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albums08

Barry's stylistic journey from the 60s to the 90s

A study in contrast: Barry's stylistic journey from the 60s to the 90s

Terry Walstrom

John Barry has four distinct styles of music composition. Three of them he has virtually discarded and only one remains. I propose to take a look at these stylistic personas and comment on the whys and the wherefores which have led to his present day one-size-fits-all approach to film-scoring.

In the 50s something unique was happening to popular music in the world at large; particularly in the United States and in England. The 40's war years drew the populations of those countries closer to the technology of radio more than ever before. Big Bands and news broadcasts force-fed a unified style of music on what had previously been very different national sensibilities.

Movie attendance and the escapism of fantasy on screen allowed a pressure release on people stressed to the breaking point with bloody realities of everyday privation and danger. With the World War over and a new decade underway the radio remained an indispensable melting pot of international music exposure which unified populations in their tastes and commonalties. Movies provided the same unifying icons and background scores permeated subconscious vaults with 19th century Romanticism. Television was taking a foothold that would strangle the competing technologies.

If radio and movies were to avoid being relegated to the heap of dinosaur bones in the graveyard of pass‚ artefacts---there would have to be a massive RETHINK to grapple with a workable strategy.

YOUTH culture was the key. Radio and the movies turned to the younger audiences and tapped into the red-blooded vein of youth music. The young are the audience of the future, as a rule. But, parents were giving their kids allowances now and a consumer population was arriving on the scene. Young people had jobs and responsibilities and cash to spend.

The music world was poised on the brink of something big which was about to happen.

[John Barry 7 on Drumbeat]John Barry's SEVEN were panning for gold in the old streams and rivers where others had made their fortunes. But, the leftovers were not enough to sustain a career. The bulk of the fortunes had vanished. Barry struggled to find a template into which he could pour his talents for music-making. Doing "covers" of Stateside hits for English audiences was stale now - yet, it was a learning mode for record production and important business contacts.

Big Bands were taxed into disintegration. A club owner could ill-afford large bands with many hands out for dough. The only solution was the "single" act. Preferably singer-songwriters who could do it all. Thus the folksinger era replaced the Big Band era. And the folksinger was the grandparent of the Rock n Roller of the near to arrive future.

Barry straddled all venues like a modern day Colossus. He wrote, arranged, produced and played in first one and then another genres. None, however, was innovative in a way that would ignite popular enthusiasms and generate a career. He was relegated to a producing role for others eventually, leaving the JB7 to fend for themselves in a dying genre. There were only two choices: find a "star" to produce for and earn a living as a man behind the man; or--emerge as a composer in his own right. The odds against the latter were astronomical. With the "discovery" of Adam Faith Barry was suitably nested in a temporarily secure niche which allowed him to meet the "right" people and become a mover and shaker.

Had movies not come along to tempt him away--surely Barry would have remained a producer of first one group and then another along the lines of a Berry Gordy of MOTOWN.

Beat GirlWith the opportunity of scoring BEAT GIRL suddenly Barry's stylistic persona was glimpsed in the raw. We will call this STYLE ONE. The Beat Girl score could have been done by an old school gentleman aping a popular style little understood and mostly scorned. Or it could have been injected with needle-dropping opportunities utilising hit songs of the era. Instead--a very youthful composer, arranger, conductor producer and maven of ALL STYLES had a go at it. Beat Girl is nothing if not original. It sounds--even today--original.

The components of the music are familiar. Guitars are played and a big-bandish backing chimes in. Percussion is not sedate--yet not overtly Rock. What sets Barry's composition apart is the identifying use of a rhythmic device he has never abandoned. It is a choppy beguine-like rhythm that enforces the dotted quarter notes (two of them) and gives us 2 chopping beats and 1 remaining lesser one. This 3 beats to the measure is definitely NOT a waltz but a catchy jerking motion that allows the next device--the ostinato--to fit into the gaps left by the sparse rhythm. These are like puzzle pieces-hand in glove. There is a sense of movement and an inexorable forward motion and incessant and insistent activity. Atop these two devices floats the hooky melodic line. It is not complicated. It is brief and readily identifiable. This simple recipe comes across very easily to the ears. It is closer to Stan Kenton than to Max Steiner--but not derivative of either. It has a 50s Rock 'n' Roll snarl to the instrumentation but it is not Rock. It definitely owes more to Jazz than anything else--yet, it is not merely Streetcar Named Desire ala North (one of Barry's heroes.) No--we have a full-fledged mosaic of stylisms pressed into a new service, a new voice and a new youthful vigour. It is Scarlett O'Hara turning the drapes from Tara into a lovely dress to impress Rhett Butler! Barry is the seamstress and designer rolled into one. He has CUSTOM-FITTED what the quires using anything that will fit. This style will return again and again. Barry visits the junkyard of previous eras and idioms and grabs a piece of this and a part of that and - Presto! - Picasso-like welds them into artistic sculpture than is no longer junk but a work of art. BEAT GIRL is a new kind of junk---fabulous artistic junk!

With the success of Beat Girl as a scoring assignment Barry became "hot" and was impressed into service to fix another project in music need. James Bond needed a musical fix to make him relevant. Barry was handed more junk and he went into his laboratory and started hammering, welding and filing away. The result was something astonishingly NEW! Yet--Tailor-like--it was a perfect fit. Bond had a Saville Row suit and the music was as tailored as that to his persona. The James Bond Theme is an amalgam. It has Dizzy Gillespie scat choruses, Les Paul/Duane Eddy guitar idioms, it has Minnie the Moocher razzmatazz brass writing and a harking back to the Big Band Era with expostulations that punctuate the segues from the middle eight back to the main theme. It is tailoring of the highest order. It is arranging genius. It is fresh and endlessly interesting. Barry has invented something new out of something pre-existing. This is what an artist does best. Suddenly Barry's career as a movie composer is assured. The usual fate of one such as he is to do variations on James Bond until the offers stop coming. Yet--two things happened to side-step this fate. Barry was offered arthouse melodramas by Bryan Forbes at the same time he was covering the spy genre.

STYLE TWO

[Bryan Forbes, Renata Tarrago, John Barry - Deadfall]For Bryan Forbes, Barry would cism. Using small combinations of evocative instruments Barry would achieve atmospheres as delicate as miniature impressionist paintings. These chamber music effects were not actually chamber music. Once again they would be amalgams; puzzle fittings of first this and then that. Jazz flavoured flutes and bass lines would be overlaid with harpsichord tinklings or violin obbligatos. The end result being more tailor-made backdrops highly evocative of the right mood and the right emotion. SEANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON is all mood and is achieved using very few instruments. The melody wants to find a key but is ill-fitted to tonality--yet, there is a melody lurking there.

The main character is a fraud psychic who fools even herself at times and longs to be recognised as an important person. The music and the character are one and the same.

STYLE THREE

[Terry Walstrom getting albums signed by JB]Barry evolves a Romanticism that is sturdy and muscular rather than cloying and fey. His strings are always pure and in easy registers. The countermelodies are harmonically simple but gorgeously beautiful. The Horns infuse the emotional content with full-blooded vigour and strength of purpose. The melodies are usually cast as straight ahead "song" tunes which you end up whistling in your sleep. Yet--his chord changes can suddenly startle you with unexpected twists and turns that chromatically complicate the underlying feeling of inevitability. In fact--you can count on the fact that Barry will create a superstructure of unusual chords that will take you outside the usual pathways into exotic territories. Midnight Cowboy has a simple theme. Yet--those chord changes are not customary.

Midnight Cowboy is a good example for us to examine. Barry creates a clockwork mechanism of inevitability in the opening falling melodic background of four notes followed by four notes --over and over again. Many of Barry's arrangements will do something similar. He lulls your sense of expectancy into a regularity of singsong familiarity. Once you are introduced to the "environment" of the piece then the main melody is injected. It works in contrast to that background and fits perfectly like a Russian Kachina doll nested within another doll within yet another.

[Sid Margo, John Barry]In THE IPCRESS FILE we have a jaunty rhythmic line of punctuated flutes and vibraphone that is overlaid with the Cimbalom melody. It is all very jagged and textured but is catchy as hell! QUILLER MEMORANDUM has hurdy gurdy rhythmic line over which the flexitone melody is laid to startling effect. Here is a lovely songleider melody set to a weird background of exoticism and intrigue. So in each instance the idea is to put simplicity to work by overlaying it with yet another simplicity dressed up in an exotic garb of orchestration. Barry's orchestration SOUND complex--yet you never lose your way. It is rather more like watching a juggler add yet another ball to those already in the air! Bach-like effects are achieved without the audience having to resort to internal intellectualities to sort the parts from one another. This is an enormous achievement and singular to Barry himself. Nobody else comes close to doing this.

STYLE FOUR

[John Barry at the moviola]We'll call this simply JAZZ. Barry has his own brand of Jazz. It is not like anybody else in its entirety--yet, it never grabs you with a feeling of innovation for innovations sake.

" again the way a mechanic does. He fits them in. The background may "feel" like a jazz improvisation in the piano and the sax may sound like an improvisation in the melody---but--there is a fixed architecture of melody in the strings and horns that is flat-out Dance band slow-dance. Barry has sleek and sensuous Jazz pieces in his repertoire. They can be big and audacious such as the quintessential MR. KISS KISS BANG BANG or they can be subtle and lush such as FUN CITY. Yet they are never ordinary. The difference between a regular jazz band performance and what Barry achieves lies in the fact that the improvisations are merely colorations and commentary. They are not THE raison d'etre of the composition. They owe more to Gershwin's Porgy and Bess than to Paul Whiteman or Duke Ellington. Barry's jazz are masterpieces of journeyman compositional/arranging skills.

Many of Barry's best Bond scores rely on this Jazz flavouring couple with his Romanticism and occasional eclecticism. His bag of tricks in the 60's was very large and often surprising.

Yet--in the 90's he has discarded most of his stylistic innovations and inventions. His approach has become one of pure music for music's sake. It is more of a religious philosophy. Barry's music is now ZEN. It is HAIKU. It is discipline and feeling and the tailoring is out of the same bolt of cloth again and again.

Those who only know Barry from Out of Africa and Dances with Wolves think this is all Barry can do or will ever do. "They all sound the same" is the mantra of the neophyte listener who is just discovering what Barry has to offer. I feel that John Barry is a person who has used his musical gifts to vicariously express the deepest possible feelings in his stiff-upper lip English soul. He has done a massive Freudian bit of therapy on himself along the way. By mining the depths of heartbreak, sexuality, fear and heroics his music has served two purposes; one for the moviegoer and one for Barry himself. At some point along the way the demon was exorcised and Barry became at peace with himself. Whatever muse/demon was tormenting his creative soul became exorcised and only once facet of his nature remains to be plumbed for treasure. That is the Romantic side. Again and again Barry tours the gentle and heroic in himself and demonstrates it romantically. He is relaxed about life. He accepts it. His music is-- gentle it is accepting. He eschews the action adventure vehicle. Been there/done that. There is nothing more for him to say about those emotions. The beauty of life and joy of feeling Life is what remains. While those of us who have accompanied John Barry on his musical journey may long for the wondrous times of innovations and exoticism of the past-- we have learned to savour the multifarious flavours of his vineyard of today. John Barry still vints a heady brew!

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PIA website

Have a look at our old "Play It Again" label website here.

Play It Again Records CD catalogue offered the discerning listener a wide choice of digitally re-mastered recordings from film and television, and rare collections of work from the likes of Don Black and Ron Grainer.

Contact the JB site

If you wish to send an email, for example with content for the website, please contact Geoff Leonard:

Email
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Location
Bristol, UK

Geoff (owner) and Ruud (webmaster) have been running the John Barry website since June 18, 2001.

This website is not endorsed by the composer's family.
Use of copyrighted materials and logos are for promotional purposes only.

All files on this website are for personal use only and cannot be bought or sold.

 

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John Barry related Events or Concerts


Submit your Event or Concert, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. We will not be responsible for any errors or inaccuracies.


 The Music of Bond RPO 11 April 2017

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra presents
The Music of Bond
Tuesday 11 April 2017
Doors: 6:45pm
Starts: 7:30pm

Website

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra returns to London’s Royal Albert Hall to perform The Music of Bond, following its sensational sell-out performance in October 2015.

Presented by A View to a Kill’s ‘Bond girl’ Fiona Fullerton, we celebrate over fifty years of timeless James Bond theme songs with hits from Goldfinger, Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Spectre and many more, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Simon Bowman.

Gareth Hudson conductor
Alison Jiear vocalist
Simon Bowman vocalist
Fiona Fullerton presenter

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra


Sheffield City Hall
Irwin Mitchell Oval Hall
James Bond: The Music of 007

from £22.50

Booking Fees May Apply
Friday, 30 Jun 2017
Start Time: 19:30
Doors Open: 19:00

Website

The music that capture a world of pulse-pumping action, glamorous femmes fatales, villainous arch enemies and, of course, unforgettable tunes. With roaring brass, lush orchestrations and sensuous songs, these movies have produced hit after hit all over the world. The list of credits includes the thrumming James Bond theme itself, 'Diamonds are Forever', 'Moonraker', 'Thunderball', 'From Russia with Love', 'Goldfinger', 'For Your Eyes Only', 'Skyfall' and many more.

Smooth as a vodka martini, elegant as a tuxedo and cool as a cucumber sandwich, Stephen Bell, the Hallé's suave, sophisticated maestro leads the world-renowned Hallé Orchestra as they celebrate the ultimate British hero – James Bond. Immerse yourself in the spine-tingling sounds that gave musical voice to the films in catchy title sequences and haunting songs performed here by star vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

An evening packed with some of cinema's most iconic themes, come dressed as your favourite Bond character, knock back a Vodka Martini and be prepared to be shaken and stirred!

Tickets for The Music of James Bond with The Hallé' (subject to booking fees) at Sheffield City Hall are available online at www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk through the ticket hotline on 0114 2 789 789 and in person at the Sheffield City Hall Box Office.


A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!

http://www.moviesinconcert.nl/index.php?page=concertlist


31 Mar 2017

   Germany   Nürnberg A Night with James Bond (Jagd auf James Bond)

31 Mar 2017

 31 Mar 2017  USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond
01 Apr 2017  USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond

01 Apr 2017

   Germany   Stuttgart A Night with James Bond (Jagd auf James Bond)

02 Apr 2017

   USA Texas Fort Worth 007: The Music of James Bond

 02 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   Leeds

Shaken & Stirred: The Music of James Bond

Shaken & Stirred: The Music of James Bond

02 April 2017

Tickets: £30, £27, £24, £19, £14, £10 (discounts available).

Website

Featuring Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever and Skyfall.

Leeds Town Hall

Concert begins at 4pm

Orchestra of Opera North
Gareth Hudson - conductor
Mary Carewe - voice
Simon Bowman - voice

The ultimate Bond concert with excerpts from all 24 films from Dr No to Spectre. With classic songs made famous by great artists such as Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones, Matt Monro, Paul McCartney, Duran Duran, Tina Turner, Adele, Sam Smith and more, this evening is dedicated to the world’s most famous spy.

Led by Gareth Hudson and joined by two of the leading vocal artists of the Bond repertoire, Mary Carewe and Simon Bowman, from the moment the Orchestra of Opera North strike up the iconic James Bond Theme you will realise that Nobody does it better as you’re immersed in an evening of classic Bond music which will leave you shaken AND stirred. 

Channel your inner spy or become a Bond-girl for the evening as we encourage bookers to dress to impress.

Norman/Raine - James Bond theme
Barry/Raine - Thunderball
Barry/Raine - Goldfinger
Barry/Raine - You only live twice
Barry/Raine - From Russia With Love: Title Song
Barry/Raine - Moonraker
Barry/Raine - Diamonds Are Forever
David & Bacharach/Raine - Casino Royale
Hamlisch/Raine - The Spy Who Loved Me: Nobody Does It Better
Barry/Raine - The Man With The Golden Gun: Title Song
Barry/Raine - On Her Majesty's Secret Service: We Have All The Time In The World
Barry/Raine - Suite: A View to a Kill
Walden & Cohen/Raine Licence to Kill: Title Song

Interval

Barry/Raine - A View to a Kill
Conti/Raine - For Your Eyes Only
Barry/Raine - Octopussy: All Time High
Barry & Waaktaar/Raine - The Living Daylights: Title Song
Bono & The Edge/Raine - Goldeneye
Arnold & Black/Raine - Tomorrow Never Dies: Surrender
Arnold - Die Another Day: Welcome to Cuba
Arnold & Black/Raine -The World Is Not Enough: Title Song
Cornell & Arnold/Raine Casino Royale: You Know My Name
White/Raine Quantum Of Solace: Another Way To Die
McCartney/Raine - Live And Let Die: Title Song
Atkins & Epworth/Raine - Skyfall
Smith/Raine - Spectre: Writing’s on the Wall


 08 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   Belfast Goldfinger! The Best of James Bond

08 April 2017
Belfast
(United Kingdom)         
Goldfinger! The Best of James Bond
Ulster Orchestra conducted by Stephen Bell - Ulster Hall

Website

Program Info:
An explosive evening of the very best themes from the James Bond series. Stephen Bell will be the man with the golden baton, leading the Ulster Orchestra through classics from across the decades, from early films such as Goldfinger, right through to the present day and hits such as the Oscar-winning theme to Skyfall. Favourites such as Live and Let Die, Diamonds are Forever and Licence to Kill will leave you shaken and stirred at this fabulous concert!


External links:
Details & tickets


 11 Apr 2017

   United Kingdom   London The Music of Bond

13 Apr 2017

13 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007
14 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007
15 Apr 2017  USA Mississippi Kansas City Bond and beyond: 50 years of 007

  30 Jun 2017

   United Kingdom   Sheffield James Bond: The Music of 007

*

James Bond Spectacular
August 18, 2017
Time: 19:30

The Harlington Theatre
236 Fleet Road
Fleet
Hants
GU51 4BY

Website

Back by popular demand, popular Q The Music Show is coming back to The Harlington, Fleet bringing their fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert. This show has been a huge success at other theatres with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.

Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies, you can hear the greats like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Thunderball, Live And Let Die, Goldeneye and Licence To Kill amongst all the others. With top musicians, dancers, and an informative and highly amusing compere, this show as everything you could want for a fabulous night out – and one that you will be talking about for years to come.

Formed in 2004, Q The Music Show have established a worldwide reputation for their authentic covers, orchestral sound and fabulous hair-raising vocalists. The show has been popular abroad at events in Monte Carlo, Germany, Italy, Guernsey, Prague and many others.

Don’t miss this superb evening as…Nobody Does It Better!


*

James Bond Spectacular
August 20, 2017
Time: 19:30

Buxton Opera House,
Water Street
Buxton
Derbyshire SK17 6XN

Website

The popular Q The Music Show brings its James Bond Concert Spectacular to Buxton Opera House. The 13-piece band will be bringing the fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert. This show has been a huge success all around the world with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.

Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies, you can hear the greats like Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Skyfall, Thunderball, Live And Let Die, Goldeneye and Licence To Kill amongst all the others. With top musicians and an informative and highly amusing compere, this show as everything you could want for a fabulous night out – and one that you will be talking about for years to come.

Formed in 2004, Q The Music Show have established a worldwide reputation for their authentic covers, orchestral sound and fabulous hair-raising vocalists. The show has been popular abroad at events in Monte Carlo, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Guernsey, Prague and many others.


19 Nov 2017

   Canada   Thunder Bay Shaken Not Stirred – The Music of James Bond

*

James Bond Spectacular
December 1, 2017
Time: 19:30

Camberley Theatre,
Knoll Road,
Camberley,
Surrey, GU15 3SY,
GB

Website

The popular James Bond Concert Spectacular by Q The Music Show is coming to Camberley Theatre. They will be bringing the fabulous and iconic music of James Bond to you in a stunning concert.  This show has been a huge success all around the World with its energetic and exciting performance by some of the UK’s leading musicians.
 
Featuring all the songs from the 007 movies...