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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Film Music: "Real" Music?

I've been reflecting on the whole conversation about whether movie music is "real" music (as opposed, I suppose, to "just reel music"). I'm sure both Tosy and Jaquandor have weighed in on this, but I'm too lazy to check where.

In any case, I started thinking about this when I went to the Albany Symphony back on March 25. I was supposed to go with my wife, but she was still suffering the effects of oral surgery. so I ended up going with my father-in-law to this American music series concert. The first half was contemporary composers, and the second was listed as by Hermann. I thought, "Hmm, I don't know an American composer named Hermann." Then I read the notes: oh, BERNARD Hermann, the composer for movies. I too was biased about thinking of a composer for movies as a composer.

The performance, mostly of music written prior to his movie career, was wonderfully lush. The concert ended with the overture for one of the movies he scored, North by Northwest. It stood up well without the visuals of the movie. Here's the article Hidden Herrmann: ASO resurrects movie music master's works from obscurity from the local paper.

Somehow, this got me to start thinking about Elmer Bernstein. I've long been aware of how effective his "serious" music is, never put to better effect, I think, than in "Animal House". If it weren't for wonderful juxtaposition of his artistry with the hijinks of the characters, I don't think the movie would not be nearly as funny. Likewise, his music for Airplane! lends a mock seriousness to the proceedings, one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Separate from the films, though, and it works as well as fine listening. Next time you watch either one or any of the other comedies he's scored, listen for the "background music" as music.

I note this today because would have been Elmer Bernstein's 85th birthday; he died back in 2004. I think it's too bad I can't separate his, well, magnificent theme for the Magnificent Seven from the tune's use as a Marlboro commercial, something I can still hear and see in my head, even though President Nixon signed legislation banning TV and radio ads back in April 1970, effective January 1971.
***
MLK, Jr. was assassinated 39 years ago today. Since he was 39 when he died, that was now nearly a whole (short) lifetime ago.

3 comments:

Scott said...

The last verse of "Pride (In the Name of Love)" by U2 always comes to mind on this day.

Anonymous said...

Please note: this is National Public Health Week!!!!

A reader pointed out that on April 4, 1964, the Beatles held all five of the top five slots on the Billboard Top 100 chart. That feat had never been done before and has never been matched since. Bonnie was also aware of how obsessive I am about folks knowing their numbers.
Which of course reminds me, do you know what your blood pressure is. In case you don't know what the five songs were, I will list them below.
Your blood pressure numbers will require a bit of effort. Although opportunities abound you may wish to check to see if those automatic machines have been calibrated.

So here are the Beatles Best as of 4/4/'64...
1.) Can't Buy Me Love
2.) Twist and Shout
3.) She Loves You
4.) I Want to Hold Your Hand
5.) Please Please Me

"Life is like a cob web, not an organization chart." -H. Ross Perot

"How monotonous the sounds of the forest would be if the music came only from the Top Ten birds." -Dan Bennett

"There are two means of refuge from the misery of life -- music and cats."
-Albert Schweitzer

"My personal hobbies are reading, listening to music, and silence."
-Edith
Sitwell

"One is hardly sensible of fatigue while he marches to music." -Thomas Carlyle

"April prepares her green traffic light, and the world thinks GO!"
-Christopher Morley

"When I go to the beauty parlor, I always use the emergency entrance.
Sometimes I just go for the estimate." -Phyllis Diller

"Humor is by far the most significant activity of the human brain."
-Edward
De Bono


And now a word from our sponsor, as I have stated, this is National Public Health Week and the theme is preparedness. Today you could put that theme into practice by checking out your employer's policy regarding emergencies.


"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." -Benjamin Franklin

"First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst." -Dale Carnegie

"First, I prepare. Then I have faith." -Joe Namath

"I will prepare and some day my chance will come." -Abraham Lincoln

"If you are prepared, you will be confident, and will do the job." -Tom Landry

Roger Green said...

And do you WHY they held the Top 5 slots? Because they were first in the US, they were on minor labels that couldn't promote them properly.
When they were successful in the US, the minor labels re-released what they had the rights to. So those songs were on:
1) Capitol
2) Vee-Jay
3) Swan
4) Capitol
5) Vee-Jay
This is not to minimize the accomplishment, just to note that it'll almost certainly never happen again.