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The Bird With The Crystal Plumage score by Ennio Morricone

Record cover
The Bird With The Crystal Plumage

This iconic first collaboration between the Maestro and Dario Argento kicks off with Violenza Inattessa, a seemingly upbeat piece with an almost child-like chant over ringing chimes which add a sinister element - a feature of many of Morricone’s Giallo scores and used by a number of composers of the era, including Goblin in Argento’s Profondo Rosso (Deep Red). Drums, acoustic guitar and a male voice join in to lend an almost pastoral whimsy to the piece.

Morricone then changes gears with the melodic Bossa styled piece Non Rimane Pie Nessuno, with strings and voices again riding over the acoustic guitar and percussion. Many Giallo (and indeed Italian films at the time) featured these more upbeat passages in contrast to the darkness contained elsewhere. Such as the next piece, the experimental murder jazz of Corsa Sui Tetti where skittering drums and a descending motif mixes with horn stabs and the heavy anxious sound of a woman breathing which could be sexual or fearful (or both). Sinister be-bop at its best.

Svolta Drammatica is similar to the last piece, but slows things down to a haunting, creeping lilt—the drums dance beneath an insistent string section and discordant piano runs.

Fraseggio Senz Struttura ushers in an acoustic guitar motif and a wall of chimes to usher in the darkness for some uneasy listening. Silencio Nel Caos is a minimal bed of shimmering sounds—tinkling piano, chiming bells and that sinister baseline which is another prominent staple of the Giallo (and indeed Morricone’s) oeuvre.

Piume De Cristallo revisits the main theme for the conclusion of the film, adding a mournful tone to round out this stunning set from Maestro Morricone and another highly recommended listen for fans of the genre. Put the record on and be transported to the dark alleys of 1970s Roma filled mystery, danger, with knife wielding murderers and the bright red blood of the their victims.

* This article previously appeared in a newsletter.


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