“Tell them to let it swing”

Todd Decker

in Music Makes Me

Published by University of California Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780520268883
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520950061 | DOI:
“Tell them to let it swing”

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The production of musical films brought together two normally separate studio departments: writers in the writing department conceived of the story and wrote the dialogue; composers, lyricists, dance directors, arrangers, and orchestrators loosely allied in an expanded music department created the musical numbers. Scripts were the blueprints for the studio system production process. Beyond the final shooting script, draft scripts, outlines, and treatments afford glimpses of the writing and filmmaking process. Archival evidence from the music departments comes in two types: a variety of lists (such as rundowns of musical numbers made for budgeting purposes, recording session schedules, and lists of musical cues and songs used) and musical scores (mostly arrangers' full scores and conductors' short scores). This chapter shows how the musical content of Fred Astaire's routines was understood by the creative figures charged with describing films in words before the cameras started rolling. Along the way, the word choices of several of Astaire's lyricists also come into play.

Keywords: Fred Astaire; musical films; writers; lyricists; music departments; filmmaking; musical scores; musical numbers

Chapter.  5068 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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