The music of GORGO

To go with the upbeat ending of the story, composer Angelo Francesco Lavagnino wrote one of the loveliest melodies to ever grace a monster movie.  What’s more, this theme is usually played on accordion, and while at first that might seem to be an error in judgment, it is quite logical, as the concertina -- a form of accordion -- is the unofficial instrument of the sea, perfect for a marine beast like Gorgo.

Gorgo’s orchestration is prominent in the brass, featuring up to 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, and a tuba, as well as a healthy dose of organ and colorful effects from vibraphone, harp, and xylophone, something common in Lavagnino’s scores.  Interestingly, there is no oboe in Gorgo, and whether this was due to budgetary considerations or because this plaintive instrument might have added a bittersweet tinge to this otherwise positive score, we’ll probably never know.  Lavagnino also used an extremely small string section, and because of the low number of violins, the composer had the violas playing high in their range.  As the sketches and full scores are in Lavagnino’s handwriting, it would appear as if he did his own orchestrations, and anyone familiar with this unjustly-overlooked composer will recognize his distinct orchestral sound.  Gorgo’s score was conducted by the esteemed Muir Mathieson, who provides the appropriate sense of grandeur.

Not only did the producers unmercifully edit Gorgo when Lourie finished it, but Lavagnino’s score was also ripped to shreds, with whole cues dropped from the film, others drastically reduced in length, and too many of them drowned out by unbearably loud and unremitting sound effects.  Lavagnino said he was asked to write a lot of music for the film, so he must have been discouraged when much of what he provided was later excised.  The music listed on the cue sheets bears little resemblance to what’s in the film, which implies that the movie’s soundtrack was edited even after the cue sheets were compiled.  Of the 47 minutes on the cue sheets (which is only part of what Lavagnino composed), about 37 minutes remain in the released picture. 


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