Enjoy this note from session cellist, Armen Ksajikian, on working with the legendary John Barry.
Working for John Barry was very predictable. He had a certain schedule of doing things. We’ll run through a piece and then we’ll make a take and then he’ll go into the booth and listen to it. We already knew exactly what the plan was, it wasn’t like oh we’re half way through let’s do another take, let’s do a safety, let’s do coverage. We’d do one take, he goes in the booth and that’s it. It was an expected routine. We knew what to do. We didn’t have iPhones we didn’t go on Facebook in between recording. We got a lot of things done while they were playing things back. Some people would be writing checks to pay their bills. Then they would come back, make adjustments and we’d do another take. Back then it wasn’t the most exciting thing to work with John Barry because as cellists we pretty much did chords and arpeggios. No matter what movie it was (Armen singing a typical phrase from Somewhere) okay Somewhere In Time. Then there was Dances With Wolves (Armen singing a typical cello phrase from Dances). I always think this guy did more with less than anyone else in the business. And I mean that as a huge compliment of course. He knew exactly how to cover the screen and get the maximum effect. All the flack he got, but how well do you recognize all these great themes? There were certain harmonies that we did that were very recognizable. We used to take it for granted, but then when you see, in some ways, that sort of reminds me of Jerry Goldsmith’s scores. I knew a bunch of young composers that were in the Paramount library and they snuck in wanted to check out a lot of these scores that were in their possession. They would go through Jerry Goldsmith’s scores and would say, “there’s nothing there.” We didn’t see anything. There’s almost no music, no notes. But then when we do it (play it), it’s just like everything comes together and there was a mastery about that.