Television's Music Men

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"Exclusive" Report From Hollywood from the New Zealand TV Weekly.

tv_scores_studio_orchestra.jpg - 177.2 KBFiguratively speaking, much of Television's theme and background music folls on deaf ears. The constant ebb and flow of music to emphasise sfory developments, though, requires not only inspired thought and assembly-line techniques in its production, if has become on essential occoutrement to every TV show.

There's a lot of good music being heard on TV. a noted Television critic declared recently. The viewers may not always be aware of the music they hear as a Television show unfolds. but it does tend to stick in the sub-conscious . .

The men who make the music for TV are olten more interesting than the stars they're composing for. Many of them are old pros who've arranged musical scores for films and TV shows with many a famous star.

Nelson Riddle, Jerry Goldsmith, Harry Sukman, David Rose, Jeff Alexander, Lalo Schifrin, Alexander Courage, Wilbur Hutch and Jerr Fielding are among the top composers working on TV series at the moment, and there are few stars who don't feel a certain amount of gratitude when one of these men is assigned to their show.

As a singer as well as an actress, declares Diahann Carroll of the Julia series, I realise the importance of music very well indeed. And I think our Jeff Alexander is tops.

Each week, he comes up with music that's just right to fit the various moods of the show. When I think of our show without music, I know it just wouldn't be the same. Music has a way of heightening emotions and moods and words. . .

Genius is Needed

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Composer-conductor Jeff Alexander irons out final detail of the music score for an episode of the series, Julie
Jeff Alexander, the man who writes the music for Julia and then leads an orchestra through the score as a new episode of Julia is shown on a screen, is typical of the music men most in demand. He's a solid professional, points out a spokesman for 20th Century-Fox Studios. With the fast pace of TV, you need a music man who never runs out of inspiration, a man who can compose a musical theme at the drop of a hat.

There's no room for slow, temperamental men. You need a genius, and that's what we've got in Jeff.

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Jeff Alexander explains what is required as the film to be scored is screened behind him.>
The genial, bearded Alexander has worked with everyone from Frank Sinatra to Debbie Reynolds and Elvis Presley in films and on records. He also has written music for Mannix, Valentine's Day, The Lieutenant and several other TV series.

Harry Sukman is another composer who rates a genius label from the TV producers who've worked with him. Harry's the music man for the High Chaparral series. He writes original music for some 26 episodes of the series each TV production season. That amounts to between 20 and 30 minutes of music a show - a formidable output as any musically knowledgeable person will realise.

How does Sukman Work?

Usually, each episode of High Chaparral is scored eight to ten weeks ahead of its original screening date in America, Sukman explains. I see each episode twice before I sit down and get to Work on the music.

The first time I see a show, I just let it settle into my sub-conscious....