What Else is Like the Peter Gunn Theme?
February 2, 2012 8:03 PM   Subscribe

The "Pink Panther" theme and the "Peter Gunn" theme are both jazz pieces created by Henry Mancini in the 1960's. But musically, how are they similar? If I add Lalo Schifrin's "Mission Impossible" theme ... is this a particular flavor or genre of jazz? If I like these as music, what other pieces (that are not necessarily theme songs) would I like?
posted by musofire to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
 
The theme from M Squad.
posted by timsteil at 8:10 PM on February 2, 2012


Have you heard of the James Taylor Quartet? (And no, it's not "Sweet Baby James" James Taylor.)

If you like that, you might want to check out the genre of Acid Jazz... it's more modern than Henry Mancini, but it harkens back to the kind of 60's instrumentals you listed.
posted by crunchland at 8:40 PM on February 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could it be the big band sound you are hearing?
posted by gjc at 8:40 PM on February 2, 2012


Crime jazz, crime jazz, crime jazz.
posted by circular at 8:43 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I actually like all of the music on the Original Peter Gunn album. I was just humming "Sorta Blue" today, in fact.
posted by nightwood at 8:46 PM on February 2, 2012


BTW, check out some of these playlists, you might find more that you like. http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=crime+jazz%2C+playlist
posted by circular at 8:57 PM on February 2, 2012


David Smay calls it Spy Jazz and has some recommended recordings.
posted by Scram at 9:08 PM on February 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


While I don't think it's an actual genre, I've never heard a better description than "crime jazz'. I think mostly that genre is Henry Mancini and people trying to ape Mancini's style. This involves using a minor key with one line that goes up and down a limited chromatic range, and another that goes up and down a different chromatic range, with the effect that the two lines create tension and resolution.

Other crime jazz standards include the John Barry's James Bond theme and Al Hirt's Green Hornet theme.

It's a bit newer, but Mark Ronson's 2007 album Version is totally that style, kind of retro-crime jazz.
posted by Jon_Evil at 9:16 PM on February 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


I won't take a stab at a genre, but I like the suggestions above (crime jazz, spy jazz). A piece you may like (out of left field): Dzihan & Kamien's Stiff Jazz.
posted by 2ghouls at 9:25 PM on February 2, 2012


See also: Roy Budd
posted by neroli at 9:48 PM on February 2, 2012


The theme from the Japanese anime Lupin the 3rd by Yuji Ohno is probably the most famous example of this in Japan. Also, The Great Chase.
posted by misozaki at 11:44 PM on February 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Surf music, also.
posted by zoinks at 2:11 AM on February 3, 2012


If it helps, Peter Gunn is all Mixolydian all the time.

You may also like Harlem Nocturne.
posted by plinth at 3:18 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Herbie Hancock's soundtrack from Blowup - tracks such as Bring Down the Birds.
Tony Hatch's music such as "The Theme for Crossroads"
Lalo Schifirin's Theme for "Enter the Dragon"
Ron Grainer's theme for "Man in a suitcase".
Music by The Herbaliser - such as "The Missing Suitcase". Their style is more a tribute to those above.
Likewise with "Twiggy Twiggy vs James Bond" by Pizicatto 5

What makes the pieces like the ones you mentioned similar to each other is that the composers have just a few seconds to hit you with something memorable which will set the mood for show. The show is going to involve action set in the 60s. They have a full orchestra at their disposal and are not afraid to use it.
posted by rongorongo at 5:02 AM on February 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Eddie Warner - 'Come' (as used in the Ivan Dobsky sketch on Monkey Dust.) If you like that, there's more on the Album: "Le Jazzbeat vol 2" and other releases on the French label L'Illustration Musicale.
posted by dirm at 6:36 AM on February 3, 2012


Police's Every Breath You Take. There's an excellent mash-up of the two on the Sopranos(pops to Youtube)
posted by Dub at 7:37 AM on February 3, 2012


SomaFM's Secret Agent Radio specializes in this sound. Turn it on, listen for a while, and I'm confident you'll find more that you like.
posted by eschatfische at 7:57 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


You might also enjoy Herb Alpert. He's a lot more schmaltzy than Mancini, but sooo very evocative of the early 60's. Start with the awesome Whipped Cream and Other Delights and go from there. Be careful once you get to the mid-70's though. Yuck.

Interesting aside, the young woman on the cover is covered in shaving cream, not whipped cream. The whipped cream kept melting under the lights.
posted by bluejayway at 9:04 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nthing 'crime jazz.'
posted by box at 10:40 AM on February 3, 2012


The Herbaliser might scratch that itch. Some live sax and other jazz elements on those recordings, which are very much informed by crime movies (I suppose I had thought of it as 'Spy Music', but 'Crime Jazz' is a catchier term).

Also, check out the Art of Noise cover of Peter Gunn, if you haven't already done.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 10:48 AM on February 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Check out all the John Barry Bond scores. The very best Barry pastiche is the soundtrack to "The Incredibles."
posted by ecmendenhall at 10:52 AM on February 3, 2012



If it helps, Peter Gunn is all Mixolydian all the time.


Er, nope. The bass line has a minor three and a major three. Which is pretty common blue note over V7 chords, but is definitely not Mixolydian.

Personally, I put those two more in the Jazz end of Blues then the Blues end of Jazz, but there's no clear line, so...

The Mingus tune "Boogie Stop Shuffle" has a similar repeating bass line thing going, and "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" should fit in too.
posted by Gygesringtone at 12:02 PM on February 3, 2012


Curtis Mayfield and Lalo Schifrin
posted by balistic at 1:18 PM on February 3, 2012


You'll love David Holmes, especially his work on the Out of Sight and Oceans 11 soundtracks.
posted by Unsomnambulist at 5:30 PM on February 3, 2012


broader category names include exotica, lounge, and space age pop. awesome stuff.
posted by davidmsc at 12:35 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Er, nope. The bass line has a minor three and a major three. Which is pretty common blue note over V7 chords, but is definitely not Mixolydian.
I respectfully disagree. I played lead trumpet on this chart and the open section for solos was clearly labeled 'mixolydian', and seeing as the chords and baseline never changed, it was all mixolydian (my other reference is a tenor sax player in my community band in his 70's who played in big bands. You mention Peter Gunn and he says, "it is so easy to play over mixolydian.").
posted by plinth at 3:17 PM on February 11, 2012


I respectfully disagree. I played lead trumpet on this chart and the open section for solos was clearly labeled 'mixolydian', and seeing as the chords and baseline never changed, it was all mixolydian (my other reference is a tenor sax player in my community band in his 70's who played in big bands. You mention Peter Gunn and he says, "it is so easy to play over mixolydian.").


Without theory geeking out too much...

I suspect part of this is a "who taught you jazz theory" sort of terminology thing. To me mixolydian refers to the scale, but I've known plenty of folks who use D mixolydian to mean D7. I understand the thinking behind that, and have my own reasons for referring to harmony by chord rather than scale, but those issues aren't particularly relevant here. The arranger of your chart was probably going for a specific sound for the solos, one which I can see working out really well with the over all aesthetic of the piece.

However, glancing at the chart, I see a bunch of b9 and #9s (so I guess I was wrong, it's not a blue note on a V7, the whole thing's an alt7) in the melody. Which puts a completely different group of notes than what most people mean when they say mixolydian in the head of the tune.

What I probably should have mentioned earlier is that a large part of the drive of piece is provided by the tension of those #9s and b9s, and the chromaticism in the bass is especially relevant in context of "how is Peter Gunn like The Pink Panther, which features a pretty chromatic melody. Mancini wrote lots of music, and one of the things that sets those two apart from say "Days of Wine and Roses" or "Mr Lucky" is a use of chromatic melody over a more static harmony (o.k. so, Pink Panther isn't static, but it's got a slower harmonic rhythm than "Days of Wine..."). Which is one of the things that puts them closer to blues than jazz to my ear, and seems to be pretty common in the songs that people recommended as similar in style.

I've been kicking myself for not having recommended that the OP checks out some Soul Jazz, like Lee Morgan's album The Sidewinder, or Cannon Ball Adderley (especially from around the same time as Mercy, Mercy, Mercy). It definitely influenced Mancini's style for those pieces (simpler harmonies than most other styles of jazz, repetitive bass lines, same blurring of the lines between jazz and blues and soul and gospel). So thanks for giving me the excuse to mention that.
posted by Gygesringtone at 9:28 PM on February 11, 2012


« Older Google+, the Android App. Can ...   |  I want to automate a VLC strea... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.