Ennio Morricone: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly


Ennio Morricone composed his highly popular soundtrack for the 1966 Western film, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and by 1968 the album was a big hitter in the charts. Regarded as Morricone’s most successful film soundtrack, the main titles of the film remains perhaps the most popular Western melody of all time. Morricone collaborated with director Sergio Leone with the main titles, with the two also collaborating on a number of other “Spaghetti Western” films. 


The Music

After a steady drum beat opens the main titles, the two-note famous melody that enters resembles the noise of a coyote. Leone wanted to add a number of different sounds to the theme to add a new dimension to it, thus whistling and rare instruments were put into the mix to create the memorable main theme. Each time the two-note theme is played it is said to resemble a different character from the film. Morricone achieves this by using different instruments to symbolise the change in character. 

As the music picks up the pace, Morricone utilises the percussion to drive the tempo forward. Singers also enter the texture with a call and response theme based on the opening two-note melody. The cacophony of sound is exciting and as the music builds traction more sections of the orchestra speak up, including a short brass fanfare section. After the theme is presented for a final time, the main titles die away into a quiet resolved string chord. 


Ⓒ Alex Burns

Happy Reading!

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