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Slippage

By Terry walstrom
 07 December 2003

What is the point of slippage? Slippage is a theory of how things are actually "created". Nothing is ever truly original. But, by increments an old way of doing things, or thinking things becomes entirely novel and fresh. This is easily done with musical tunes.

Take the tune GIVE ME THE SIMPLE LIFE and vary the last phrase and Presto! You have the theme to Candid Camera. But, let us go deeper. What if you take action music, for example, and apply slippage. What are the rewards? Onscreen there are frantic images and tense situations, lots of ambient sound, noise, effects, etc. The expectation is music that mimics that activity. For the composer that means writing a lot of notes. For the orchestra: playing fast. For the sound mixer: one more group of sounds to be blended. For the audience? Maybe just too much of everything. All that work the composer went through and the details are blurred into a soup.

What if the composer applies slippage? Instead of hundreds of fast notes he slips in just a few slow notes? What if the tempo is broad and brackets the beginning and end rather than changing lanes like a racecar? What if there is an actual melody instead of riffs and ostinati? After all, how many mood changes can be provoked in an audience? How many emotions SHOULD they be experiencing to move the plot along? Is the purpose of the action an emotionally significant one? Can that be stated in a word? Can the music not stick to that emotional tone and be successful?

Take any recent action movie with music behind it and you'll hear a mammoth wall of sonic assault. In effect, it is bursts of noise played by instruments. The visceral effect is not unlike a large group of people stomping their feet. Raw Energy is what it amounts to. But, is it emotionally informative?

I've stated all the above to make the following statement. Perhaps film composers by using slippage make a huge and important discovery about film music: Simple is better than complex in action music. A broad theme is something the audience can hang on to and stay with EMOTIONALLY. An exhilaration can stem from happiness or anger or awe but it is one emotion. Why duplicate what is onscreen?

Let us take an example: John Barry had many many opportunities to explore the effect of action music in the Bond films. Bond films had in the music a serious tone. My opinion is that the serious tone made the cartoonish action onscreen work much better. With the advent of Dolby sound recording the amount of sonic information delivered to the audience's ears doubled, then tripled over time. A film composer finds his music being drowned out. Melodic composers best efforts were, in effect, destroyed. But, the declamatory composers' efforts were not affected at all.

Not the only problem. With the advent of digital recording and editing the LOCKED DOWN print was a thing of the past for a composer. The scene could be changed and changed and changed again by the editor almost up until the week of release. A carefully timed score based on melody and synchronized action moments would be immediately rendered ineffective when edited. Not so a score with mere short cells of rhythm and chords.

Consequently, the truly gifted melodic composers began vanishing from action films. Enter SLIPPAGE and innovation. John Barry figured out a way. Loooooong, slooooow melody lines so broad it would fit over the entire scene no matter what the quick cut changes because the general definitive mood was in place. The music would "make sense" because it was now a COMPLETE thought as melodies are. It was no longer a salad but a meal. Our ears are accustomed to the usual approach, to be sure. But, I for one like the melodic approach very much.

The greatest tribute to Barry's method is in Dances with Wolves. The melodies are very strong. There is energy and there is content emotionally. The music tells you something as in a complete thought or sentence with the melody as the subject and the tempo as the verb and the emotional result the direct object. Slippage works.

Look at the flight scene in OUT OF AFRICA. The music is very slow and broad. There is no sense of matching the editing tempo to the music. However, the enormity of the exhilaration in realizing the beauty of Africa comes almost entirely from what the music accomplishes. Busy busy busy music simply could never deliver such a wallop.

Producers who are too scared of not being conventional with their music score are missing out on a great deal by not trusting John Barry's journeyman instincts. But, the biggest loss is on the part of the audience. We find it more and more difficult to FEEL something no matter how terrific the special effects onscreen.

I ask you to compare any action scene in a recent James Bond movie scored with wall to wall sonic assault by David Arnold with John Barry's efforts a decade or so earlier. Which is more emotionally satisfying? There is no ONE TRUE answer to this question. After all, like so many things in life it is a matter of taste. But, I'd rather slip out the current method and slip in the emotionally true one.

Long live SLIPPAGE.

Terry.

Read 45364 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 February 2015 15:03
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A lot more James Bond concerts collected on the link below, I have put them all in this news item. So check it out from there!

http://www.moviesinconcert.nl/index.php?page=concertlist


Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
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Sun 6th May 18
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with Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me)
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The Music of BondThe Music of Bond
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Wednesday 19 September 2018
Starts: 7:30pm

Website

Presented by Gemma Arterton (Quantum of Solace). Over fifty years of timeless James Bond themes from all your favourite 007 films.

Hits from Goldfinger, Licence to Kill, Casino Royale, Skyfall, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, Spectre, From Russia with Love to name just a few, all sung by outstanding vocalists Alison Jiear and Matthew Ford.

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
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James Bond fans are in for a treat in January 2019, as renowned Band, the popular Q The Music Show, are putting on a special concert - performing all the music from Moonraker on

26th January 2019

at the

Wycombe Swan Concert Hall,
High Wycombe,
Berkshire
United Kingdom.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

They are drafting in professional musicians from London to create a 100-piece Orchestra and Choir to recreate all of John Barry’s iconic cues from the 1979 film. As there is only around 50 minutes of music in the film, they will perform the best of the James Bond songs in the second half in true Q The Music style, but with full orchestra.

Because of the nature of this concert, and the huge costs involved, they are crowd funding it, so tickets have to be purchased by 6th May this year for the concert to go ahead on Saturday 26th January 2019.

Q The Music Show are popular with James Bond fans all around the World thanks to their dedicated and authentic versions of the music and were chosen to perform at Sir Roger Moore’s Memorial Event at Pinewood Studios in October last year. The concert will be compered by Bond girls Madeline Smith and Caroline Munro, who have been working with Q The Music this year on their theatre tour of the UK.

The concert will not be available to buy on recording after the show, and the Moonraker score has never been performed live, so this is a unique opportunity for fans to see it. If the project is a success, Q The Music plan to go on a do a different Barry/Bond score each year.

You can back the project and buy tickets here

*Please note, this is a music only performance – no images or footage from the film will be shown, and Q The Music are not associated with EON, Danjaq LLC, or the James Bond Films in any way.

Warren Ringham
Q The Music Show - James Bond Tribute Band
The London Showband - Party & Covers Band