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SurfGuitar101 Forums » Best-Of SG101 »

Permalink The Spaghetti Western Thread

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Noel wrote:

Ah, the music. I suppose modern spaghetti westerm surf music bears a passing resemblance to those classic film scores.

How? In what ways? Why just a "passing" resemblance?

But certain key elements are recognizable, whether in As The Dark Wave Swells by The Bambi Molesters or Phistful of Photons by The Tomorrowmen.

What elements? Can you elaborate?

There is a certain sound or feel to the music that separates it from Spy, Horror, Space, Hotrod and Traditional surf music.

What's the "sound?" How would you describe the "feel?" Similarly, what sound and feel do Spy, Horror, Space, Hot Rod and traditional Surf Music have that give them a sub-genre all their own?

One of the things that separates Neopolitan music from other Italian music is it has its' own scale that helps give it a unique sound.

Do you mean "Neapolitan?" Are you talking about popular Neapolitan song, 18th c. Opera or modern day scale theory? If it's the latter, a harmonic minor with a flatted second is more associated with Hungarian Folk music and "gypsy" music than Naples. Or in the major sense, is really just a Lydian mode, which is more associated with ancient Greek music. In Western music theory, "Neapolitan" commonly refers to a specific chord, the Neapolitan 6th, which was being used long before the composers of the so-called "Neapolitan School," a term mainly associated with Opera that isn't really used by musicologists these days. And even when it was, it was more about subject matter than any musical characteristics. Can you cite specific examples of this "scale's" use that differentiate the music of Naples from the rest of Italy?

...I believe so is this genre of surf music immediately distinguishable from the other forms.

Again, how? Specifics?

Insect Surfers
The Tikiyaki Orchestra
Surfer Joe
Fiberglass Jungle - Surf Radio

Great questions! I was hoping to start a dialog.

EDITS: (No sense correcting my spelling mistakes.) Amd now, while I go off in search of the answers to your completely valid and excellent questions, which will take some time as I am about to once again surrender my wife's long-overkept and borrowed PC, and also because I have no idea what the answers are, please understand that some here might be so intimidated by your understandable attempt to get me to stand by my claims that they wouldn't post any more opinions about music again, ever. IMHO. But I like a challenge.

Who knows? I may have to eat every word, or only some of them. Hopefully much more to follow.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Jan 15, 2013 21:45:37

In the meantime, I nominate Jeff BTD to answer Jonpaul's questions, I'm sure he'll be glad to chime in in great detail Smile

Some thoughts from a thread earlier this month, my thoughts are not necessarily meant to be correct, but just ideas and questions.

Spaghetti Western
l'Arena by Ennio Morricone, one of my favorite songs ever. That man has written some of the best songs ever. He has been brilliant across his entire career and the Spaghetti Western scores only make up but a portion.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFJMNo8r8Xo

And what people call Spaghetti Western now
This is one of the first hits on youtube. And when you see bands saying "this is spaghetti western" listen to it.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjimEZpBPUE

We have several problems with this "Spaghetti Western" musical genre.

1.) Orchestration
Listen to any Morricone in his Spaghetti days, what instruments do you hear? A rock trio or foursome? No. You hear many different instruments coming in a different times. You might hear one instrument and not hear it again, or an instrument might only come in during choruses. The "theme" will be played on one instrument to begin with and then played by a completely different one later on. Listen to Sixty Second Til What, for example. Fucking brilliant, dyamnics to kill for, song writing to tear out your soul, and emotion to cause a heart attack.

2.) Twang/Guitar
It is all about twang for these new bands. But I wouldn't really call the Morricone stuff twang, the gate on it most of his guitar is pretty quick. It is pretty dull and thuddy. And how little guitar does Morricone have? This goes back to my above point, lots of vocals, horns. Guitar is an accent, not a centerpiece. So really, the fault here is that guitar is way too present and completely not in the style of Morricone's guitar playing.

3.) Couple minute verse/chorus/verse pop songs... Don't write a surf song, take off reverb and call it spaghetti western. Make an effort to study Morricone and how he wrote. How he used space, how he used tension, and how he created the emotion his tracks had.

There are some really good Spaghetti Western acts out there, but most actually shouldn't be calling themselves that because they don't sound remotely like it and obviously fail to grasp the genre both cinematically and musically.

It was really unfortunate that these films, and music, got labeled as Spaghetti Westerns because it immediately strips credibility from the films from anybody who hears the term. In actuality a lot of Spaghetti Westerns were far better than the Hollywood Westerns. They are films that understand the human condition. They don't paint things in black and white and shows the struggle and ambiguity that is right and wrong. The characters struggle with this, and the music really frames this at times.

Jake made some very valid points. I think the big stage that Morricone creates benefits the guitar, or any other featured instrument during the duration of any one of his scores.
If you don’t have your analytic hat on, you could be lead to think it’s guitar music, mainly because coming from Surf you likely are focused on guitar.
But of course it’s not guitar music. It’s really great and innovative orchestral music. And that’s the great thing about Spaghetti - the use of unusual orchestration for dramatic purposes.
How bland is anything Hans Zimmer is able to pull off in comparison?

The Exotic Guitar of Kahuna Kawentzmann

You can get the boy out of the Keynes era, but you can’t get the Keynes era out of the boy.

Last edited: Jan 16, 2013 01:56:12

I think one thing about gear is that is easy to discuss by anyone who has some, or even doesn't. "Nice new or vintage guitar or amp I or you have there." "Great sound," or even just, "pretty colors." This is substantially different than discussing music.

For example, if I play 50 or 150 surf CDs, I'll notice that certain tunes sound (to me) more similar to each other than the rest, and I may end up putting tunes into groups that sound more alike than not. If I'd read enough here, I might recognize that one group of tunes sounds traditional, some sound like hotrod, some sound like horror or space, and some sound like spaghetti. How would I come to those conclusions? In my own case, only from everything I've read and listened to here. No one I know (meaning if someone else does I don't know it) outside this genre (mostly here) discusses this music in any substantial way. Surf musicology? Surf music history? The music theory of surf music? If I've read anything about surf music I read it here.

I also think some here don't like the idea of sub-genres. My own reason might be that this is a small pond to sub-divide and that the differences are minor. But by our nature or learning we categorize things. "Wash the reds by themselves!!!!" "Big versus little." "Likes versus dislikes." Even if it is just our likes and dislikes, meybe especially our likes and dislikes, we categorize. Besides, there has been intent to create surf music within these categories. Tributes to Morricone, horror fims scores, the music of hotrod films, sci-fi movie music, etc, etc., etc. Without categories of music, I think we we lack a simple way to discuss similar music exclusive of the music that's different.

About "Neopolitan," it's just one of my spelling poloponies. The idea I mentioned about the scale and unique sound of Neapolitan music came from some things I remembered reading over the years about Neapolitan songs. I am not nearly bright enough or well enough educated in musicology to develop a new music theory or defend it off-hand.

My intent here was to start a conversation by tossing out some comments I've gleaned here in the last 22 months that I hoped would attract attention, and thereby I would learn some things I don't know.

And one more thing. Jonpaul did ask the right questions. Thanks, Jonpaul. I wrote opinions as if they were facts and didn't mention I was using random things I remembered reading here (except for the Neapolitan music comment). That was pretty sloppy of me, and Jonpaul had every right and was completely correct to call me out on it. I know better. But I have known many people who would wither away from the questions he asked and never speak up again. I wouldn't want that to happen and would feel bad if it was because of a sloppy post I wrote.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Jan 16, 2013 09:29:13

One more question. Is there more to this than just the very subjective, "I know it when I hear it," statement? Whether or not there is, how else would that opinion form other than by listening and reading here or elsewhere? I mean, none of the concepts or terms would just come to anyone in a vacuum, would they?

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Jan 16, 2013 10:36:51

kick_the_reverb wrote:

In the meantime, I nominate Jeff BTD to answer Jonpaul's questions, I'm sure he'll be glad to chime in in great detail Smile

huh? wha? who me?
what was the question again?
Neapolitan? isn't that Ice Cream?
I like Mint Chip myself.

Jeff(bigtikidude)

I also wanted to agree with Jake, some very good points there.
I had discussions with Jonpaul in the past about the subject. It was mainly about surf bands covering Morricone, and how to me the whole subject was kind of "sacrilege" since I felt the real genius of the music gets lost.

It's no more sacrilegious than covering Ernesto Lacuona or anyone else for that matter. Of course "surf" bands playing "spaghetti western" tunes do not do the same thing as Morricone; they are three, four or five piece (for the most part) bands featuring guitar bass and drums (and maybe some brass or keys), not orchestras. What they do is play spaghetti western or spaghetti western-influenced tunes in a surf style suited to their instrumentation, just like The Trashmen adapted the lushly orchestrated Malagueña and played it on two guitars bass and drums. The original James Bond theme was not played on two guitars bass and drums, but plenty of "surf" bands play spy-influenced tunes.

It seems to me that all kinds of influences are perfectly valid and saying that they don't do everything that the originals that influenced them did somewhat misses the point.

Los Fantasticos

Jon,
I agree with you, its a surf/instro band.
playing a spaghetti western song.

But some like to pick fly shit out of pepper.
Whatever

Jeff(bigtikidude)

bigtikidude wrote:

But some like to pick fly shit out of pepper.

Not that I have a problem with that Big Grin

Los Fantasticos

djangodeadman wrote:

bigtikidude wrote:

But some like to pick fly shit out of pepper.

Not that I have a problem with that Big Grin

What follows are my opinions based on my own personal observations. YMMV.

So what's to be done to actually encourage everyone to discuss music more than gear? I only know 22 months more about surf music than I did before I joined. That can't compare to some here who created the music in the first place, or who've been part of it for decades. Nearly everything I say is wrong in some way and there are many here more than happy to correct my misunderstandings. I don't have a problem with that because I won't learn otherwise.

I think a lot of members just read posts about music, but like the kids in school who don't say anything in class for fear of being wrong after seeing what happened to someone who did, they stay silent. So music posts either aren't started in the first place or dry up from lack of contributions.

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

Last edited: Jan 17, 2013 08:32:42

One of the things I enjoy most about the original Italian Western scores is the orchestration. In my "Spaghetti" flavored stuff, I try to incorporate that aspect as much as possible. I don't have an orchestra at my disposal, so I do the best I can using keyboards and samples. It takes a lot of work trying to make these things work and sound realistic without coming off as cheesy, and being my own worst critic, I think I have a pretty good idea when something just doesn't work. Some may have other ideas about that, but that's okay... different strokes.

There were also lots of Spaghetti scores featuring pretty standard rock band instrumentation - drums, organ, bass and guitar. I find that stuff equally interesting. I'm not sure if these scores were a result of budget constraints, or an artistic choice by the producers. Either way, they still sound great to me.

I think all musicians are just trying to create music based on what they like, and are limited by their abilities and resources. Sometimes, that makes for some really unique and interesting stuff... sometimes, not so much. If people didn't try though, I guess we'd still just be banging two rocks together for entertainment. Regardless, I'm sure there would be someone there to scoff at the rocks they were using. Big Grin

Mike

manfromravcon.com

What gauge rocks were they using? Igneous surf way more than sedimentaty. Although bones have way more twang. Of course, you're talking point to point rocks, right? Oh, and it all depends on the reverb the cave you're in is producing. Mountain caves tend to be a bit harsh and artificial sounding, while underground caves are warm, full and natural. That is, unless you replace the lava tubes.

Insect Surfers
The Tikiyaki Orchestra
Surfer Joe
Fiberglass Jungle - Surf Radio

JONPAUL wrote:

What gauge rocks were they using? Igneous surf way more than sedimentaty. Although bones have way more twang. Of course, you're talking point to point rocks, right? Oh, and it all depends on the reverb the cave you're in is producing. Mountain caves tend to be a bit harsh and artificial sounding, while underground caves are warm, full and natural. That is, unless you replace the lava tubes.

... and don't forget how well the underground caves drip!

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

My only problem with the genre right now is being looked at as disrespectful to Morricone or any other fine composer. Just my observation, but why is he held above say, Zappa, Bach, Lennon/McCartney, etc.? People do variations or outright copies of their music. I find no offense in that. The only problem I have is when these no talent, no imagination ass clowns sample the music and put it in their hip hop bullshit "music." I also find no problem with labeling something "spaghetti western." To me it's just a label for a sub-genre of surf music. Jake, please don't take this as me calling you out. I respect your opinion as I know that you're a well versed individual who takes music seriously. I respect Morricone's music and do look at his compositions as more than just "spaghetti western" music. Also, while we're on the subject, my band is not doing Morricone's music. Our stuff is original and inspired by said composer. Okay, I'm rambling, so I'll end with this: It's all (surf/spy/spaghetti/tiki, etc.) just rock and roll when you really look at it!

Either you surf, or you fight.

imafunkyman wrote:

I respect Morricone's music and do look at his compositions as more than just "spaghetti western" music.

As I'm sure does he. In the summer I met someone who had recently stayed at Morricone's apartment. Apparently he will not talk about "spaghetti western" music at all amd has absolutely no interest in revisiting any of his previous work.

Los Fantasticos

imafunkyman wrote:

My only problem with the genre right now is being looked at as disrespectful to Morricone or any other fine composer. Just my observation, but why is he held above say, Zappa, Bach, Lennon/McCartney, etc.? People do variations or outright copies of their music. I find no offense in that. The only problem I have is when these no talent, no imagination ass clowns sample the music and put it in their hip hop bullshit "music." I also find no problem with labeling something "spaghetti western." To me it's just a label for a sub-genre of surf music. It's all (surf/spy/spaghetti/tiki, etc.) just rock and roll when you really look at it!

It isn't disrespect to Morricone or any of the composers. It is calling it spaghetti western and a lot of the music not even getting close to the sound. It is like people didn't actually listen to the music or think about it. They just found a tone and thought it was "cool". When creating music I'd ask the question "Is that really enough?" I don't feel that this disrespects the composer, it is just something that frustrates me because it could be a whole lot better.

I wouldn't ask anybody to hold him above Zappa, Bach, Lennon-McCartney. But those genres are very important, instro guitarists don't try and cop Bach, Zappa, Lennon-McCartney for THEIR SOUND. Again, it is a matter of trying to steal the sound without understand the music, the orchestration, why it is good. Personally, I'm just talking about the bad examples. My goal is not to be correct on a global level about this music, just to challenge people to think about their spaghetti western compositions.

It's all (surf/spy/spaghetti/tiki, etc.) just rock and roll when you really look at it!

I highly disagree here! Rock and roll is stupid, it was perverted many decades ago into an unrecognizable form. Have guitars!? Rock and Roll! Genres be damned, good music is good music.

Then, and this gets back to the question, "What is Spaghetti Western Music?" what are the fundamental musical elements that distinguish this form of instrumental music from others? I'd leave orchestration out of it for now (or is it a fundamental?) because surf bands don't usually have full orchestras at their disposal. What creates the unique (if it is) feel? Harmony? Tempo? Melody? Key? What are the elements of a tune that cause people to say, "that's spaghetti" instead of, "that's spy"?

For the record, though the term was originally coined by film critics to disparage the films, I think Spaghetti Western has become complimentary over time.

And, I want to be fair to everyone who tries to write and play this form of music. How often doea a great genius come along and create music that owes nothing to what came before? Or even just change things in ways to create something that sounds different enough to be considered new?

This is Noel. Reverb's at maximum an' I'm givin' 'er all she's got.

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