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 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 12:45 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE
L'uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo
Morricone's Giallo
#41



This series is inspired by a controversy thread where someone posited the idea that besides THE MISSION and some Sergio Leone westerns Ennio Morricone hasn't written anything great. Rather than making my usual comment that most of Morricone's great scores are from Italy and trying to get Americans to listen to them is like getting them to see movies with subtitles, I decided to take another tact. Since I am at an age where I will only be able to make my case a finite number of times I decided to turn this into a series presenting each great score one at a time, sort of like recordman.

I do have to go into “Giallos” and the dissonant world they are a part of eventually but I kept putting it off. This is one area that Morricone pioneered and I can’t ignore it. Before this score the female voice in suspense scores would be used for otherworldly ghostly effects, nursery rhymes and lullabies (but not with quite the creepiness that it is done here). But Ennio also adds another element here. A series of moans that veer from mild struggle and agony to wild orgasm. I don’t remember anyone having done this before. It is one of the kinkiest combinations in film history. It is borderline pornographic and I played it a lot as a young man.big grin It also became something that was used again and again by quite a lot of composers. When I saw KLUTE a few years later I immediately said to myself Michael Small must be a Morricone fan. The more popular lullaby main theme is what is on Youtube so I’ll present that:





Giallo means yellow in Italian and gets it’s name for the same reason “Pulp” novels in America came to be, the quality of the paper these books were printed on. The cinematic equivalent came into being around the time the great Mario Bava started doing his early slasher movies in the early 60s. They may seem relatively tame now but they were truly “cutting edge” when they came out. But a young man who contributed to writing 13 screenplays before he got to direct THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE brought all of this to another level. If Alfred Hitchcock visited areas of sadism and masochism in his films Dario Argento wallowed in it. His contribution to ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST was creating the (spoiler) noose-around-neck-of-young-boy-while-his-little-brother-balances-him-on-shoulders-with-harmonica-in-mouth-in-hot-sun torture. That’s the type of guy Dario is, he looks like Roberto Benigni but with the heart of the Marquis DeSade. This was Dario’s debut with as a centerpiece a young American (Tony Musante) watching a young Italian girl being stabbed in the lobby of a gallery while only a huge glass window separates them.
This was for Morricone in the Giallo genre what A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS was for him in the western genre. After this everybody asked him to do one. In the next couple of years alone he does IL DIAVOLO NEL CERVELLO, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE, WHO SAW HER DIE?, FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET, La CORTA NOTTE DELLE BAMBOLE DI VETRO, GIORNATA NERA PER L'ARIETE, BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA, COLD EYES OF FEAR, A LIZARD IN A WOMAN'S SKIN, THE CAT O' NINE TAILS, LE FOTO PROIBITE DI UNA SIGNORA PER BENE and others. And all the other Italian composers are asked to do, more or less, what he did for similar films.
There is some nice lounge in this score, 5 versions of the main theme and even a drinking song. But mainly it is of the music is of the dissonant variety. But I have long since stopped dismissing music with that label. As you may have heard on the MADDALENA and OCEANO soundtracks dissonance comes in all different varieties. Some may even object to that label on certain scores but it all follows simple rules. I like Wikipedia's take:

[satrtquote]Dissonance is the quality of sounds that seems "unstable" and has an aural "need" to "resolve" to a "stable" consonance. Both consonance and dissonance are words applied to harmony, chords, and intervals and, by extension, to melody, tonality, and even rhythm and metre. Although there are physical and neurological facts important to understanding the idea of dissonance, the precise definition of dissonance is culturally conditioned

This one leans toward jazz with percussion and horns racing in with various patterns. Edda is used a lot and my favorite of her’s is the combination excellerating heartbeat/orgasm simply called “L'uccello dalle piume di cristallo”. There is also wind chimes, female chorus, vibes, organ and a couple more harsh suspense pieces.
This score was a landmark also because it had an American LP release which was a total rerecording by Morricone. BTW Tony Musante only did about a dozen films in Italy but most of them were scored by Morricone, including THE MERCENARY. And Dario Argento not only went on doing more Giallos with Morricone but then he shifted more to straight horror and started a classic collaboration with the legendary group Goblin with SUSPIRIA. Finally he came back with Morricone for a couple more movies in the late 90s.

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 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 12:59 PM   
 By:   David Sones (Allardyce)   (Member)

Another addictive score from Il Maestro for me. I particularly like the end title version of the theme, which has a bit more kick to it. Pretty good little movie, too!

Interestingly, while I like all of this score, in the case of Il Gatto a Nova Code, I only like the main theme (Ninna Nana in Blu); the rest of it is excruciating to listen to.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 1:04 PM   
 By:   Montana Dave   (Member)

One of my very favorites of his. I cannot say I play it much though, I've got to be in 'just the right frame of mind' to fully enjoy this score. Genuinely frightening, particularly when listened to and you're the only one in the house and it's a dark and stormy night out....
It's remained a favorite over the decades probably because I saw this at a retrospective in the early 70's with a date who kept covering her eyes and grabbing my arm when the killer with a knife would jump out of the darkness....Morricone's music definately helped the film. Potent stuff! I'm glad I got the recent Italian import of a couple years ago.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 1:16 PM   
 By:   blue15   (Member)

I picked up the original Cinevox lp - MDF 33/31 - back in the 70s, and my eyes almost popped out of my head when I saw what a copy went for on Ebay yesterday:

http://cgi.ebay.com/LUCCELLO-DALLE-PIUME-DI-CRISTALLO-Morricone-MINT-LP-/160552341921?pt=Music_on_Vinyl&hash=item2561aa51a1

 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 1:34 PM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

One of my favorite Morricone scores and probably the best he did with Argento. I'm not that fond of his score for Phantom of the Opera (very traditional) but his haunting theme for "Stendhal Syndrome" is spot on and very creepy. For me Bird with the Crystal Plumage is the quintessential giallo score. Cat O' Nine Tails a great continuation.

That’s the type of guy Dario is, he looks like Roberto Benigni but with the heart of the Marquis DeSade.

Hmm... I think that's a harsh portrayal of Dario Argento, he's one of the kindest persons you could meet and a fan of cinema. Just because he isn't afraid to find art in violence, doesn't mean he's a pervert. The same can be said of a Paul Verhoeven or David Cronenberg.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 2:31 PM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

I first came across the Maestro's theme for L'Uccello Dalle Piume Di Cristallo on one of those old vinyl compilation albums - just as with so many of his themes. This had a pretty melody though the La la las did grate a little ... and raised a few queries from family members who were around.

But in for a penny ... I decided to try the score/OST and I'm glad I did as the theme becomes so much more satisfying when heard in context. Same goes for Il Gatto A Nove Code and, to a lesser extent, Quattro Mosche Di Velluto Grigio.

I know that the three are often discussed together but they are so different and each merits many listens. L'Uccello ... is probably the most accessible of the three but, having worked on listening to Il Gatto ... I found it clicked with me and now find it very satisfying.

I watched L'Uccello ... a few months ago but did not find it at all involving; I have Il Gatto ... recorded but have yet to watch - I'm not hopeful.

Of the more recent scores I really like The Stendhal Syndrome though I know the heaving breathing passages irritate my wife.

 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 3:10 PM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)

I've always liked the scores for the Argento's "Animal trilogy" (Bird/Cat/Flies) by Morricone but honestly I prefer much much much more the Goblin's scores. They fit perfectly Argento's suspenceful art in a way totally different from Morricone's (e.g. electronic music vs. instrumental athonality). So IMHO nothing can beat masterpieces like Red Deep, Phenomena or Suspiria, not even the Crystal Bird smile

 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 3:18 PM   
 By:   Francis   (Member)

I've always liked the scores for the Argento's "Animal trilogy" (Bird/Cat/Flies) by Morricone but honestly I prefer much much much more the Goblin's scores. They fit perfectly Argento's suspenceful art in a way totally different from Morricone's (e.g. electronic music vs. instrumental athonality). So IMHO nothing can beat masterpieces like Red Deep, Phenomena or Suspiria, not even the Crystal Bird smile

Goblin took it to the next level. I do have to say I love their scores to the more fantastical Argento movies (Suspiria, Profondo Rosso) better than the more giallo themed (Profondo Rosso, Opera, Non Ho Sonno). Argento and Simonetti can do no wrong.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 3:39 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Morricone's giallo scores are among my favorites. I especially love hearing a fake rock tune or a breezy bossa sandwiched between two scary cues. Love Dario Argento.

 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 8:13 PM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

I do have to go into “Giallos” and the dissonant world they are a part of eventually but I kept putting it off. This is one area that Morricone pioneered and I can’t ignore it...
But I have long since stopped dismissing music with that label. As you may have heard on the MADDALENA and OCEANO soundtracks dissonance comes in all different varieties. Some may even object to that label on certain scores but it all follows simple rules.


Regarding musical timelines, it's about 100 years that aggressive, dissonant, and/or atonal music has been around since 12-tone techniques were formulated in Vienna, and Igor Stravinsky shocked the Parisian public with his "Rite Of Spring".

Yet, author Morricone has been hesitant about composer Morricone's dissonant music, almost as if these aspects of composition are still in some ways taboo, and author Morricone feels embarrassed to admit that composer Morricone sometimes 'misbehaves' like a 'naughty boy' regarding his ventures into atonality.

No doubt most of the human race still equates music with melody, and that music which is not melodious is some sort of ugly blemish to be apologized for.

I, for one, - (perhaps one of the very few?) - am in no way ashamed of atonal music, and, indeed, embrace such compositions. Atonality is my 'barometer' by which I assess the level of sophistication within a piece of music, and, by extrapolation, its composer's overall stylistic inclinations and modes of expressions.

I appreciate Morricone best when he is in avant-garde mode or dissonant mode. Morricone's GIALLO scores represent the apex of his achievements in film scoring, and this facet of Morricone should've been 1st place, not at 41st position. wink

A Morricone completist I am not; nevertheless, I blind purchase any soundtrack by Morricone for any sort of thriller or horror movie from the early 1970s. smile

I also wish to point out that Ennio Morricone was creating challenging abstract concert works prior to his first feature film score in 1961. Morricone completed his studies with Goffredo Pertrassi in 1954, and was part of the Darmstadt scene around 1958 listening to the music of Luigi Nono and the seminars of John Cage. Morricone's Concerto No.1 for Orchestra (1957) is one example of Morricone developing his musical identity and voice before ever becoming known for his pop arrangements and film scores...

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 8:25 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)



Morricone's GIALLO scores represent the apex of his achievements in film scoring, and this facet of Morricone should've been 1st place, not at 41st position. wink

A Morricone completist I am not; nevertheless, I blind purchase any soundtrack by Morricone for any sort of thriller or horror movie from the early 1970s. smile



I am with you 100% on both of the above sentiments.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 9:22 PM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

It's nice to have someone assume my motivations. As I have said before Morricone fans already know their likes and dislikes and have informed me in every way possible why my choices are incorrect or occasionally correct. How nice for all of you. But the ones I've tried to give a listen to Morricone for the first time have e-mailed and posted their dislike for the dissonant. So I've gone slow with that. Either way I'm going with MY preferences. It is how I discovered the world of Morricone and the only way I can share that journey is to relate it in the way I made it myself. If you want to join me fine. If you think I'm full of it that's fine too. Dissonance was never my favorite form so maybe I'm not your cup of tea at all. But I have come to appreciate it more and more, in context, and I need to relate that too. I have to keep chugging away the way that means something to me even if I insult Stravinsky. Sorry Igor.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 7, 2011 - 10:02 PM   
 By:   Doug Payne   (Member)

While Ennio Morricone was hardly the first to compose music for the Italian thrillers known as “giallo,” he certainly defined the sound and the feeling of the genre – starting with L’UCCELLO DALL PIUME DI CRISTALLO – and he scored more of the genre’s films than any other composer. It’s worth noting just SOME of the work he did in the genre. It’s ALL amazing:

- L’UCCELLO DALL PIUME DI CRISTALLO (aka THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE) (1970)
- LE FOTO PROIBITE DI UNA SIGNORA PER BENE (aka THE FORBIDDEN PHOTOS OF A LADY ABOVE SUSPICION) (1970)
- IL GATTO A NOVE CODE (aka THE CAT O’ NINE TAILS) (1971)
- UNA LUCERTOLA CON LA PELL DI DONNA (aka A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN) (1971)
- GLI OCCHI FREDDI DELLA PAURA (aka COLD EYES OF FEAR) (1971- performed magnificently with Morricone's Gruppo di Improvvisazione)
- LA TARANTOLA DAL VENTRE NERO (aka BLACK BELLY OF THE TARANTULA) (1971)
- GIORNATA NERE PER L’ARIETE (aka THE FIFTH CORD) (1971)
- LA CORTA NOTTE DELLE BAMBOLE DI VETRO (aka SHORT NIGHT OF GLASS DOLLS) (1971)
- MOSCHE DI VELLUTO GRIGIO (aka FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET) (1971)
- CHI L’HA VISTA MORIRE? (WHO SAW HER DIE?) (1972)
- MIO CARO ASSASSINO (MY DEAR KILLER) (1972)
- COSA AVETE FATTO A SOLANGE? (WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO SOLANGE?) (1972)
- IL DIAVOLO NEL CERVELLO (aka DEVIL IN THE BRAIN) (1972)
- SPASMO (1974)
- MACCHIE SOLARI (aka AUTOPSY) (1975)
- VIOLENZA SULL’ULTIMO TRENO DELLA NOTTE (aka NIGHT TRAIN MURDERS) (1975)
- COPKILLER (aka CORRUPT, ORDER OF DEATH) (1983)

There are probably others. But this is a fair listing of the avant jazz “trauma” cues Morricone mixes with breezy bossas and light pop to create one of the most chilling musical styles known to man. Try it. Put on any one of these soundtracks and see if it doesn’t freak everyone out. Beautiful, masterful and magestic music! The best in all the whole of Ennio Morricone's large and wonderful canon if you ask me.

 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2011 - 12:54 AM   
 By:   Loren   (Member)


I appreciate Morricone best when he is in avant-garde mode or dissonant mode. Morricone's GIALLO scores represent the apex of his achievements in film scoring, and this facet of Morricone should've been 1st place, not at 41st position. wink

A Morricone completist I am not; nevertheless, I blind purchase any soundtrack by Morricone for any sort of thriller or horror movie from the early 1970s. smile


I am not either, and yet you can find something complying with your (and mine of course) tastes in other Morricone's genres, like war-movies. For instance MUSSOLINI ULTIMO ATTO is noteworthy since (I quote from liner notes) balances "several atonal music passages made of harsh percussive orchestral passages and others, mysterious and almost minimalistic where electronic tonalities are mixed to represent all the scary atmosphere of those far dark days". A must-have.

 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2011 - 3:19 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

It is how I discovered the world of Morricone and the only way I can share that journey is to relate it in the way I made it myself.

I'm sure that's the way most people encounter the works of any composer - via their memorable themes. Thoroughly understandable.
There is no right or wrong approach here. It's not so much about being correct or incorrect (or full of it), but being comprehensive.
If one embarks on some sort of retrospective of a composer's works, I think it's only fair that all aspects of his music should get coverage. If dissonance comprises about 20% (and I'm just making up numbers here) of Morricone's output, then 1 out of every 5 titles in this series should reflect that aspect. It just seems a bit unbalanced if there's 39 melodic themes being placed ahead of the first entry with dissonance.

For instance, I'm a big follower of Piero Piccioni, but I do not collect all those Alberto Sordi comedies. If I were to do a series on Piccioni, I'd be obliged to address Piccioni's comedies due to their sheer volume within Piccioni's output.

I love "dramatic" Elmer Bernstein, but, again, do not collect his comedies.
Bernstein's MEN IN WAR is high on my list, but LOST IN YONKERS went into the rubbish heap! smile
We should acknowledge, though, the entire body of works by any composer, even if it incorporates facets we'd rather not listen to...

 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2011 - 3:24 AM   
 By:   ToneRow   (Member)

I am not either, and yet you can find something complying with your (and mine of course) tastes in other Morricone's genres, like war-movies. For instance MUSSOLINI ULTIMO ATTO is noteworthy since (I quote from liner notes) balances "several atonal music passages made of harsh percussive orchestral passages and others, mysterious and almost minimalistic where electronic tonalities are mixed to represent all the scary atmosphere of those far dark days". A must-have.

True.

There's other genres in which we can find 'dissonant' Morricone, not only in the giallos.
Recently, I've gotten THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN and FRAULEIN DOKTOR - both of which are not giallos but contain avant-garde writing.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 8, 2011 - 8:02 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

It is how I discovered the world of Morricone and the only way I can share that journey is to relate it in the way I made it myself.

I'm sure that's the way most people encounter the works of any composer - via their memorable themes. Thoroughly understandable.
There is no right or wrong approach here. It's not so much about being correct or incorrect (or full of it), but being comprehensive.
If one embarks on some sort of retrospective of a composer's works, I think it's only fair that all aspects of his music should get coverage. If dissonance comprises about 20% (and I'm just making up numbers here) of Morricone's output, then 1 out of every 5 titles in this series should reflect that aspect. It just seems a bit unbalanced if there's 39 melodic themes being placed ahead of the first entry with dissonance.

For instance, I'm a big follower of Piero Piccioni, but I do not collect all those Alberto Sordi comedies. If I were to do a series on Piccioni, I'd be obliged to address Piccioni's comedies due to their sheer volume within Piccioni's output.

I love "dramatic" Elmer Bernstein, but, again, do not collect his comedies.
Bernstein's MEN IN WAR is high on my list, but LOST IN YONKERS went into the rubbish heap! smile
We should acknowledge, though, the entire body of works by any composer, even if it incorporates facets we'd rather not listen to...


I think I have. I am only 1/12 into Morricone's cinematic work. And I consider OCEANO and MADDALENA dissonant. And, of course, dissonance has been sprinkled throughout the scores I've presented. I also have neglected lounge a bit. But this list is casual. Anyone who has read it must know it isn't in any order. I've praised stuff in the 30s more than a few things I had in the first ten. I'm trying to sell Morricone to those who haven't been exposed to his vast amount of European output. And I have to be realistic. If I was selling John Williams I wouldn't put WAR OF THE WORLDS, IMAGES, DADDY'S GONE A HUNTING, BLACK SUNDAY or THE SCREAMING WOMAN at the top of the list even though I really like those scores. This board is heavily melodic and it is natural I lean that way to gain an audience. So don't be surprised when I present AUTOPSY with a sample of the love theme.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2011 - 6:55 AM   
 By:   David Anthony   (Member)

Hi Henry

I have never been able to lay my hands on the Capital LP, were any or all of the tracks on this LP released on the most recent expanded Cinevox CD?
I did question this on the Morricone site but did not get a clear answer.

Cheers Dave

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 9, 2011 - 7:56 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Hi Henry

I have never been able to lay my hands on the Capital LP, were any or all of the tracks on this LP released on the most recent expanded Cinevox CD?
I did question this on the Morricone site but did not get a clear answer.

Cheers Dave


I haven't checked for awhile but everything seems to be the same. The very short LP, I believe, hasn't been released on CD and has slightly different orchestrations, the titles are all different and it includes the lounge piece twice.

 
 
 Posted:   Mar 10, 2011 - 10:21 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

One of my favorite Morricone scores and probably the best he did with Argento. I'm not that fond of his score for Phantom of the Opera (very traditional) but his haunting theme for "Stendhal Syndrome" is spot on and very creepy. For me Bird with the Crystal Plumage is the quintessential giallo score. Cat O' Nine Tails a great continuation.

That’s the type of guy Dario is, he looks like Roberto Benigni but with the heart of the Marquis DeSade.

Hmm... I think that's a harsh portrayal of Dario Argento, he's one of the kindest persons you could meet and a fan of cinema. Just because he isn't afraid to find art in violence, doesn't mean he's a pervert. The same can be said of a Paul Verhoeven or David Cronenberg.


I've met Dario and he is a pussycat. A real charmer. But like that "razor room" in SUSPIRIA he doesn't just portray sadism on film he goes way beyond logic in it's use. His fantasies go deep into the heart of darkness.

 
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