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Ennio Morricone's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: A Film Score Guide (Film Score Guides) Paperback – September 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews


The famous score with its tootling theme song that may be Morricone's best-known work is the subject of a close reading by Leinberger, a music theorist at the U. of Texas at El Paso. Morricone is a five-time Academy Award nominee who's scored films in many genres, but it's his work for westerns that has tuck in most filmgoers' minds. Leinberger traces the composer's musical background and experience in Italy and in Hollywood; explores the techniques that distinguish his music; and examines the cultural and historical contexts of "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" and its score. A final chapter analyzes the score's compositional techniques from the opening credits to the climactic ending. Includes a selected filmography of Morricone's work. (Reference & Research Book News)

...a breezy yet highly informative overview of the film, the filmmakers, and the composer...a valuable resource for a pivotal work by one of Italy's most respected and popular composers. (Mark R. Hassan Music From The Movies)

Charles Leinberger, a graduate of the University of Arizona, looks at the historical context of Morricone's music before discussing the plot and characters in the film and breaking down the composer's unmistakable techniques, such as the use of the 'micro-cell technique' - the immediate juxtaposition of short and contrasting musical idea - and his unique tonality (the use of minor modes and pentatonic and hexatonic scales). He concludes by dissecting the score in minute detail, focusing on each character's particular musical themes and how they interact with the story. As a history of Morricone and his methods, this is a really fascinating book. (Muso)

About the Author

Charles Leinberger is a professor of music at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has been a private trumpet instructor throughout the American Southwest and holds a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the University of Arizona in Tucson.

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Product Details

  • Series: Film Score Guides (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 153 pages
  • Publisher: Scarecrow Press (September 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810851326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810851320
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.4 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.3 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,251,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Christopher C. Tew on September 1, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Leinberger's film score guide is probably not intended for serious musicians. This guide spends rather too much space on the film's plot and production history, the actors and director, and not nearly enough on actual musical analysis. To be fair, the analysis is generally good and to the point (my only qualm being that Leinberger seems to say that changing the tempo of an ostinato results in a new and different ostinato), there's just not enough of it in enough depth.

Almost all of the analysis falls within one chapter. Leinberger could easily have done musical analyses of all three Man with No Name films had he skipped the background information that is bettered covered by Christopher Frayling, among others. Perhaps he was overly constrained by the series format and his editor's intentions.

The musical samples are well printed and cover most of the text points, but all are presented as melodic lines without any of the supporting harmony or percussion rhythms - even though Leinberger does discuss Morricone's use of modal harmony and novel percussion effects. There are no details of the percussion instruments used. More information about the recording sessions and matters of timing would also have been helpful.

I had already done a more thorough analysis of this music in my head, and all I really expected from this guide were the musical samples to confirm what I thought I heard. Musicians will not find much else here that they haven't already figured out themselves by listening. I recommend this guide mostly to non-musicians who want a complete library on the films of Sergio Leone or the music of Ennio Morricone.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By J. Calahan on March 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
The previous review nailed on the head Leinberger's lack of in-depth focus on the score itself, despite being touted as just that, and so my comments will rather focus on the writing of the book, which is just plain awful.

In general, the book relies too much on repetition. Leinberger has no sense of how to develop an argument; he divides chapters into smaller sub-sections, never caring whether or not there is a logic to the order of chapters, and often repeating statements or ideas within these arbitrary sections. Chapters 2 and 4 in particular, "Morricone's Technique of Film Scoring" and "The Music and Its Context," contain sections that are almost identical.

The writing itself is even worse. The structure of the book gives Leinberger ample room for commentary on the historical and cultural contexts surrounding the film, filmmakers and score, yet his analysis is rarely insightful and too often full of fan-style appreciation. He never fails to include telling adjectives such as "skillful," "bold," "imaginative," "innovative," and the like, avoiding objectivity in moments where he reflects critically on Morricone's influence and reception. Instead of drawing larger conclusions from the presence of diverse musical elements within Morricone's score (popular music, electronically-amplified instruments, human voices, minimalism, musique concrete, etc), he merely mentions their presence within the score (many times over, in fact), expecting us to be struck by their importance merely thru his simple act of observation. Often, he combines these faults, writing sentences like "Although minimalism was used in later film scores...such a device was still quite rare in the 1960s and is evidence of Morricone's inclusion of modern elements in his film music.
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