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Earth II Daily Music Report

I’ve talked about the “Daily Music Report” that was part of M-G-M’s music scoring paperwork from the 1930s through the 1970s. This is an essential piece of studio documentation that was provided to us when we were doing CDs from the historical M-G-M film library.

Here is page one of the DMR to Earth II, a TV movie scored by Lalo Schifrin which I included on our TV Omnibus 5CD set of rare M-G-M TV music.

Earth II was kind of a 2001/Star Trek knock-off starring Gary Lockwood (natch) and I asked Lockwood once about it—he’s a convention fixture—and he sort of rolled his eyes and mocked it. It’s unfortunately pretty dull (try it yourself on Vudu) but the sets and effects are super impressive for television—an inspiration for that indie goof on 1970s sci-fi from a few years ago, Space Station 76. Here’s a little more about it. Earth II was meant to be a pilot for a series, which never happened. They sincerely tried to handle space travel realistically, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey, but made the “action,” as it were, glacially slow.

Lalo’s score has a terrific, poppy-symphonic main theme and a lot of weird, ambient material for the underscore. Lalo likes to say he went from being typecast as the “jazz composer” to the “weird composer” thanks to things like this, THX 1138 and The Hellstrom Chronicles.

The paperwork: it’s pretty easy to understand. M-G-M scores were recorded starting with the number 2501. (If there were “pre-records,” for playback on set like for a musical, they started with 2001. Dub-downs/mixes of “pre-records” were slated 2401.)

Take number, that’s self-explanatory. Title is self-explanatory. The dash-number after the title is the number of the composition, in the order as created by the composer, so that the cue title could be connected to the physical orchestrations and parts for the musicians.

The “Wild Piano” and “Wild Yamaha” at the bottom, without timings or reel and part numbers, is when they would just mess around on the scoring stage to try and get interesting effects for overdubs, stings or sound montages. “Wild” means untimed and not synchronized to picture.

Timing is self-explanatory. The reel and part is easy to understand: these were production reels, so a 90-minute movie would be broken into 9 or 10 reels for purposes of making the darn thing. The cue “Lisa Karger” was the fourth piece of music (actually, probably, the fifth, with the “A” added to indicate it followed another piece) in the ninth production reel.

“Spacecraft” is listed as 1/1–2/1, which is a little confusing: that is actually meant to be 1M1/2M1, meaning it starts at the end of reel 1 (which it was the first and only piece of music) and concludes in reel 2 (which it was the first piece of music).

Composer is self-explanatory. And so is the size of the orchestra—or in this case, ensemble, as the first day of recording used a very small group. On this project, for whatever reason, Lalo did one day of recording on February 8, 1971 and came back on March 16 and 18 with a bigger group (30+ pieces) for the rest of the score.

A few cues were recorded in dual versions as the production was intended both as a pilot for American television (requiring transitions in and out of commercials) and a feature film in Europe. I think we used some versions of both on the CD.

When the zombie apocalypse rolls around, we’ll still have copies of the TV Omnibus in stock at Screen Archives if you want to check it out!

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