Most films have their composers put music to images far into post-production. These days, temp tracks are common right until the last possible moment. But such was Leone’s faith in his collaboration with Morricone, which had already spawned the hit ‘Dollars’ trilogy, he had him compose the key themes before filming – and played the music during the shoot in order to inspire his cast.
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Do they work, these string-quartet arrangements? Oh, yes. They make the preludes and fugues different (I think they are keyboard works, fundamentally). But Bach is still Bach. He is always Bach, no matter what you do to him. When the Swingle Singers sing him, he is Bach. When you bang him on a can, he remains Bach. He will always out, always.
I think The Well-Tempered Clavier is one of the most miraculous things ever to appear on earth—and that the hand that wrote them was scarcely human.