Thursday, February 09, 2017

Cantina


I started thinking the other day about a thought I'd had before and it's about the music in Star Wars: A New Hope.   You know the scene, which is popularly known as the Cantina scene, where Hans Solo is on the pirate planet of Mos Eisley at a table and eventually SPOILERS shoots Greedo.  There are a group of aliens up on stage playing a type of ragtime, jazz music.  It sort of reminds me of the speakeasy's here on Earth back in the 20s or whatever.   John Williams has said that it's to evoke the jazz scene of the 40s, sounding both alien, but also familiar.  I think the scene is very effective the way the scene opens going into the bar, then we get the music, which sort of provides a bit of levity, and the camera pans around the bar and we see all the aliens, some menacing looking and then dashes of levity as well.  It's smoky and dimly lit with this air of something that might happen.  It's hard to argue with Lucas and Williams in the handling of that scene.  Even now as I write that I get nostalgic for the movie, and feel like re-watching the movie.

My thought though is a less specifically about that scene, but more about what would people be listening to that far into the future?  I heard someone mention The Resident's album, Not Available, the other day as sounding alien and from another galaxy, and it does at least through parts of it.  But once they start singing lyrics, it becomes campy for me.  I like The Residents somewhat, and at the same time I don't listen to them very much.  I think I can appreciate their outlook or concepts more than their actual music.
One of the musicians that comes to mind for me was Vangelis.  Of course Vangelis has done many soundtracks like the music for Bladerunner and Chariot of Fire.  I like many of his albums, and he did a lot of them in the 70s and 80s that brings that atmosphere to mind like Invisible Connections, Heaven and Hell, Albedo 0 39, Spiral, Beauborg, and many others.
A German musician that came to mind that's in the same mold as Vangelis and one that I've really enjoyed listening to lately is Klaus Schultz.  His music is moody and atmospheric.  Although to my knowledge he has never made a soundtrack ( I lied, I just remembered he did, Body Love for a porn film which is actually a good album.  Check it out on YT). But he certainly makes music for the mind that conjures up all sort of images.  Timewind by him is a synthesizer classic as are many of his other albums.
Another electronic composer that comes to mind is Richard Baumann.   He played in one of the earlier line-ups of one of the classic electronic bands, Tangerine Dream.  With his solo output, he did not put out very many albums, but one in particular is fairly classic, Romance 76.
At any rate there are hundreds of electronic composers that I could probably list here, and I enjoy listening to that type music.  Way back in the mid to late 70s I bought an Arp Odyssey.  I didn't know anything at all about synthesizers, but was already listening to Tangerine Dream, and felt that that was the next frontier of music.  I don't think it was fully embrace by the public, particularly some of the more cerebral efforts like I've mentioned above, but today it has scores of fans.  The 80s was a decade that started to really use synthesizers in pop or new wave music.   They took it into a new direction, some I liked and others not as much.  But it was around that time frame I feel that synthesizer finally got firm footing as a musical instrument, and it's still very much with us today.





 


2 comments:

Richard Bellush said...

I recommend a collection of short stories entitled “The Draco Tavern” by Larry Niven. All included tales are set in a tavern at a Siberian spaceport servicing interplanetary and interstellar travelers to earth. Since the first of the stories was copyrighted in 1977 I’m pretty sure Niven was influenced by the Cantina in Star Wars. As always, Larry entertains.

Live bands, be they jazz or some as yet uninvented genre, probably always will be in demand in clubs just for the atmosphere they create. After all, they weren’t wholly displaced by recorded music in 1927 when the first fully fledged jukebox appeared. Nor are they yet. But I could be wrong. Maybe people will come to prefer music not only played by AI but written it: http://io9.gizmodo.com/5973551/this-classical-music-was-created-by-a-supercomputer-in-less-than-a-second

El Vox said...

Wow, thanks for the book tip. I wasn't familiar with that Niven collection at all. I'll have to look for it. Niven is good with aliens.

I've heard about some of that computer written music. There was also some hubbub about how using the computer helped write pop songs too some time back. I believe Back Eyed Peas used a computer: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113673324
That all sounds a bit sterile or artificial, I prefer to think there's an alien Mozart out there somewhere.