Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2016 October 24 • Monday

The 436th Soundtrack of the Week brings us back to our favorite composer, Bernard Herrmann, and his score for the film Twisted Nerve.

This isn't one of Herrmann's best efforts and it's a not much of a movie either. Still, Herrmann is Herrmann and there are points of interest.

It's monothematic, like several soundtracks, but the "theme" here is little more than a riff, a childlike repetitive melody.

It achieved some measure of fame when Daryl Hannah whistled it in Kill Bill. And what was the point of her whistling it? Beats me.

But Herrmann's original score includes whistling, too, which made me wonder if Herrmann had noticed Ennio Morricone's scores for Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns.

After the first two Dollars (1964 and 1965) movies, which employ whistling as a lead instrument, Herrmann comes up with his whistling-driven Twisted Nerve (1968) theme.

And after Morricone makes the harmonica the voice of Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Herrmann uses harmonica as the lead instrument in his score for The Night Digger (1971).

And I believe that Herrmann's uses of whistling and harmonica are unique to those two movies.

Also of interest is the similarity between the Twisted Nerve theme and the repeated figure that dominates much of Roy Webb's score for Cat People (1942).

This is not an insinuation of plagiarism or anything like it. It's simply musing about influence and awareness.