Forays Into Film Music circa 1971

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It was my good fortune to have been mentored by Tom McIntosh, among others.  Mac was a marvelous composer and trombonist.  In the early 1970s Mac was hired as the technical assistant to composer Isaac Hayes in the creation of the score to “Shaft.”  It was a huge hit for MGM.  Hayes was known as a “hummer.”  He would hum his musical ideas to Mac.  Mac would write them down and then make them work for the film by virtue of his orchestrating, arranging and composing the necessary “connecting tissue.”  He was largely uncredited for this, nor was his name mentioned when the soundtrack won a Grammy and the title song won an Oscar.

Mac took me to Earle Hagen’s house where Earle taught film scoring.  The price of admission was gifting Earle with one golf ball.  I learned how to use a cue sheet for setting up a bar breakdown and to determine the optimum tempo before writing a single note.  Mac let me use a few cue sheets from “Shaft” to practice what I was learning.

A few days ago, I came across the scores from these practice sessions.  At the time, I never expected to hear this music realized.  But now, equipped with a home studio, I entered the notes into my digital audio workstation and here is the result–over 50 years later!


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