Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ennio Morricone

Listening to the collection of Ennio Morricone film scores, I felt a need to elaborate on what I consider to be the significance of his contribution to music.

Other than the comprehensive article in Wikipedia, all I could find was a review on a collection of tracks by Morricone which is a valuable source of information - The movie Navajo Joe soundtrack was written by Morricone under the pseudoname of Leo Nichols.

Although the series of spaghetti westerns were not the only outlet for Morricone, he scored more than 500 movies and television productions such as The Mission, The Untouchables,Cinema Paradiso and Lolita.
He was awarded an honorary Academy Award in 2007

In 1964 he began his famous collaboration with Sergio Leone and Bernardo Bertolucci. For Leone he wrote the score for A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964) and continued with a number of other Spaghetti Western films. By 1968 he was reducing his work outside of film and in the same year wrote twenty scores for films. His collaboration with Leone is considered one of the finest collaborations between a director and a composer. He scored all of Leone's films (known as the spaghetti westerns) including A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good,Bad and the Ugly and Once Upon a Time in the West.

Morricone's score of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), is his most famous. Along with the William Tell Overture from the Silent period and The Magnificent Seven by Elmer Bernstein, it is one of the most recognizable pieces associated with the Western genre.

The symphony orchestra has been the basis on movie scores until the development of the use of pop/rock tunes by directors has taken over.
Within the traditional framework of a symphony orchestra, Morricone introduced what would become his distinct sound, the electric guitar. Other sounds such as grunts, chants,harmonica, jews harp and whistling by Alessandro Alessandroni . You only have to listen to scores such as The Good the Bad and the Ugly.

One of his most hauntingly beautiful pieces of music is Chi Mai from Le Professionel movie.
There are many albums and compilations of Morricone's music. It is a good idea to get the original film scores because covers just don't capture the magic that is Morricone.

In the title Fistful of Dollars, the music begins with an acoustic guitar and a whistler, clackers are introduced and then a bell. The chorus joins with the words "we can fight" and then the electric guitar. Pure Morricone, pure genius.
In the movie Once Upon a Time in the West, the scene is a classic as much as the music itself. The Man with the Harmonica tune, the harmonica, lonely and strident breaks the silence. Strings follow with electric guitar. The mood is haunting, lonely and tension builds up to the main melody. Beautiful. If you haven't heard the original score then you're only hearing half of it.
Having listened to the dedication album titled We All Love Ennio Morricone, I can say you must stay away from this appalling piece of garbage. None of the artists seem to have grasped what is unique and wonderful about Morricone's music.
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Hammer said...

Those are some of my favorite films. I just bought the whole collection on DVD and was able to appreciate the scores with a more mature ear.

Lexcen said...

No doubt about it Hammer, you are a connoisseur.