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Celebrating 60 years of Morricone's music / Texas Public Radio

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With a whistle and a guitar, Ennio Morricone changed film and music history. Sergio Leone, a director with only one feature to his credit and a couple of gigs polishing up other pictures, called upon the composer to score his new-fangled Western, "A Fistful of Dollars," loosely based on the Akira Kurosawa film "Yojimbo," which itself was based on an American noir by Dashiell Hammett. The money for a full orchestra wasn't there, so Morricone improvised, scoring the tale of an outlaw who brings justice to a frontier town with a modest string section, Spanish-influenced flamenco trumpet, the twang of an electric guitar, and a grunting, chanting choir whose "We Can Fight!" cries were as down-and-dirty as the film's visual style, filled with sweeping vistas intercut with close-ups of sweaty faces. Morricone's music was so influential, that the default "Western" sound is no longer "The Magnificent Seven," but a twangy electric guitar.

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