Stuff that occurs to me

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Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

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Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Friday, 8 November 2013

Nice things said in an academic journal article about David Arnold's scores for James Bond - quite right too

Edit 3 December 2013
I bet London-based readers of this page will also be interested in: David Arnold's introducing You Only Live Twice at BFI in January 2014 - you need to be a BFI member or have an Amex card, and apply for free tickets - details in the post.

In the past year I've been to hear about 10 'screen composers' (those lovely people that write music for film and television, which seems like a magical thing to do) talk about their work, or about film music more generally. I have also been hoovering up journal articles about film music - much of it is quite beyond me, especially when it goes into music theory, but my favourite journal is Music, Sound, and the Moving Image which is the most readable for an outsider.

I recently read this article by Dr Miguel Mera which has nice things to say about David Arnold's work in scoring some of the James Bond films. Both Miguel and David are in the 10 composers I've heard talk so it was nice to read one praising the work of another.
Miguel Mera (2009) Invention/Re-invention Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring, pp. 1-20  (abstract only)
"Recurrent motives such as the silhouetted opening title graphics, evil megalomaniacal villains with evil megalomaniacal sidekicks, exotic locations, fast cars, Bond girls, gadgets, and extraordinary stunts, are all recognisable Bond clich├ęs. The way Bond manages to overcome insurmountable odds and almost certain death (deadly lasers, poisonous snakes, planes about to crash into mountains, and so on) is what is so beguiling. The mythical idea of Bond that has accrued since the 1950s is much more important than whichever actor is portraying him at a particular point in history. This principle also pervades the repeated  use of music throughout the film series, as Jeff Smith has observed: ‘The almost Pavlovian association of music and character has been a key to the series’ success in both domestic and international markets’ (2003: 119).

David Arnold’s accomplishment in scoring the Bond films in recent years is due as much to his respectful acknowledgement of John Barry’s 1960s sound and Monty Norman’s original Bond theme, as to the new elements brought to the franchise. Arnold’s music represents an elegant integration of broad orchestral statements, big-band inspired brass, electronica, and exotic percussion. Arnold has also consistently been involved in the creation of title songs, incorporating their elements into his scores. He references the established Bond motives and gestures and, consequently, the scores sound like the contemporary continuation of a tradition. In short, Arnold fulfilled many of the unwritten rules of the Bond scores.

... ... ... ... ...

...Arnold upheld the basic principles of consistency and change that have shaped the Bond series’ success for over fifty years..."

Having recently heard him sing 'The World is Not Enough' (he wrote the music, Don Black wrote the lyrics I think) at Southbank* I can't help thinking he should be singing the Bond themes as well as scoring the films! Very nice voice.

*It was for Don Black's "A life in song" event that was hosted by Michael Grade with the BBC Concert Orchestra and recorded. They said it would be broadcast around Christmas.

See also - David Arnold saying nice things about John Barry's arrangement of Monty Norman's Bond theme :)
John Barry invented the spy movie score: Unique arrangements ushered in a new genre of films from Variety, 2008

"Barry’s arrangement of the Bond theme for “Dr. No” in 1962 started it all. “You have the bebop-swing vibe coupled with that vicious, dark, distorted electric guitar, definitely an instrument of rock ‘n’ roll,” Arnold says. “Sound-wise, it represented everything about the character you would want: It was cocky, swaggering, confident, dark, dangerous, suggestive, sexy, unstoppable. And he did it in two minutes.”"

See also also
Were it feasible I would go and hear film / TV composer David Arnold talk at this thing in Edinburgh (18 August 2013) - on this blog

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