"Play it again, Sam..." - The John Barry Appreciation Thread

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  • w2bondw2bond is indeed a very rare breed
    Posts: 2,252
    Only two pages of comments?! Blasphemy!!
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    John Barry was simply fantastic ! I believe his music helped in the success of the film series. So many brilliant scores and not just for Bond. Out of Africa, Dances with wolves and The Black Hole, even the music to the 77 remake of King Kong is beautiful. Personally I love his use of strings and brass. !
    To Quite Armageddon " He the Man" ^:)^ He'll never be replaced and will always be greatly missed.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    edited November 2014 Posts: 23,883
    I'm not musically trained, so it's difficult to express what I feel when hearing a Barry track or theme. I just know it when I hear it. It's distinctive and very listenable to my ears. His soundtracks are in my car and I never tire of them.

    I realized lately why that is. Someone on this forum with more musical knowledge than me mentioned 'melody'. I looked it up and now I get it. Wikipedia definition follows:

    "...is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color. It may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.........Melodies often consist of one or more musical phrases or motifs, and are usually repeated throughout a composition in various forms"


    Relistening to his compositions, even the smallest ones in the most inconsequential scenes, I now notice that there is melody. There is some discernable 'sense, structure or coherence' to it in my ears that is essentially hummable. It does not come across as 'random jumbled noise' which a lot of other composer's work does. He was able to retain finessed compositional clarity even in the most action oriented scenes without resorting to excess. Most other composer's action oriented work just descends into 'loud unstructured noise' for me. Arnold in particular was guilty of this most of the time for me, but not always.... Barry's action scores were almost delicate to my ears, like a fine scalpel to the eardrum rather than a mallet. There is a definite subtlety to it.

    I believe his genius was the sheer number of different melodies he created. Even the much touted Hans Zimmer only has a few similar sounding melodies that he tends to reuse in many of his movies (Inception is very similar to Da Vinci Code which is similar to Batman).

    Barry just came up with intricate, new, hummable melodies everywhere.

    Additionally, I loved how he brought elements, or themes of the movie to his compositions. Goldfinger's score is similar to 'gold bars' being clanged together in some action parts. Thunderball's score does sound like 'streaming water' in some bits, which matches the many subterranean scenes. Diamonds are Forever sounds sharp, like a 'sparkly, shiny diamond.' The Cotton Club sounds 'jazzy/breezy'. Zulu sounds 'African'. Moonraker sounds 'grand, spacious & open', like space itself..

    As I've said before. Simply a genius. The only composer who I'd mention in the same breadth (and he's still not a patch on Barry to me) is Jerry Goldsmith or maybe Howard Shore for his original Lord of the Rings trilogy.
  • I've noticed Barry's A to B themes are good, where a character is travelling, often at their leisure. Out of Africa is like that - the train in the intro, then the biplane, so is Eleanor's Arrival in The Lion in Winter, and lots of Bond stuff; Arrival at Drax's Chateau (not on the soundtrack grrr), the Orient Express violins (ditto, grrr), Bond in the Alps tailing Goldfinger and Flight into Space. There are others in this bracket of course.
  • Posts: 11,425
    He was a genius basically. A one of a kind. His compositions are works of art. No one around currently really comes close. I have enjoyed many of Hans Zimmer's scores, who I think is generally excellent, but he can't hand a candle to Barry for the number and beauty of his original themes. Zimmer does mood very well, and seems happy to collaborate with other artists, which is why I'd like him to do a Bond. But watching a bit of Inception the other day I found his action score painful. Just made me thing how much better Barry was.
  • Posts: 11,189
    He wasnt all that.

    Just kidding :p
  • Posts: 11,425
    BAIN123 wrote: »
    He wasnt all that.

    Just kidding :p

    It's quite depressing to think that we will quite possibly never have another Bond score that really measures up to Barry.
  • Posts: 11,189
    No we won't. Barry set the bar very high.

    Personally I still think OHMSS and MR are his best 2 scores.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    I'd agree, two great scores. :)
  • Posts: 11,189
    I know this sounds bad but...

    I don't rate his DAF score as highly as others.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Quickly disagreeing. ;)
    I love the theme song and think it has some brilliant tracks.
  • Posts: 11,189
    It's good...but I prefer tracks to GF, YOLT, AVTAK and TLD. I'd listen to those before DAF.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,698
    Personally, I think Barry's worst soundtrack is TMWTGG.
    Here are my ratings- you'll find them very uneven I think:
    FRWL 9.7
    GF 10
    TB 9.9
    YOLT 10
    OHMSS 10
    DAF 9.9
    TMWTGG 9.3
    MR 10
    OP 10
    AVTAK 9.7
    TLD 10
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    I remember reading even J Barry thought TMWTGG was weak but he only got the gig very late so only had nine weeks or so to do the whole film.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,698
    DrGorner wrote: »
    I remember reading even J Barry thought TMWTGG was weak but he only got the gig very late so only had nine weeks or so to do the whole film.
    Hence my incredibly low rating of 9.3 (that's low for Barry :)) ).
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    :))
  • Posts: 11,189
    MWTGG is one I'm admittedly not too fond of. It's just...so-so to me.
  • bondjamesbondjames You were expecting someone else?
    Posts: 23,883
    I actually liked TMWTGG although it was no where near his best.

    It was quite brassy, if that's the correct word, and some of its motifs were used again in OP, almost as if Barry felt his ideas needed to be completed.
  • edited November 2014 Posts: 11,189
    It's not really one I'd want to go back to and listen to casually if I'm being honest. Yeah there are a few nice moments but I think of it as a little bland overall.

    I don't like saying that about the Master but I suppose everyone does weaker stuff once and a while.
  • w2bondw2bond is indeed a very rare breed
    Posts: 2,252
    bondjames wrote: »
    I'm not musically trained, so it's difficult to express what I feel when hearing a Barry track or theme. I just know it when I hear it. It's distinctive and very listenable to my ears. His soundtracks are in my car and I never tire of them.

    I realized lately why that is. Someone on this forum with more musical knowledge than me mentioned 'melody'. I looked it up and now I get it. Wikipedia definition follows:

    "...is a linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal sense, a melody is a combination of pitch and rhythm, while more figuratively, the term can include successions of other musical elements such as tonal color. It may be considered the foreground to the background accompaniment. A line or part need not be a foreground melody.........Melodies often consist of one or more musical phrases or motifs, and are usually repeated throughout a composition in various forms"


    Relistening to his compositions, even the smallest ones in the most inconsequential scenes, I now notice that there is melody. There is some discernable 'sense, structure or coherence' to it in my ears that is essentially hummable. It does not come across as 'random jumbled noise' which a lot of other composer's work does. He was able to retain finessed compositional clarity even in the most action oriented scenes without resorting to excess. Most other composer's action oriented work just descends into 'loud unstructured noise' for me. Arnold in particular was guilty of this most of the time for me, but not always.... Barry's action scores were almost delicate to my ears, like a fine scalpel to the eardrum rather than a mallet. There is a definite subtlety to it.

    I believe his genius was the sheer number of different melodies he created. Even the much touted Hans Zimmer only has a few similar sounding melodies that he tends to reuse in many of his movies (Inception is very similar to Da Vinci Code which is similar to Batman).

    Barry just came up with intricate, new, hummable melodies everywhere.

    Additionally, I loved how he brought elements, or themes of the movie to his compositions. Goldfinger's score is similar to 'gold bars' being clanged together in some action parts. Thunderball's score does sound like 'streaming water' in some bits, which matches the many subterranean scenes. Diamonds are Forever sounds sharp, like a 'sparkly, shiny diamond.' The Cotton Club sounds 'jazzy/breezy'. Zulu sounds 'African'. Moonraker sounds 'grand, spacious & open', like space itself..

    As I've said before. Simply a genius. The only composer who I'd mention in the same breadth (and he's still not a patch on Barry to me) is Jerry Goldsmith or maybe Howard Shore for his original Lord of the Rings trilogy.

    ^This just about sums it up!! Listen to a few notes and you'll instantly identify the movie. They are very hummable indeed and give each film its own identity. The score alone elevates a few movies rankings for me (eg AVTAK). I don't think Barry was given enough credit for these incredible masterpieces
  • edited November 2014 Posts: 11,189


    I could listen to this for ages on repeat.

    There's something very nostalgic about this particular track.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    I always thought AVTAK had a OHMSS feel about it, probably the bass line used in "He's Dangerous ".
  • Posts: 11,425
    BAIN123 wrote: »


    I could listen to this for ages on repeat.

    There's something very nostalgic about this particular track.

    Truly wonderful. Like George Martin as the fifth Beatle, Barry was the invisible, almost indispensable member of the team. Whenever he was involved the films gain an extra, incredibly rich dimension. He elevates what might sometimes have been rather ordinary to the extraordinary.

    The AVTAK theme is beautiful and very evocative.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    Barry's music added a sense of class to any film it was used in. In fact any
    Top Gear fans will hear loads of snippets of his and other Bond films on many
    of their filming reports. :)
  • Posts: 11,425
    DrGorner wrote: »
    Barry's music added a sense of class to any film it was used in. In fact any
    Top Gear fans will hear loads of snippets of his and other Bond films on many
    of their filming reports. :)

    That explains why Top Gear feels so classy ;)
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    :)) it's fun to pick out the Bond films and the music they're using. Like
    When they had an airship coming out of the big shed they played the
    " Space Capsule " music from YOLT.
  • edited November 2014 Posts: 11,189
    Although I (now) regard AVTAK as a pretty poor bottom 5 film I will confess that "Wine with Stacy" is very moving and evocative. I actually played it to myself shortly after my grandad passed away in September. It's soothing and relaxing and as I said further up has a whiff of nostalgia to it.

    But then again I defend the GE soundtrack (or at least parts of it) so what do I know ;)
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy My Secret Lair
    Posts: 13,384
    In his work there are some very atmospheric / emotional pieces
    Of music.
  • Posts: 1,146
    cut # 20 from OHMSS is just phenomenal, listened to it on the way in to work today.
  • PropertyOfALadyPropertyOfALady Colders Federation CEO
    Posts: 3,675
    I listened to A View to A Kill suite through headphones (cheap ones) and when it got to the part that played as Bond was carrying Stacy out of San Francisco City Hall it gave me shivers! Well done, Mr Barry.
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