Thursday, November 19, 2015

What if the great composers wrote the music for the closing credits of '80's TV shows? Part II.

I'll bet you thought there wasn't really going to be a Part II. But, no, the truth is, I really do have these thoughts (see subject heading) and it's an important part of my therapy to meet them head on in this way. (Part I is here.)

So today we investigate a melody which I have to admit I really don't like, although I guess other people enjoy it. I was having a Facebook discussion with a friend recently and we were both agreeing that César Franck wrote more than a few over-ripe tunes,* many of which he stuffed into his Symphony in D Minor.

I even featured one of those tunes (from the first movement) in my recent post about Sigmund Spaeth's notorious "The Great Symphonies." Spaeth also has words for the finale's theme (which Spaeth transposes from D to A so more people can sing these snappy lyrics):

And here's what I wrote about this tune in my very Franck Facebook discussion: would be a good theme song for a bad, early 80's TV show: 'This is a song / about some people who do some stuff / they're all related / it's syncopated!'

See, I really do have those thoughts.

I had not remembered Spaeth's lyrics when I also chose to salute the symphony's syncopations in verse, but surely that jaunty rhythm is one of the reasons I could hear the music working perfectly in this context:

Frankly, Franck's pervasive chromaticism might've been a bit much for TV, although perhaps it could be symbolic of all the deception roiling beneath that broad Texas sky. I went ahead and left the notes as Franck left them, but I'm sure in the proper harmonic/orchestral dress, this theme would sound EXACTLY right for this show.

I admit it's not quite as big a success musically as my "Hooked on Classics" Dvořák from my last post, but that's partly because the symphonic texture here is so dense and really needs more pruning than I care to do. Incidentally, two themes from the scherzo of Dvořák's "New World" Symphony have always struck me as perfect cowboy tunes, and if this was a "What if the great composers wrote the music for the closing credits of '50's Westerns?" post, I'm sure you'd be seeing me take these tunes to their logical conclusions. (Note that the composer's original orchestration would've worked fine then...which is boring.) Forget Copland, Ives, and Gershwin. Maybe Dvořák really is America's greatest composer!

Yes, there will be a Part III! (and here it is)

* In fairness to César, I'll concede that this is one of the most perfect tunes ever - and it's a canon!

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