30 April 2018
29 April 2018
One good result (for the composer, at any rate) of casting whatever I am thinking, at the moment, onto the blog is, when I go back, I find things whereof I have apparently lost all recollection. Otherwise, Grapefruits of Rage might always have been lost to me (and . . . to the musical world).
Separately – while I thought that this was exactly the phrase as related to me when a friend spoke (in an affectionately jokey manner, to be sure) of his favorite country songs . . . the only results on the Internet to show for “I Sure Could Learn to Miss You, Baby, If You’d Only Go Away” are posts which I made, myself. What if I made that up?And this is from Thursday, the piece I drew up late in November, as indicated here.
28 April 2018
Yesterday evening I watched Dr No. (Oh, yes—I did.)
Obviously, this was made for peanuts compared to any later Bond production; and they made it, focusing on the task, without any (or, much) thought to it being The First Item in The Franchise.
Like [the tone recaptured in] the Craig—and first, IMO, in the Dalton—era, the tone is borderline dangerous, there is an edge which custom, and the winks at the audience, have not yet dulled. Many feel that Connery has played the role best; and here he plays it more nearly stripped-down than later. The observation will not change anyone’s opinion, but in his (thoroughly respectable) tenure, Connery (and director Terry Young, here) defined the character as a blend of the steely-nerved killer on Ian Fleming’s pages, and the suave playboy whom Terry Young modeled. I’m not writing in reproof of anyone; but it was a choice. I am not saying that he would not have had any quarrel if they kept the character to Fleming’s text, but recall that Patrick McGoohan declined to play the role because Bond was a loose libertine, “morally flexible,” as Martin Blank might put it . . . although arguably, that aspect is part of why Bond became a cultural icon in the ’60s.
On balance, I am a little surprised to report, I enjoy Dr No quite a great deal—probably better than any Connery Bond other than From Russia With Love. I wonder if it is worth delving into any correlation between this, and the fact that gadgetry, and the grand exploding set-piece, would soon assume signature prominence in the brand. Sure, they blow up the evil Doctor’s bauxite mine, but they did not yet have the budget to linger over it. Maybe in 1962 they could not have done otherwise, but I do find myself deducting points for casting an actress whose lines had to be looped. Sure, Ursula Andress is (the jury has long since been out) easy on the eyes—although her swimming outfit’s bottom has lines suggestive of Tatiana’s of Novosibirsk. But I see it not so much as an exigency of the immediate production, as the start of a franchise tic . . . both the casting of foreign actors who cannot deliver their lines in English (I know Gert Frobe is a general favorite, but now, I can hardly bear to watch his face on screen) and the casting of female actors, of any nationality other than Russian, as Russian spies. (To be clear: I understand that Honey Ryder is not a Russian spy . . . .)
Of course, Quarrel had to perish, and Honey to survive, otherwise that final shot of the boat would have had less appeal.
We learn something, I suppose, about Bond’s character, though it is nothing to admire, when he guns down Prof. Dent. Maybe I am coming too fresh from Judi Dench’s M, who found frequent irritation in Bond’s killing targets whom she would have preferred to interrogate, but I cannot help finding Dent’s execution gratuitous and vindictive. Of course, Bond’s coolly expert observation—That's a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six—is one of the dramatic highlights of the screenplay (and Bond would not have known that for a certainty, perhaps, until he switched the light on). But whether this is perhaps a 21st-c. retrofit, I consider that this means that Dent was a pretty safe capture at this point, and not just meat to be cut down.
And perhaps it is a little goofy that Bond asks that Felix Leiter give him a tow, only to let the rope slip for the final camera shot. Wasn’t that pretty much (so to speak) the boat they were in, before Leiter’s craft hove to?
Again, perhaps a bit of a retrofit, but I am a bit disappointed that the catalyst for the villain’s demise, was his deformity. When the evil Doctor (and, he is the evil Doctor, so, sure, he deserves to snuff it) dies in the radioactive pool, because his metal hands cannot grasp and pull him back to safety—whatever else we may say, it is not a “clean kill.”
I’m going to go ahead and make a clean breast of this: while it is not the sole reason, I suppose, I am happiest about Dr No when I reflect that its (and Connery’s) success was the seed of Mel Brooks’ Get Smart.
27 April 2018
26 April 2018
25 April 2018
Late last century (i.e., long, long ago now) I wrote a piece for orchestral winds (plus percussion), for Clemson University. In the texture, I applied rhythmic patterns inspired by an African drumming seminar taught at the University of Virginia by the Professor of Jazz Studies, Scott Deveaux. A bit whimsically, I sent my score and a soundfile to Scott, asking him to confirm that I would not be liable to charges of Practicing Jazz Without a License. He wrote back to assure me that I was safe – “although it does have a groove; how unimaginative of you.”
Five years ago, I lived something of a different life . . . my supplemental job was at the MFA Gift Shop, and I composed part of this piece while rolling home on the Lowell Line train which was out of South Station at, oh, I do not quite remember, maybe 11:00PM.
24 April 2018
The day after the King’s Chapel concert, I drew up a new piece for my handbell choir, to be played with mallets (though, there is no reason it cannot be rung, instead). Oh, and there is an optional drum part. We had quite a bit of fun (combined with learning labors) working on this after the service Sunday.
(This MIDI demo uses other timbres, nota bene.)
23 April 2018
22 April 2018
16 April 2018
With thanks to a courteous and most helpful MBTA chap at Alewife, who assisted me in reassembling my cart after it slouched apart at the base of an escalator—the last of the non-instrument gear has been brought to King’s Chapel.
The day is turning out something of a (figurative, only figurative) marathon.
I am hieing me towards lunch.
I’ve folded the programs now, and there is no reason I should have done so any earlier.
My plan is to deliver the gear to the Chapel soonish after they open, to have the more free time between that errand, and collecting composer Mark Gresham at Logan Airport.
We have somehow accumulated additional logistical concerns for this concert, but all in the gratifying interests of serving some of my fellow composers.
Oh, and a Triad rehearsal this evening, as well. On the whole, a day when I feel reasonably certain that, yes, I am a musician.
14 April 2018
11 April 2018
09 April 2018
08 April 2018
07 April 2018
The score by Michel Legrand is perhaps the most obvious “aberration” in the rogue 007 movie, Never Say Never Again. Not bad, not unsuitable; but clearly a different tone.
Today I realize that they must have given 'Q' a name (Algy) because we really could not have Connery addressing anyone other than Desmond Llewellyn as 'Q'.