For the subway hijack film "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three", David Shire wrote a jazz-funk-based score but using an atonal melody as it's main theme (technically-speaking, the theme is a 12-tone row melody, which means that Shire used all 12 notes of an octave without repeating any). This was a very clever move in that the funk element makes the criminals seem almost likeable (relate-able), and the atonal aspect of the theme gives everything an unbalanced, "criminal" edge (a similar tactic of groove-supported "chaos" was used by Ennio Morricone in scores such as 1971's The Cat O' Nine Tails).
- Money Groove: Simple 3-accent bass line based on a minor 3rd in various rhythms, featured everywhere but especially in the "Money Montage" and "Money Express".
- Pelham Theme: 4 part theme using 3-note brass figures separated by pauses (3rd figure sometimes has tremolo accents).
- Pelham Row: this is the scale for the Pelham theme, but often just 6 notes are used or the melody is used in broken fragments (the notes can also be used upside-down, backwards, or both upside-down and backwards). The Row is also different from the Theme in that it has an even rhythm (sometimes like a loop).
|1||2:20||Main Title||0:00: Titles over black. NYC street traffic. Green enters the subway (Money groove: mid
tempo 3-accent bass vamp, Pelham theme as short brass figures, brass accents, Pelham Row, rhythmic accents).
0:57: (repeat with additional Pelham Row ornaments from 0:57).
|2||3:13||The Taking||0:00: (Partially used) The gunmen hold
up the conductor and take over the train controls (irregular low brass
accents, joined by layered brass fanfares, Pelham Row in clarinet, irregular accents/snare roll, low chord with dissonant string clusters).
2:08: (irregular low brass accents/snare, Pelham theme fragments on brass).
|0:00: (unused) Transit worker goes down the track to see investigate (walking bass/electric guitar groove with various piano/brass solos based on Pelham theme fragments, slowing down and fading out).|
|0:53: Blue tells Green that Grey
is crazy (slow, low figures in strings in contrary motion, slow Pelham fragment in muted
1:42: (mostly unused) The transit worker refuses to halt and is shot to death by Grey (snare riffs, walking bass resumes joined by Pelham Row riffing, vocal scat).
|0:00: A patrolman notices armed
snipers coming down the tracks (slow suspense 2-note bass vamp with
0:25: Green expresses his worries to Blue. They talk about their criminal pasts (low strings with synth accents, ending in a piano ornament).
|5||3:15||Money Montage||0:00: At the Federal Reserve
Bank, the ransom is prepared. At the
transit center, Garber worries about time running out (Money groove variation with added piano/brass accents, bass/drum groove with
held brass chords, baritone sax/bass/guiro vamp, Money groove with brass accents).
1:46: Green talks with Grey and they get tense (low suspense 2-note bass figures with drums/shakers, Pelham Row fragments). Money montage continues (Money groove variation with added electric piano Pelham Row fragments and hand percussion, ending in low held strings).
|6||4:34||Fifty Seconds||0:00: (Unused) Blue tells Green that he will start shooting hostages in 50 seconds (marimba/piano tremolo with muted brass accents).|
|The Money Express||0:34: (Unused) The police rush
the money through traffic (building brass fanfares, Money groove developed with accented Pelham Row fragments/Pelham theme, Pelham Row in piano ornaments, brass accents).
1:39: (Pelham theme in winds, tremolo piano/trumpets, Pelham Row fragments in brass, drum break with Pelham Row in electric piano, Money groove with piano tremolo).
3:13: (Building brass fanfares, electric guitar solo, slow suspense 2-note bass vamp variation, Pelham figure in electric piano, brass, Money groove resumes, held low texture).
|7||1:47||Conductor Killed||0:00: (alternate mix): A conductor is chosen to walk down the track. Blue shoots him in the back (Death motif: isolated piano ornaments dialogue with dissonant string clusters and muted brass accents, held dissonant brass/strings).|
|The Money Bag||1:03: The money bag is opened and the gunmen rejoice in amazement (isolated Pelham Theme in synth joined by string/wind clusters).|
|8||3:15||The Pelham's-Moving-Again Blues||0:00: The gunmen start the train
moving earlier than expected (brass and drum figures into relaxed Money groove
variation with added high wind harmonies, Pelham Theme in brass).
1:39: Pelham Row variation in sax, Pelham Theme in slow brass figures with simplified Money groove, slowing down, dissonant end harmony).
|9||3:05||I'm A Police Officer||0:00: (unused) An undercover policeman jumps off the train after the gunmen leave and sneaks towards them (bongos into rising action figure, halting brass figures).|
|Renewing Disguises||0:33: The abandoned train begins
moving again, but out of control (piano tremolo into brass tremoli with drums).
0:56: The gunmen change their disguises. The undercover policeman wakes up (suspenseful layers of Pelham Theme-based wind accents over irregular low bass accents, Pelham Row in piano).
|Goodbye Green, Hello Garber, Goodbye Hippie||1:41: Green reaches the street
and walks away. Garber arrives and
begins checking the exits (Money groove variation with Pelham Theme in brass figures, Pelham
Row in synth).
2:29: On the tracks, Blue threatens the policeman but is halted by Garber (Death motif: isolated piano ornaments dialogue with dissonant string clusters).
|Smoking More, Enjoying It Less||2:37: Blue electrocutes himself on the electrified rail (synth cluster).|
|10||1:57||Mini-Manhunt||0:00: Garber interviews suspects
looking for the escaped gunman (Money groove with wah guitar/short rising
saxophone figures, bass/snare groove, muted brass/drums enters, baritone sax/guitar/snare)
1:19: Green enjoys looking at his money, but is suddenly visited by Garber and the police (seductive Pelham theme in vibraphone/soprano sax, joined by wry strings and high electric piano ostinato).
|11||3:05||End Title||0:00: End credits (Money groove from
Main title developed with Pelham Row fragments and Pelham Theme in brass/electric piano/winds/etc).
1:51: (more consonant reharmonized variation of Pelham Theme/Row, ending in Money groove climax).
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Complete CD
Analysis/Interview by Doug Adams
On the '74 "Pelham," composer David Shire
David Shire - The Taking of Pelham 123 (fan video)
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