Uccellacci e Uccellini

Ennio Morricone

" Uccellacci E Uccellini has unique opening credits that I do not think have ever been copied; they are sung. "

Written by Joep de Bruijn - Review of the music as heard in the movie

Uccellacci e Uccellini (Hawks and Sparrows) was Morricone's first collaboration with director Pier Paolo Pasolini. Even though Pasolini's personal musical ideas for each new film seemed uninspired on paper, there's a creative and complex backstory to these pieces in relation to the film and his creative and intelligent mind; the most interesting director in the history of Italian cinema. Before discussing the actual music of Uccellacci e Uccellini, there's so much to say about working conditions between various composers and the director, which is evident in details Morricone revealed in numerous interviews of the years. I think you can write a long and fascinating book on the subject, even the use of existing music in each of Pasolini’s films.

I would like to quote an earlier written review of Salò o Le 120 Giornate di Sodoma to provide an introduction about the working conditions between the composer and director, not discussing all of their collaborations.

´Pasolini was one of the filmmakers Ennio Morricone speaks highly of. He felt the director was by far humblest, respectful and friendly persons he collaborated with in his career, and Salò was to be their final joint effort. Pasolini has often been a director who was very outspoken about his own musical ideas for a film, sometimes giving the composer the opportunity to write a full score, but usually wanted classical music to have its place amongst the music for the film. The director, as always, wrote down very specific musical ideas and very concretely explained what he expected from each of the composers he worked with. Morricone is known for accepting everything someone offered at the beginning of his career, only to become more vocal towards the progression of his career. Yet, he never declined any offer by Pasolini and was so devoted he made unusually large concessions, which is also evident in some original music he wrote to his films. The composer never saw the full film until its first theatrical viewing in Rome and was unsurprisingly shocked by it. In retrospect, he was eternally grateful the director showed him everything but the explicit scenes while they were discussing the film in the editing room. It was a sign of kindness and trust, but as an outsider, the very thought of purposefully not showing them, raises some questions. Hypothetically, the music in the Salò could have been different, but knowing the mindset of the director, I don't expect it would have made a lot of difference. However, I do keep on wondering what the theatre play Orgia, whose music remains unreleased, is compared to when they worked together for cinema, and if the working process was somehow different.

In some of their collaborations, the composer wrote a 'full' score (Uccellacci E Uccellini, La Streghe, Teorema and Il Fiore delle Mille e Una Notte), but for I racconti di Canterbury, Il Decameron and Salo he receives a musical advisor/musical curator credit. Pasolini often acted as the musical supervisor on his own films and for these three Morricone wrote next to nothing, often only adapting pieces. In I racconti di Canterbury, you hear mostly a reworking of old music and includes an original cue just 32 seconds long, Il Decameron only made Morricone adapt existing music, while for Salò he wrote an original 4-minute piece and conducted one existing piece of music. In the opening credits, his name appears alongside the name of Arnaldo Graziosi for playing the piano.´


Pasolini was always very consistent in how every new collaboration with a composer began; he handed them a series of requested pieces of music, For Uccellacci E Uccellini, he gave Morricone instructions to adapt pieces of classical music, particularly Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. Initially, the composer declined the offer and told him he wanted to write an original score. He did write an original, 16 minutes long score, but also yielded and adapted Die Zauberflöte for an ocarina and violin, which can only be heard in the film. A few of Morricone's own compositions along with their designated scenes were removed by the director.

In cinematic history, we have been spoiled by all kinds of creative, visual and musical ideas to give opening credits a distinctive character Each one of us can safely provide notable examples. But Uccellacci E Uccellini has unique opening credits that I do not think have ever been copied; they are sung. Its initial idea derived from the mind of Pasolini who and revealed lyrics he had written to be sung in the opening credits, displaying little ironic lines in between the names. Morricone wrote a piece of music, Uccellacci e Uccellini - Titoli di testa (02:26), in which he provided a different orchestration, for each name, while also summarising the overall score. It was performed by Domenico Modugno. The composer suggested to the director to add his own laughter once 'Ennio Morricone' was sung. I cannot possibly describe how happy this creative idea made me upon first hearing it in the film. By different standards, neglecting the musical qualities on its own, this makes the song the most hilarious and best of the maestro's career. The humorous effect does wear out after repeated listenings, but it's a wonderful point of reference of something unique..

Uccellacci e uccellini - Titoli di testa, lyrics
''Alfredo Bini
l'assurdo Totò
l'umano Totò
il matto Totò
il dolce Totò
nella storia
raccontata da Pier Paolo Pasolini
con l'innocente
col furbetto
Davoli Ninetto
Trovati per le strade del mondo
tutti gli altri attori
da Femi Benussi a Vittorio Vittori
Nel triste girotondo
nel lieto girotondo
Luigi Scaccianoce architettò
Danilo Donati acconciò
Nino Baragli montò e rimontò
Ennio Morricone musicò
Mario Bernardo e Tonino Delli Colli fotografò
Fernando Franchi organizzò
Sergio Citti da filosofo aiutò
Una piccola troupe per le periferie vagabondò
per campagne e paeselli si scannò
Producendo rischiò la sua posizione
Alfredo Bini
dirigendo rischiò la reputazione
Pier Paolo Pasolini''

The idea of the opening credits was given secondary spin at the end of the film, but it's not rehearsing the same concept. Uccellacci e Uccellini - Titoli di coda (00:40) is a short piece with, again music by Morricone, the lyrics by Passolini and sung by Domenico Modugno. This time, it's a troubadour tying things together to provide closure to the film, which is in fact a concept that is been used numerous times.

Uccellacci e uccellini - Titoli di coda, lyrics
''Amici cari
Come sempre
Finisce così
Comincia così
Si chiude così
Continua così
Questa storia
Di uccellacci ed uccellini''

I rarely return to actually listen to Morricone's music separately, as it is so much entangled with the level multilayeredness of the themes that come from the director's great mind, even for a light film such as this. It is best described as a satirical, political fairy tale meets silent tragicomedy, with some notable and very clear remarks on Marxism and the Catholic Church. The use of score, in very basic terms, usually is quite comic tragically. For example, there are the mesmerizing strings in ´S. Francesco parla agl´i and closely resembling the piece of mystique melancholia, performed by dissonant violins, plucked snares and piano in ´Aforisme´. But also a falsely joyous dance tune ´Nidi di rondine´ and a very infectious Partisan inspired march. As a separate listening, I would say it's an overtly quite beautifully and tragically sounding score, with some quirky moments, yet far from remarkable. Morricone had a lot of freedom in writing his own music, which is reflected in the end result that is mostly rather simplified in its approach, perhaps signaling at some of the most simplified metaphors, particularly society's.

Yet given the extensive and deep comments on their collaborations by Morricone, I think he understood some  of his essential beliefs, even upon their first collaboration. It's very hard to appreciate the music out of context, and it remains less interesting than the thoroughly sought out pieces of music the director usually assembled on each of his films, which on its own seem rather uninspiring on paper, although through extensive research there is so much more to them.

A Gdm cd release paired Uccellacci e Uccellini with Cartoni Animati, while they also released a separate vinyl pressing a few years ago. The 12 tracks debuted on a Rca cd pairing with music from La Streghe and Teorema.

1.  Uccellacci e uccellini - Titoli di testa (02:26)
2.  Aforismi (01:53)
3.  Teatrino all'aperto (01:09)
4.  Nidi di rondine (01:03)
5.  Scuola di ballo al sole (02:36)
6.  S. Francesco parla agli uccelli (01:27)
7.  Il corvo professore (01:00)
8.  Teatrino all'aperto (00:42)
9.  Scarpe rotte (01:44)
10.  Uccellacci e uccellini -Strumentale (00:46)
11.  Funerale (01:12)
12.  Uccellacci e uccellini - Titoli di coda (00:40)

Total Duration: 00:16:38

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Released by

- (music as heard in the movie 1966)