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Who are your favorite Dallas composers?

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by Taylor Bennett Jr., Sep 27, 2019.

  1. Taylor Bennett Jr.

    Taylor Bennett Jr. Soap Chat Dream Maker EXP: 1 Year

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    There's of course Jerold Immel who did the theme and some of the early episodes (they use a couple of his moments from the miniseries several seasons into the show every now and then), and Bruce Broughton gets lots of accolades in the peak middle seasons.

    One from the early seasons who often catches my ear is Richard Lewis Warren. When I hear something that catches my attention, often string writing, I'll occasionally head over to imdb to see who wrote the score - and more often than not, that's who it was. I think maybe 'Double Wedding' is his first appearance, and one sequence that's always jumped out at me is the string flourish as Amanda runs over to Bobby, mistaking him for Jock in The Wheeler Dealer.

    John Parker, on the other hand is hit and miss (mostly miss) for me. I like a couple of his character themes here and there, and the guitar and snare drum during Jock's showdown with Tom Owens in The Dove Hunt was fantastic, but too often his scores with the electric bass and drums sound like something from a generic 70s cop show instead of a drama - far more 'throwaway' and less 'rich' than what Warren comes up with, usually.

    Any other favorites out there?
     
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  2. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle EXP: 19 Years

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    In descending order:

    Bruce Broughton
    Richard Lewis Warren
    Jerrold Immel
    Lance Rubin (but his dirges were sometimes overused like in the dream season)
    Angela Morley (sometimes quite good, but often repetitive)
    John Parker (some of his native-American scores for early DALLAS were just fine, but the full-on cornpone country jazz mania didn't work terribly well for me)

     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2019
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  3. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    My favorite is Bruce Broughton, especially because every score he did was unique, and didn´t bring back memories of being heard in other episodes, as did Lance Rubin and Jerrold Immel. Broughton managed to capture the feel of the show very early on (I´m thinking about "Sue Ellen´s Sister"...) by uniting updated western styles with really urban 80s music. Here´s a sample I did of his better soundtracks:


    Broughton is partly responsible of "Dallas" becoming a "cinematic experience" instead of just a nighttime soap. From Season 6 on (and the other series following its steps), the producers hired people with movie experience and quality to spare: DOP Bradford May, designer Travilla, stunt casting, etc. (some luckier than others).

    Richard Lewis Warren was the perfect choice to alternate with BB´s music: he used cinematic compositions too, but very adequate for the soap opera genre too, and remarkable when emotions ran high. I read in an interview that he used to get his inspiration in the works of Bernard Herrmann, as many of you must already know, was one of Hitchcock´s better composers. The score to the Who Shot Bobby? cliffhanger is a good proof of that.

    Jerrold Immel employed most of his early scores on and on until that pivotal episode "Killer at Large". As we discussed here recently, this episode marked the beginning of the end in many senses for the classic "Dallas", especially writing-wise, but Immel wrote a majestic, suspenseful score that would have improved the Who Shot J.R. episodes (which had that horrendous archive cues...). Too bad that Immel re-used those new themes over and over, including both TVM´s. Especially the music we could hear in Pam´s nearly-accident in the Dream Season...

    About Lance Rubin, he reached perfection in "Swan Song". You couldn´t improve that and less for a TV series. But he was as recognizable as Immel or Parker when the episode started. That didn´t happen with Broughton, Warren or even Angela Morley. Morley and Rubin made the mistake of also writing scores for "Knots Landing" and "Dynasty", so they weren´t really original when we heard them on "Dallas" but they worked so much better in it!

    Parker was ok during the first 2 years, but he should have kept on writing new themes. Well, he did, but the B.D. Calhoun march and Cally´s Haleyville theme weren´t too memorable...Funnily enough, he sort of changed his style and reinvented himself in the last season, especially in the Paris episodes, with a more contemporary score for the early 90s.

    You can remember some of their scores in my "Dallas" music list:
    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLV3YZhDoD9ZkW3N6MbJzt2W6kE09QBxSP
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2019
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  4. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle EXP: 19 Years

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    Music is so important to the identity of any twentieth century TV series. And while the producer doesn't write them, he has to sign off on them and, before that, let the composer know what general feel he needs from the scores.

    And that was one of the many shortcomings from the DYNASTY producers --- around Season 3 of that show, they decided the actors had to be stiff as mannequins, that the dialogue had to be more florid yet less character-or-plot based, and that the musical cues needed to be more like the autonomous and rambling woodwind scores you used to hear in late-1930s Old Hollywood movies (which Old Hollywood wisely dumped by the '40s) which caused the DYNASTY scenes, already increasingly stilted and unfocused due to the muddled scripting and static acting directive, to feel even clunkier and lacking in direction. Much of the time, the music really did feel just obligatory monotonous and small.

    Funny you should word it that way, because whenever I see "Sue Ellen's Sister" it's always made me think of breezy late-'70s stuff.

    Parker did some wonderful, award-winning stuff on GUNSMOKE when he also worked with Leonard Katzman, scores which were heavily Native American influenced. You could feel some of that in "Winds of Vengeance" and "Barbecue" on DALLAS. But his compositions just kept wackier and wackier.

    Parker was gone from 1982 to 1986, before Katzman brought him back. Can we imagine the fight over Jock's Will with a hyper-jazzy background score from John Parker??

    Capice may have fired Parker for 4 years, but he also fired the show's main composer, Jerrold Immel, because he used Spanish guitar in Bobby's funeral episode and Capice didn't like it. Katzman brought Immel back a year later when Bobby was revived, but apparently fired him himself sometime later!
     
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  5. garry

    garry Soap Chat Active Member EXP: 17 Years

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    Parker was never fired from Dallas. He left to become the main composer on Trapper John M.D. He returned to Dallas (unfortunately) after that series was cancelled in 1986.

    Immel was fired twice by Capice. Once in 1983 over his score where Ray pulls the plug on Mickey Trotter and again in 1985 over his choice of instruments for his two scores for the Dream Season. Crazy reasons!

    Richard Lewis Warren


    Lance Rubin


    John Parker


    John Parker
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRqWcdUYqzY&t=9s
     
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  6. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle EXP: 19 Years

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    Thanks! Mysteries solved and corrected!
     
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  7. Laurie Marr

    Laurie Marr Soap Chat Active Member

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    The theme from the first 25 seconds of this clip (there are better examples out there somewhere - the preceding few minutes from the episode showcase it better) was a regular feature of Season 6 and 7. It is, to my ears, the most haunting and effective piece of incidental music from the entire series. I still find myself humming it nearly 40 years later. It’s also terribly sad.
     
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  8. Laurie Marr

    Laurie Marr Soap Chat Active Member

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    Forgot to post the link. Doh!
     
  9. Toni

    Toni Soap Chat Mega Star EXP: 18 Years

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    You can also listen to a few more variants of this theme (which I like to call "Sue Ellen´s Blues") in the first minutes of this compilation:

     
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  10. Laurie Marr

    Laurie Marr Soap Chat Active Member

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    Thank you. It’s such a beautiful theme.
     
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