By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
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By Shea Serrano
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By Dan Weiss
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By Kai Flanders
Morricone is a freak of nature of sorts to begin with. One thing that makes him unique among film composers — be they European or American — is that he is one of the, if not the, most prolific film composer alive today. The enormity of his output — the amount of music that he has written — is almost incomprehensible. That unto itself is phenomenal because that immediately makes him superhuman amongst those who have to make music at the drop of a hat. Film composers are the most prolific music makers on this planet, and most of us are like losing our minds if we’re doing five or more movies in a year. But with him, if you look at his credits, there were years when he was doing 20, 25 movies, and so that always amazes me and all of us. Now, that’s a tough act to follow.
His contribution among American film composers is that he happened to create a language that could only have been made for someone working in Europe, but he did it in such a way that, unlike a lot of other scores that are written for European films, he communicated in a language we got immediately. When I say “we,” I mean American composers but also and more importantly the world at large here in America. I’ve heard he struggles with speaking English, yet you listen to his scores and you wouldn’t know that. I think his music always illuminates what’s going on dramatically in a manner that could have fooled most of us into believing that he understood exactly what was being said and going on.
Memorable tunesmith, you better believe it. This guy could knock off tunes like you or I could piss in a bucket. But he hates being considered a film composer. Rather, he’d like to think of himself as a concert composer first and foremost, who happens to have gotten himself sidetracked in this movie thing. So if you talk to him about his favorite work, I suspect the very last thing that would come out of his mouth would be The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, which, of course, to most Americans is the first thing that would come out of their mouths when they’re talking about the impact of his work. I’ve heard a lot of the work he did with this improvisational group of Italian composers and performers, a series of CDs that were put out in the ’60s and ’70s. Amazing stuff. But let’s face it, probability states that he’ll be remembered for his film music because there’s so many films that he’s scored. He’s done more than 300 movies, right? There aren’t many composers who have gotten to 300. Two hundred, yeah, but 300, forget about it. It’s going to be impossible in the year 2727 not to come across at least 100 of the movies he’s scored, even after most of the films from this last century have long since been forgotten.
A professor of film scoring at USC’s Thornton School of Music, Young has composed for such blockbuster films as The Grudge and Spider-Man 3 .
When I think of Morricone, more than his using a specific instrument or a specific sound, it’s his way of approaching music that sticks out. He would take nontraditional, nonorchestral sounds and combine them in a musical way and create new, sonic templates from found sounds, whether it’s the reverb of an amp or the ticking of a clock or human whistling. It was an entirely new approach.
He’s definitely influenced our whole business in maybe even more subtle, unconscious ways. The notion of sampling and recording and manipulating sounds, which so many composers do now, can be attributed to what he does. I think also his gift for simplicity, keeping things as simple as possible to have the maximum effect. And melody.
A lot of his music is classic and recognized not just by film-music fans but by the general public at large and I think one of the reasons it transcends the film barrier is the fact that he’s able to approach music in a new way and say something new. I think it’s already made its mark and it’s not something that will be forgotten.
My favorite composers when I was a kid were Morricone and Nino Rota, although I didn’t exactly know who they were then — films like Satyricon and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly had such outstanding soundtracks. It was the kind of music that was so powerful you could listen to it without a film running. It was compelling on its own, which isn’t always the sign of a good score. But they were able to win on two levels at once, by being able to make it both a good score and good stand-alone music.