadfully simple chords. But that would ignore the obviously unique use of instrumentation he employs, as well as the unusually confined vocabulary of melodic figures and harmonic progressions - in other words, the things that make Morricone Morricone.

Even when it seems that there is little more going on than, say, pounding drums or a violin line, there is usually more to be found. One brief example is "Night Fight" from CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, which one might say is "nothing more" than a perpetual series of drum beats. But that would be to miss out on the way the cue shortens the number of repeating beats (or meter) from 4 to an uneven 3 and finally to 2 at the end of the cue. The tempo also speeds up, all of which provides a very visceral sense of acceleration and propels the scene to its end, making for an exciting fight scene indeed!


Yes Ludwig, and therein lies the "danger" I mentioned. Not danger like in nuclear bombs danger, but the chance to pass off the paintings of a chimpanzee as the work of a genius. If you wrote about a score which was a mere haphazardly thrown-together bunch of library cues, and presented it in the same exhaustive way as you did the Morricone piece, well, I would certainly be taken in by your clever Wellesian leg-pull. And you can call me a monkey's uncle for that.

But I digress, and apologise once more for the derailment. On with the show - your piece on Jill's Theme was engrossing.

 
 
 Posted:   Dec 4, 2013 - 11:21 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Any analysis which reveals the internal logic of very good music is not only welcome but necessary, IMO.

 
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