Ennio Morricone's tips for writing iconic film music

9 November 2018, 13:57

Everyone knows a piece by Morricone – even if they don’t realise it. The theme from 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' and 'Gabriel's Oboe' are both his – and they're among the greatest pieces of film music ever written

Morricone is one of the legends of the musical world, and he's a true giant of film music. The music for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly became instantly iconic and set the template for all Westerns to come. 

In 2016, before the release of Quentin Tarantino's The Hateful Eight – for which Morricone wrote the score – we sat down with the composer to find out how you go about writing legendary film music.


First things first, how do you go about starting a film score?

It all starts with an idea, said Morricone: 

“Everything starts with an idea, it’s the first thing I look for… but you cannot stop at the very first idea. You have to go through and analyse all the different ideas and then try and find an idea that can be flexible and can be adapted to the film.”


What about melodies – where do you get your ideas from?

“When you go to the conservatory they don’t teach you how to write melody. When you write a melody you must pay a lot of attention to the intervals between the notes – each interval must be different from the previous one just to keep this idea of novelty within a melody.”


Which is Ennio Morricone's favourite Ennio Morricone film score?

“Sometimes my favourite ones are the ones that were most demanding for me to compose, or those for a film that I particularly cared for. Maybe they’re not the ones most appreciated by the audience, but I appreciate them because I had a hard time composing them.”


Ok and finally: Tarantino. How do you write the music for a Quentin T film?

“I tried to write a soundtrack that is unique to Tarantino, that is unique to his style as a filmmaker, and that suited the characters and story of the film.”

If you want to hear more, the soundtrack is available to pre-order on Amazon and iTunes