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albums08

"Action" music--the evolution

By Terry walstrom
12 November 2003

In the history of dramatic presentation, the spoken word has reigned supreme until fairly recent times. With the advent of miraculous technology for throwing images up on a large panoramic screen and the infusion of vast surrounds of ambient atmospherics a gradual shift in emphasis has evolved.

Music and pure visual action has all but replaced the spoken word and even in some respects the plot! At first music was the "verb" that connected the visual subject to the object of desire.

Activity onscreen was synonymous with activity in the orchestra pit. So potent and moving was this device that more and more sonic layers have been added over the years in multifarious incarnations. Clever composers developed an approach which seemed a best fit for the marrying of onscreen activity with their musical creations.

Roughly these schemes and strategies fall into the following categories:  

  1. The rhythm carries the pulse with various percussion colors. An ostinato can simply repeat a comprehensible pattern or the pattern can vary unpredictably.
  2. Brass chords and low strings. Sometimes woodwinds add a touch of variety.
  3. Slashing chords played tutti.
  4. Synth drones and bouncy wouncy electronic voices.
  5. Slow scales and sinister minor chords going "against" the action on screen.
  6. A bit of each of the above.

In the old days a guy like Tiomkin would use the entire orchestra in a fugue with parts carefully timed to ape (or Mickey Mouse) the action with a sound to match each action flourish.

Bernard Herrmann would repeat a small phrase modulating downscale with large or small choirs of instrumental colors. Or, he'd expostulate brazenly with large percussion canons and flourishing brass stings.

Elmer Bernstein would take 9/8 triplet-like rhythms and break them up in the lower section and let the horns and brass wail on top while the piano gave colorful obbligato decorations in the middle.

John Barry would divide eighth notes into 3-3-2 and alternate chromatic chords atop in a lurching rhythm while a definite memorable melodic phrase floated above.

Lalo Schifrin would take a West Coast Jazz instrument group and add ad lib Tabla drums, stream of consciousness flute and afro-cuban melody fragments.

Jerry Goldsmith would divide the rhythms into cells of uneven groups of beats, blend short motives of melody with electronic amplifications and batteries of percussion colors interspersed with huge blocks of heavy brass, glissandos and varied woodwind combinations.

Henry Mancini would take bass flute, low woodwinds, divided strings and agitato celli up a slow chromatic scale in half-tones with increasing dynamics.

Miklos Rozsa would build grand architectural choirs of instrument groups in a statement of theme and antiphonal "answer" of theme around vigorous brass configurations as counterpoints and obbligatos colored the dynamics.

And then.............

Contemporary composers appeared. A new kind of action music was born. Melody vanished. Themes were banal or mere accidental motives tossed up by chord changes. Augmentation of acoustic orchestra with heavy batteries of keyboard synths mirrored onscreen action and "punched up" whatever appeared.

Slow builds of walls of sonic amplification became a muscular wallpaper as stings of sampled sounds slashed through the heavy soup with chalk-on-the-blackboard psychology.

You could transplant this "action" music from film to film and hardly recognize any switch had taken place.

Ah, Brave new world.

T.

Read 30093 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 14:54
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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:

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Location
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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.


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


 

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.


The Best of John Barry: Bond and Beyond
Thursday 16 Nov 2017
7:30pm
Royal Festival Hall,
Address: Belvedere Road,
London, SE1 8XX

Nicholas Dodd conductor

Barry Goldfinger (1964)
Barry Main Theme, Zulu
Barry On her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) We Have All the Time in the World
Barry Somewhere in Time
Barry Moviola
Barry The Persuaders
Barry Mary, Queen of Scots
Barry Midnight Cowboy
Barry Suite, Dances with Wolves

--interval--

Barry Born Free
Barry All Time High, Octopussy (1983)
Barry Theme, Out of Africa (1985)
Barry Body Heat
Barry Chaplin
Barry Space March (Capsule in Space), You Only Live Twice
Barry The Knack
Barry Suite, James Bond

Legendary Hollywood composer John Barry won five Oscars throughout a career creating some of the most memorable music in the history of cinema. Enjoy an evening of his greatest hits – Bond themes from Goldfinger to We Have All the Time in the World, music from Zulu, Midnight Cowboy, Dances with Wolves and more.


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...


 

Wiener Konzerthaus
Lothringerstraße 20, 1030 WIEN
(that's Vienna!)

Samstag 2 Dezember 2017
19:30 Uhr
Großer Saal

Sonntag 3 Dezember 2017
19:30 Uhr
Großer Saal

Dieses Galakonzert lässt 53 Jahre Bond-Movies live und auf großer Kinoleinwand Revue passieren. Von John Barrys «Goldfinger», «Thunderball» und «Diamonds Are Forever» über «Licence To Kill», «A View To A Kill» und «Goldeneye» bis hin zu «Skyfall» und dem Song des bislang letzten Bond-Streifens, «Writings On The Wall». Spezielle Arrangements für großes Symphonieorchester garantieren neben den Star-Interpreten einen unvergesslichen Abend.

Am 2. und 3. Dezember 2017 werden die legendären Songs und Scores aus den Bond-Movies von den Star-Interpreten Maya Hakvoort, Nazide Aylin und Sandra Pires im Wiener Konzerthaus präsentiert. Dabei werden sie von einem großen Symphonieorchester, ergänzt durch Top-Instrumentalsolisten für den speziellen Bond-Sound, begleitet, während die berühmten Filmszenen auf eine Leinwand projiziert werden. Die Arrangements stammen vom musikalischen Leiter der Galakonzerte, Alex Johansson. Als besonderes Highlight wird Stargast Conchita ihre Lieblings-Bondsongs interpretieren.