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CLASSIC WESTERN MOVIE THEMES

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The all-American Western genre of film has given us some of the most stylish visuals and recognisable soundtracks in cinematic history.

This playlist celebrates the diversity and sheer exuberance of one of the most popular genres of film music.

Highlights include:-

DANCES WITH WOLVES
John Barry’s soundtrack for Kevin Costner’s 1990 American epic western war film Dances with Wolves, was awarded the 1991 Academy Award for Best Score and the 1992 Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition.

Barry’s trademark symphonic romanticism perfectly matches Costner’s striking visuals of the disappearing Western plains. Although the score may not be complex it oozes emotion.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Ennio Morricone’s main theme to Sergio Leone’s 1966 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is the most instantly recognisable Western theme of all time. An instant hit, the soundtrack stayed on the charts for more than a year, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard pop album chart.

The distinctive, original composition features gunfire, whips, whistling and yodelling and a two-note melody. This screaming motif, resembling the howling of a coyote, is played on three different instruments representing the three lead characters – a flute, an ocarina, and a choir.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN
Distinguished film composer Elmer Bernstein wrote the driving score for The Magnificent Seven, John Sturges’ 1960 remake of Akira Kurosawa’s classic The Seven Samurai.

Conjuring vistas of dusty plains and big skies, the galloping main theme surely rates as one of the most stirring and recognisable themes ever composed.

Although it lost out to Ernest Gold’s Exodus in the Best Score category at the 1961 Academy Awards, Bernstein’s soundtrack was ranked by the American Film Institute the eighth greatest American film score of all time on the list of AFI’s 100 Years of Film Scores (Exodus does not make the top 25).

HIGH NOON
Composed by Dimitri Tiomkin with lyrics by Ned Washington, this haunting title track from the film High Noon (1952) starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly won Tex Ritter the 1952 Academy Award for Best Original Song.

The song has been praised for its musical integration with the rest of the score (which also won an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award), as well as lyrically matching the themes of honour and obligation which typically drive which drive this stunning allegorical Western.

Widely recognised and much loved, The Ballad of High Noon (or Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darlin’) was tremendously influential. Now recognised as one of the first ‘theme songs’, the track popularised songs in film scores and defined the lyrical style that later dominated title songs in Western movies.

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