The Good, the gad and the groovy: Rediscovering the music of Hugo Montenegro

Jun 06, 2018 282

It was sometime in 1966 when Hugo Montenegro went into an RCA studio with some session musicians on a Saturday to do a cover of the theme from “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” Italian director Sergio Leone’s third installment of his “Dollars Trilogy” of spaghetti westerns. All three of the films had been scored by the prolific Italian composer Ennio Morricone.

The opening theme for this third film was particularly haunting — a two-note melody sounding like a whistled call across a desert landscape, followed by a variety of instruments evoking tumbleweeds, desolation, and violence. Montenegro added a stronger beat with strummed guitar chords to give the tune a poppier feel, with the opening melody played on an ocarina, and the response on a harmonica, with hand movements producing the wah-wah sound. 

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