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Ride the High Country Cues

Here’s a random scan from the FSM “physical archives,” which is the digital folder I created from several dozens of bankers boxes of documents that I scanned in 2014.

This is my album sequence for Ride the High Country (on a CD with another George Bassman western score, Mail Order Bride). The Sam Peckinpah film is a masterpiece; the score, by Bassman, is incongruously cheerful and traditional, and miles from the dark, brooding, complicated strains that Jerry Fielding later brought to Peckinpah’s films. But it is important, and I’m glad we released it from the M-G-M vaults.

The left column are the slate numbers. At M-G-M, for most of the 1930s through the late 1960s, they used a nomenclature where the score started recording with the number 2501. (As you can see, the score was recorded completely out of order, which was typical.) The number after the dash is the take number. Beside that are the title, the reel and part number (2–3 is the second reel of the film, and the third piece of music in that reel), and the cue’s runtime (taken from the “DMR,” the Daily Music Report).

On the left are my brackets and notes to join short cues into longer tracks, so the album wouldn’t have a few dozen teeny-tiny tracks. (Some album producers like to leave all those short cues as their own tracks, but I didn’t.) My little note “creative” means it was up to the mastering engineer, Doug Schwartz, to place the two cues together. (This had to be planned at the mixing stage—even though we were just mixing three channels down to two, it had to be mixed carefully—so that the cue did not fade to “digital black.” Digital black is total silence—like at the end of a track, the stage noise and ambiance fades out along with the music. But for cues that were to be joined to another piece, we would leave the ambiance after the music ends so the track felt more like a continuous piece of music.) When there is a time listed, that was the reference to the film itself, so the segue would match what was in the film (although we’d tweak it if the film edit was not particularly musical).

The text “fight in cafe tracked?” was my observation that there’s a piece of music in the beginning of the film that’s not in the score as recorded (and thus not on the CD), because it was evidently tracked from elsewhere in the score. We typically did not recreate those uses for the CD, although sometimes we did if it was for a really important moment, or manipulated editorially to sound like a different piece of music.

At the bottom, it looks like I jotted down the quotation from the film to use on the back tray—a small part of our packaging that I thought would be cute, but ended up being a pain from time to time, as it became yet another task to accomplish during the production process. I just checked the back tray card, however, and we ended up using the film’s more famous biblical quotation, “All I want is to enter my house justified.” Indeed!

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