“I name that tune in, uh, twenty years…”

I have spent the last twenty years of my life looking for a particular piece of music I heard in my childhood. It’s beautiful beyond words: a lonely, wooden flute repeating four notes in a rising crescendo, peaking as an orchestra of violins takes over to create one of the prettiest noises you’ll ever hear on planet Earth.

The nameless tune has been with me for as long as I can remember and has been impossible to find. Ever try going up to somebody and saying, “Name this tune!” and seeing their blank face as you hum it? Occasionally I’d hear it on a BBC trailer (they use it at least once a year) but I’ve never been able to track down the name.

All I knew was that the music conjured up images of jungles in my head and that it was definitely the theme to a film or a TV show. I spent at least a decade thinking it was the theme from Life On Earth, until I watched it last year and discovered it wasn’t. I can still remember my disappointment, knowing my quest was going to have to continue.

Last week, inspired to find it one more time, I spent an hour wandering around iTunes, clicking on various film and TV themes and being disappointed over and over. Finding a random piece of music with no name? Impossible. My mission to find the home of those four rising notes was hopeless.

Until last night, when I decided to watch Roland Joffe’s The Mission for the first time since my childhood. Four minutes in… and there it was! Playing over the jungles of South America was that incredible melody that had haunted me for two decades! At last I knew who composed it (Ennio Morricone) and, needless to say, I downloaded it from iTunes within minutes and keep getting chills as I play it over and over again. [NB: If you want to hear it yourself, look for the soundtrack to The Mission on iTunes and download the song named “Falls”.]

There are two things that disturb me now: one, that I spent twenty years on a mission to find something from The Mission… And two, now that the quest is over, I don’t have anything else to hunt for.

But at least I have something to listen to while I don’t.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to ““I name that tune in, uh, twenty years…”

  1. I had something similar with a snatch of music that I heard once on an animated screen saver of all things. The artwork was by William Latham and after much searching (in pre internet days) I found that the music was from a rare ambient album by The Shaman that I eventually tracked down in a second hand record shop in Camden several years later.

  2. Dawn T

    Spooky, very similar experience for me – the music I heard was in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, though it’s not on the soundtrack. Just last year I found it’s from Saint-Saens ‘Carnival of the Animals’, the piece called ‘The Aquarium’

  3. I chased a piece of music for many years, only to finally find it on Mike Oldfield’s “Ommadawn”-album.

    “The Mission” is quite wonderfull as well, both as a movie and as a soundtrack. It was the first CD I ever bought.
    I am quite fond of Ennio Morrcone, though my fave Ennio-soundtrack will always be the one he composed for “My name is Nobody”. For various reasons that western is still special for me, and I still whistle the theme occasionally And what Morricone did with Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” is great! 150 sons of bitches on horsback indeed….

  4. Lerxst

    Nothing as frustrating as that. After 25 years, I’m still trying to find the lyrics to Love & Food by Tenpole Tudor (B-side to Swords of a Thousand Men, and probably my favourite song of theirs). I’ve got the track itself, it’s just that Eddie’s vocals always were, er, a bit awkward to decipher in places.

  5. Of course, the tragedy is that the kid who didn’t know what a skeleton is will no doubt end up being paid far more than the other kid, as the other one clearly has a personality and creativity. The other one just gets his head down and doesn’t care. Sucks ass, eh?

    In other news, the theme from Peter and the Wolf – don’t hum it! – haunts me. It has some kind of power over me whereby I’m reduced to a quivering wreck whenever I hear it. Seriously, it scares the bejesus out of me. Of course, ‘friends’, when they discover this, find great mirth in whistling it… Oh the hilarity.

  6. Lerxst

    “The other one just gets his head down and doesn’t care.”
    He won’t earn that much – cleaners in the NHS aren’t that well paid.

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