Music Friend Special
Meet a co-producer and fabulous musician on the shows The Twits, and Crescend'O.
By Edward Harris
I was born in 1959 in San Jose, California, just south of San Francisco.One of my earliest memories is lying in the back of our family’s huge '64 Chevrolet station wagon, with my ear next to the mono speaker listening to the AM radio playing the Beatles, Henry Mancini and Johnny Cash.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I learned a lot about the music my parents loved just by listening.
My older brother Ken and I loved to invent and build stuff, and were constantly taking things apart in order to understand how they worked.
We bought old radios, record players, tape machines, speakers and parts.
It’s amazing that we didn’t get electrocuted fixing and modifying these things!
The music emanating from local garage bands eventually got to my brother and me; and in 1972 we began playing guitars. We decided to form a band and needed a bass player so we bought a bass and formed a band. That day, I decided I would commit myself to learning both bass and guitar.
I also started to write and record original music for our band, inspired by concerts we attended by Genesis, John Cage, Led Zeppelin, Count Basie and The San Francisco Symphony.
When I informed my father of my intention to eventually study music, he said, “You’re crazy!”
I studied music at West Valley College & San Jose State University, California from 1977-1983 but my real education came from playing with great musicians in the booming San Francisco scene.
For the next dozen years I made my living freelancing on bass and guitar playing in the orchestra for Richard Harris of Camelot, for TV legends The Smothers Brothers, and everything in between.
Then I went around the world as a musician on cruise ships. My experience with world music later proved to be invaluable when in 2008 I needed to write a Jewish theme for the film series Die Wölfe.
Two weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 I came to work in Europe, on tour with a theater orchestra.
I finally settled in Hamburg in 1994 having fallen in love with a Hamburg girl and with the European way of life. I recognized that Germany’s long art and music traditions created an environment in which artists enjoyed a higher level of appreciation and respect than they did in the USA and I wanted to be a part of that.
When I moved to Hamburg my friend Dylan Vaughn organized an audition for a theater pit orchestra; I got a job.
Through friends at the NDR (North German Radio) I met American jazz saxophone legend Herb Geller, with whom I worked closely for many years; and in 1996, Herb got me a gig with the NDR Big Band (clip with Ed Harris) where I played with many of my jazz heroes, and I still play and record with the NDR today.
In 1999, I studied film composition with English composer Chris Evans, who helped me grasp the technical aspects of composing and then went on to study the music of famous film composers in order to understand the secrets of their unique sound.
I wrote the music for the 2004 Oscar nominated film Die Rote Jacke (The Red Jacket).
This opened doors and helped with my transition from player to film composer.
Every film has been an education:
- In animation films I learned how to create irony;
- in thrillers, how to build tension;
- and in drama, how to musically depict mental states.
In film, I believe I have found the perfect platform to unify all my creative interests;
writing and playing music in different styles, designing & building, working with materials & textures, solving a puzzle, and collaborating with creative people.
These are the things that I loved as a child.
I look forward with enthusiasm to my next project when I will go into my studio to build something new—not with a hammer and pliers, like I did as a child—but with a pencil, collections of instruments, and all my recording gear.
You can listen to the amazing world of Edward Harris film music,
including - Die Rote Jacke & Die Wölfe here.