John Barry

John Barry
John Barry (Prendergast) (1933-2011)

I don’t think you can produce something with real character and feeling unless you do it yourself.

John Barry

The film and television music of John Barry from 1963 to 1981 has had a profound and effective influence on me. Hearing Barry’s work decided me on composing music for film when I was nine years old. The excitement of James Bond’s early screen life was conveyed in crucial part by the ‘million-dollar Mickey Mouse music’ that accompanied the spy. I loved the combination of synthesizer, cymbalom and Finnish kantele in Barry’s title music for The Persuaders (1971) and The Adventurer (1972).

Barry must have worked hard studying his Joseph Schillinger books and on his William Russo correspondence course. He gleaned much from Elmer Bernstein and 1950s’ Latin American band orchestration. In the cue What Did I Do Wrong? from the film The Chase (1966), Barry shifts (in the same woodwind line), between related aeolian and phygian scales, to bring a signature-haziness to his harmony.

Favourite scores? Too many to mention, except perhaps: From Russia with Love (1963), Seance on a Wet Afternoon (1964), Goldfinger (1964), King Rat (1965), The IPCRESS File (1965), The Quiller Memorandum (1966), The Whisperers (1967), Deadfall (1968), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) – the music for the safe-cracking scene (Gumbold’s Safe) in this film, is devastating and inspired in its simplicity, and Walkabout (1971).


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