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 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 9:28 AM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

In the readings I've done on the changes in film music that began to take shape in the 1950s and 60s with the introduction of jazz, rock, and pop, one thing I never come across is the attitudes of various people of the time towards these new styles of film music.

For those of you who experienced these changes first-hand, I wonder if you might share some of the general attitudes you remember people having at the time. What kind of people were opposed to it? What kind were in favor of it? What did you think of it? And did you find that these attitudes changed through the 50s and 60s?

I'm curious as to your thoughts...

 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 9:52 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

In the readings I've done on the changes in film music that began to take shape in the 1950s and 60s with the introduction of jazz, rock, and pop.

Twelve-tone music (following the patterns of Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and Sessions) was also increasingly used in Hollywood movies since the mid-1950s.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 10:07 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

Right off the top of my head I can think of three significant film-score composers in the jazz idiom in the 1950's - Kenyon Hopkins, Duke Ellington and Elmer Bernstein (gosh he was versatile). I think the music was often far better than the films themselves - for example, "Anatomy of a Murder" (Ellington). Bernstein's music for "Man With The Golden Arm" and "Sweet Smell of Success" are other examples, though parts of both films were very good. But these were films about the underbelly of the city - an extension of noir for the post-war 'beat generation', if you will. Then Bernstein's score for "Some Came Running"; itself quite distinct and influenced - to my mind at least - by Stravinsky, in it's use of complex cross-rhythms (thematic tropes for the film).

These were considered to be somewhat sophisticated composers for a (generally) sophisticated kind of film - in many ways more "European" than mainstream American cinema. Remember that in "Anatomy of a Murder" the key protagonist (James Stewart) is interested in jazz music and is seen at the piano improvising some musical passages. The suggestion seemed to be that he also 'improvised' in the court-room and that the 'theatre' of the court also plays with people's lives.

These films have stood up fairly well today, not just because of their uncompromising music but also because they re-cast the urban (in particular) narrative away from physical violence toward the psychological aspects of criminal and immoral behaviour. There HAD to be a different kind of music to accommodate this aesthetic.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 10:07 AM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

In the readings I've done on the changes in film music that began to take shape in the 1950s and 60s with the introduction of jazz, rock, and pop.

Twelve-tone music (following the patterns of Berg, Schoenberg, Webern and Sessions) was also increasingly used in Hollywood movies since the mid-1950s.


Of course. I guess I'm thinking more of the popular styles as their presence has grown exponentially since their introduction. But if you have something to share about these more modernist styles, please do. All thoughts are welcome.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 10:09 AM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

I've often thought about that myself - what film fans and general music-lovers thought of the changes taking place at the time. I'm actually a shade too young (never thought I'd say that) to give a first-hand account of the era you want, Ludwig. The first film music books which I bought in the early '70s (by Irwin Bazelon, Tony Thomas and Mark Evans) were generally caustic towards the influence of songs after THE GRADUATE and the increasing use of pop/ funk post-SHAFT, and in the interviews with the old-school of composers they also expressed their dislike of those changes. But they had all by then assimilated (and some even used) the kind of progressive/ jazz leanings which appeared in the '50s in the scores of North, Rosenman etc, so maybe by the time the articles and interviews were published, they were just stuck in their ways. So you need to go back further.

I have actually come across old articles written in the '40s by composers such as Marlin Skiles, speaking about how important the "arrangement" of the music is, apart from the actual composing. There must be loads of stuff out there which I just haven't come across yet.

But I feel that even that is not exactly what you're looking for. I seem to recall my grandmother (who loved THE SOUND OF MUSIC), saying "What horrible music!" when THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM came on the telly, if that's worth anything.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 10:30 AM   
 By:   dan the man   (Member)

TO- GRAHAM- S WATT- Glad you mentioned about your grandmother there. I have always found it refreshing and enlightening to hear other people of intelligence offer comments on things in a field that they to a certain extent do know something about. at least in a general manner of sought. It should if we are open minded enough to make us a bit humble. when it comes to critical comments on creative ventures[music movies, the art world books etc etc] We may too often strike back at that person for being too extreme on their viewpoints as a way to mute his or her's free speech or subtle wisdom on something that we ourselves might not observe or be weak on.I am sure we all had experiences like your grandmother. Watching the awards in 73 one night where ARETHA FRANKLIN was singing 3 members of the group I was with said in verbal manner they didn't like ARETHA'S music. these 3 people all had or have their share of musical knowledge over the years from big band , 40's pop progressive rock [late 60's] etc etc. I didn't agree with their comments but I also respected their viewpoints. It made me hunble to realize TO EACH ONE'S OWN.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 2:28 PM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I'd almost forgotten the failed 1960 musical, which was congruent with the newer idiom in film music, "The Subterraneans" - produced by the Arthur Freed Unit at MGM. Has anybody seen that musical?

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 14, 2013 - 4:33 PM   
 By:   Ludwig van   (Member)

Regie - yes, I agree that the new psychological focus of film certainly contributed to the impetus for new styles of film music. The 1950 boundary is a bit artificial (as with most classifications) because that kind of seedy urban setting of course had its root in film noir of the 40s and its tendency toward a more gritty, urban, and hence jazzy, type of music. Though no score was fully jazz until STREETCAR, there is more of a progression, but still, I am interested in what people thought of this business of scoring music in different ways. Like the whole Zimmer debate going on once again over in the other thread - clearly, we have supporters and naysayers. I just wonder what it was like when other new styles entered the picture back then.

Graham - that's a great idea. Thanks for directing me to those sources. But yes, with your grandma, that's that kind of thing I'm after. Just more anecdotal things that people remember, either from others or what they themselves thought.

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 3:29 AM   
 By:   Regie   (Member)

I was still very young in the 1950's - too young for the kind of films I now appreciate, by far!! But I do remember my mother very much liking the jazzier film scores and so did some of her friends (some of whom were musicians). My mother had a Licenciate in Piano when she was only 17 and her brother played the violin - both of them were avid film-lovers and were excited about something different in the musical landscape with regard to film. Many of their friends were well-educated professionals who also appreciated these films and they would sometimes discuss these with me a little later in the 60's when I was a teenager. My uncle was a sophisticated film buff and he really appreciated innovation in film, as well as the more traditional fare like Max Steiner, Hugo Friedhofer etc. But his favourite film composer was Eric Wolfgang Korngold, whose praises he sang until quite recently when he died.

I think it's a question of being receptive to new things and open to change and innovation. After the second world war everything was changed forever and we could not expect "It's a Wonderful Life" to be sustained. Anthony Mann, in those gritty westerns of his, started the great period of 'revisionism' with regard to the western. And the studios were forced to do something different because of television.

 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 4:31 AM   
 By:   OnlyGoodMusic   (Member)

Of course. I guess I'm thinking more of the popular styles as their presence has grown exponentially since their introduction. But if you have something to share about these more modernist styles, please do. All thoughts are welcome.

Well, Leonard Rosenman's score for THE COBWEB is widely credited as having been the first mainstream Hollywood film (MGM) with a predominantly twelve-tone score. There had been some polytonal scores before, but for fringe productions like C-MEN, or cartoons like GERALD McBOING-BOING, both by Gail Kubik. Rosenman of course used jazz elements in his REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE.

Rock music, as far as background scores are concerned, didn't feature prominently until, AFAIR, the biker movies of the 1960s, but I might remember wrongly. In most earlier productions (Don't Knock the Rock etc) there was no "dramatic rock music" as such, but merely musical numbers played "live" (also in the "Beach Party" series of films).

 
 
 Posted:   Jul 15, 2013 - 7:21 AM   
 By:   Graham S. Watt   (Member)

Not exactly what Ludwig is looking for, but I found the Marlin Skiles article, written in the 1940s, at the ASMAC site - which was so fascinanting that I started a whole new thread about it!

 
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