Composers, arrangers, conductors, session musicians, and executives worked in easy listening and scoring, complicating an academic focus that lionizes film music while ignoring or deriding easy listening. This book documents easy listening’s connections with film music, an aspect overlooked in academic and popular literature.
Fueled by the rise of the LP and home entertainment, easy listening became the largest midcentury commercial music market, generating more actual income for the record business than 7- inch singles. Easy listening roped in subgenres including classical, baroque, jazz, Latin, Polynesian, "exotica," rock, Broadway, and R&B, appropriated and reinterpreted just as they were for cinema. Easy listening provided opportunities in orchestral music for conservatory- trained composers. Major film composers such as Henry Mancini and Michel Legrand had a prodigious output of easy listening albums.
Critics fault easy listening for structural racisms, overlooking its evolution and practitioners. Easy listening helped destabilize a tripartite record business that categorized product as race records, old time records, or general popular music. Charlie Parker’s with Strings records altered the direction of jazz, profoundly influencing other performers, encouraging bold crosspollinations, and making money.
The influence of technology and historical contexts of music for work and leisure are explored. Original interviews and primary sources will fascinate scholars, historians, and students of cinema, television, film scoring, and midcentury popular music.
Table of Contents
1 Introduction: Easy Listening and Film Scoring as Opportunities for Midcentury Composers and Arrangers
2 Music for Leisure, Music for Work: From a Conceptual Past to the LP, Stereo, and Multichannel Sound
3 Race and Easy Listening
4 Stylistic Subgenres of Easy Listening: The Cult of Bach, the Harpsichord Fetish,
and the Baroque
5 The Named and the Nameless: Easy Listening from the Anonymous to the Beatles
6 Henry Mancini: Songwriter, Star Commodity, Purveyor of Easy Listening
7 Michel Legrand: Le Jazzman et le baroque
8 The Endless Space Age: Easy Listening 1948-78 as Precursor to Musical Futures
Jack Curtis Dubowsky is a composer, author, music editor, educator, and filmmaker. Books include Intersecting Film, Music, and Queerness. Dubowsky is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Recording Academy, the Motion Picture Editors Guild, and a fellow of the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.