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 Posted:   Mar 31, 2014 - 12:34 AM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

Here is part 2 of my series on Morricone's classic score for ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, this time with an in-depth look at how Cheyenne's theme displays Ennio's highly unique style. Special thanks go to Mr. Shark for helping me identify the instrumentation.

http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/ennio-morricones-score-for-once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-part-2-of-3-cheyennes-theme/

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 31, 2014 - 10:01 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Here is part 2 of my series on Morricone's classic score for ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, this time with an in-depth look at how Cheyenne's theme displays Ennio's highly unique style. Special thanks go to Mr. Shark for helping me identify the instrumentation.

http://www.filmmusicnotes.com/ennio-morricones-score-for-once-upon-a-time-in-the-west-part-2-of-3-cheyennes-theme/


Good analysis - at least the bits I could follow in my musical ignorance!

I've said elsewhere that I don't much care for clippety-cloppity western music, the type that in my view pervades too many American westerns, and of course Cheyenne's theme is as clippety-cloppity as it gets. I theorise that Morricone wrote this theme in such a way because Robards represents the "old West", gradually being replaced by the age of the train and other modernities. That being the case, his demise is pretty much inevitable.

Might be a load of rubbish, but I like to think that's what Leone and Morricone had in mind...

TG

 
 Posted:   Mar 31, 2014 - 12:30 PM   
 By:   Mr Drive   (Member)

I theorise that Morricone wrote this theme in such a way because Robards represents the "old West", gradually being replaced by the age of the train and other modernities. That being the case, his demise is pretty much inevitable.

I would say this makes pretty much sense.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 31, 2014 - 3:17 PM   
 By:   mikael488   (Member)

Great analysis Ludwig,

As far as the orchestration is concerned; I do believe the strummed chords are played by an
acoustic guitar doubled by banjo, I strongly doubt it's a harp. In the other version (Cheyenne)
there's a harmonium or electronic organ playing soft chords in the background.

EDIT:
Compare that sound to the strummed string instrument that appears at 2:40 into
this track from Morricone's soundtrack to Duck You Sucker:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yao9ucvhhmY

Definitely a banjo and it sounds virtually identical to my ears.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 31, 2014 - 8:07 PM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

Great analysis Ludwig,

As far as the orchestration is concerned; I do believe the strummed chords are played by an
acoustic guitar doubled by banjo, I strongly doubt it's a harp. In the other version (Cheyenne)
there's a harmonium or electronic organ playing soft chords in the background.

EDIT:
Compare that sound to the strummed string instrument that appears at 2:40 into
this track from Morricone's soundtrack to Duck You Sucker:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yao9ucvhhmY

Definitely a banjo and it sounds virtually identical to my ears.


Thanks, Mikael! I'm always open to suggestions, so thanks for bringing this up.

In DUCK YOU SUCKER, yes, that's a banjo for sure. It has a strident, jingly-jangly sound that's very thin, has no body to it, no sense of fullness.

In OUATITW, we agree on the guitar. It's just the other instrument that doubles it. If you listen to the third strummed chord in the recording, you'll hear that this instrument starts just a hair before the guitar. It's also prominent in the fourth and fifth chords. In all these, you can hear a sound that is far less strident than the banjo. Still plucked string, but much mellower. That's why I say it's a harp.

I think it may be a case where the combination of instruments almost makes it sound like each of the two instruments loses its individuality and blends into something that sounds kind of like a banjo. I think that's how I'm hearing it, anyway.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 1, 2014 - 2:17 PM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

I theorise that Morricone wrote this theme in such a way because Robards represents the "old West", gradually being replaced by the age of the train and other modernities. That being the case, his demise is pretty much inevitable.

Yes, I'd agree, TG. After all, the theme of progress and the eradication of the old ways is prominent in the film. What is it Harmonica says to Frank just before their final showdown? Something like there will be other Mortons coming along who will kill off the "ancient race" of men, meaning those that live life by their gun rather than by running businesses. From that point of view, Cheyenne's demise was indeed inevitable.

Interesting then, that Frank/Harmonica's theme uses an electric guitar, a more modern instrument. Maybe it's more of a coloristic thing, something like the wordless soprano of Jill's theme, which is hardly a modern instrument, which seems incongruous with the way Jill adapts to the new ways, wanting to complete the railroad station. But then, as I suggested in the analysis, it captures her character in many other ways.

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 1, 2014 - 2:19 PM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

I theorise that Morricone wrote this theme in such a way because Robards represents the "old West", gradually being replaced by the age of the train and other modernities. That being the case, his demise is pretty much inevitable.

Yes, I'd agree, TG. After all, the theme of progress and the eradication of the old ways is prominent in the film. What is it Harmonica says to Frank just before their final showdown? Something like there will be other Mortons coming along who will kill off the "ancient race" of men, meaning those that live life by their gun rather than by running businesses. From that point of view, Cheyenne's demise was indeed inevitable.

Interesting then, that Frank/Harmonica's theme uses an electric guitar, a more modern instrument. Maybe it's more of a coloristic thing, something like the wordless soprano of Jill's theme, which is hardly a modern instrument and therefore could seem incongruous with the way Jill adapts to the new ways, wanting to complete the railroad station. But then, as I suggest in the analysis, the theme captures her character in many other ways...

 
 
 Posted:   Apr 1, 2014 - 7:46 PM   
 By:   franz_conrad   (Member)

Lovely analysis as per usual, Ludwig van. You should put together an e-book with all of your articles.

I agree with the discussion here about Robards' character and the demise of the Old West. By the end only Jill's theme has the majesty required to lead us into the future. It took an immigrant woman in a world of broken, cruel and old-fashioned men.

 
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