World Music Matters - Ennio Morricone: a tribute to the late maestro

Italian composer Ennio Morricone was famed for his film scores but his work straddled jazz, pop, psychedelia as well as the avant-garde, influencing bands as diverse as Air and Metallica.
Ennio Morricone left behind some 500 scores for both film and television.
The theme tune to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is undoubtedly one of the most renowned.

“Just 10 seconds into one of Morricone’s soundtracks, you know it’s him, you know which film it’s from, you can see the pictures,” said French composer Jean-Michel Jarre in the wake of the Italian composer’s death on 6 July.

To recreate this feeling of the American far west, Morricone added on drums, some flute, and of course the "cry" of a coyote.

The trademark whistling came courtesy of Spanish guitarist and whistler Curro Savoye, who now lives in the south of France.

The two men never met, but Savoye was "the" whistler on the vast majority of Morricone’s work.

The film soundtrack also includes “Ecstasy of Gold” – a stirring three-minute orchestral bonanza with drums to set you galloping into the sunset and wordless vocals by Edda Dell’orso with whom Morricone regularly collaborated.

The music is so stirring it became a fetish piece for U.S. band Metallica. Since 1983 they’ve played it to open all their concerts.

They recorded their own version of “The Ecstasy of Gold” for their tribute album to Morricone in 2007, and performed the song themselves for the first time at a 2009 concert in Copenhagen.

Metallica frontman James Hetfield said something special happened when they begun using the piece as their intro music in 1983.  “It set us up for the night and the fans got excited.”

In a tribute to Morricone on Instagram, he said the music had become “part of our blood flow, deep breathing, fist bumping, prayers and band huddle pre-show ritual ever since”.

'Elevated every film he scored'

Morricone wrote scores for six of Sergio Leone’s westerns. Their last collaboration was in 1984 for Once upon a time in America.

It was customary at the time to write the soundtrack before shooting the film, but still, Morricone’s music was so evocative that the director played it on set to conjure up the right atmosphere.

Sergio Leone’s westerns helped make Morricone a household name but the composer’s artistic reach knew no bounds.

Here in France, his biggest hit is the violin-heavy “Chi Mai” which famously featured in the 1981 film “The Professional” starring Jean-Paul Belmondo. Morricone was ...
11 Jul 2020 English France TV & Film

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