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The Music of Movietonews

Movietonews had an advantage in that, before the war and during the war, they had access to the Movietone Music Corporation music library.  Much of this material emanated from 20th Century Fox movies.

The famous 20th Century Fox opening fanfare was written by Alfred Newman, father of the Newman dynasty that is still producing music for the movies.  Alfred Newman was nominated forty-five times for an Academy Award. He won nine Oscars.

Movietonews used the same 20th Century Fox fanfare for its opening.

After the war, music publishers in London found that there was a large requirement for Mood Music within the film and radio industry in London.

Chappells were at the forefront of this music industry together with Paxton, Star Sound Studios, De Wolfe, Boosey and Hawkes and Bosworth.

Chappells and Boosey and Hawkes had been recording music for a long time, but it was in the late forties that organised mood-music for radio and television came to the fore.

Chappells were, and still are, in Bond Street, while some of the others were housed in Denmark Street, off Charing Cross Road, sometimes referred top as Britain’s “Tin Pan Alley”.  Stan Wicken, Movietone’s music/sound editor, got to know many of the authors of this music.

They became his drinking pals and could be seen at lunch times in the “Pillars of Hercules” in Greek Street.  One of the most famous of these was Bob Farnon the prolific Canadian writer of music for films.

The authors would discuss Stan’s requirements with him and in a short time, the publisher would come up with discs of the music that resulted from the conversations.  Sometimes, they did not bother to produce labels to go on the discs in order to release them quickly.

Once the music had been chosen for General Release items, it was necessary to inform The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society (M.C.P.S.) of the usage.  A “Music Cue Sheet” was completed which noted the name of the piece of music used, its publisher and its author.  At that time, all that was asked about usage was whether it was “partial” or “entire”.

In the forties, the fees for the use of music, in the newsreels, were very low and I wondered, then, how the authors got to make a living when they received what was left of the fee.

I suppose it would have been enough for a couple of pints in “The Pillars of Hercules”.

© Terence Gallacher and terencegallacher.com, 2010.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and terencegallacher.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For other articles about Movietone click here.

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