Easy Listening and Film Scoring 1948-78

Jack Curtis Dubowsky

Easy Listening and Film Scoring 1948-78

Dubowsky Easy Listening Film Scoring Book Cover
Publisher site| Amazon |

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

CatSynthTV, Oct 23, 2022

Jack Curtis Dubowsky: Easy Listening and Film Scoring, Recent Albums, and more
We chat with composer, author, and filmmaker Jack Curtis Dubowsky about his recent work, including a new album of cinematic fragments for Hallowe'en and his recent book "Easy Listening and Film Scoring: 1948-78". Along the way, we touch in the connections between easy listening music of the mid 20th century and synthesizers, classical music, and jazz.


Sounding Cinema, June 16, 2022

Jack Curtis Dubowsky on the Legacy of Easy Listening in Film Music

Cecilia Kryzda and Nathan Platte talk with Jack Curtis Dubowsky about his recent book, Easy Listening and Film Scoring, 1948-1978 (Routledge, 2021). A composer, performer, and scholar, Jack illuminates the vast and underappreciated opportunities easy listening provided film composers and how certain styles and habits shaped later music and film practices. Jack also explains the process of writing the book, including his inspiration behind the project and how his vision for the book changed over time. To see Jack's film and album recommendations, visit here.


Popular Music Books in Process, October 18, 2021

This panel features discussions of two recently published books, John Howland's Hearing Luxe Pop: Glorification, Glamour, and the Middlebrow in American Popular Music (University of California Press, 2021) and Jack Dubowsky's Easy Listening and Film Scoring 1948-1978 (Routledge, 2021). The studies in these books intersect with each other across quite a number of midcentury - 1940s to 1970s - easy listening, orchestral pop, and Hollywood arranger-composer topics, and especially their interests in both American middlebrow culture and the business of show business.


British Audio-Visual Research Network, BARNVirtual, October 14, 2021

Jack Curtis Dubowsky (De Stijl Music): Easy Listening and Film Scoring 1948-78 [Book talk]

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