The Tudor Minstrels


The Tudor Minstrels was the name given by Decca to the studio orchestra, conducted by George Martin, which recorded “The Family Way” soundtrack in 1966. A 7″ was released under this name containing the two main themes of the soundtrack, which were written by Paul McCartney.


PAUL McCartney’s first film theme music — which incidentally is the first new Beatles composition since “Revolver” and the first Paul McCartney music to be recorded by musicians before the Beatles have waxed it — has become the subject of considerable confusion in the last two weeks.

Paul has composed two items —the very beautiful “Love In The Open Air” and the mournfully dignified Theme of “The Family Way,” the name of the film. As arranger George Martin (and Beatles a-and-r man) forecast the former could be another “Limelight,” I think it’s worth telling you about the confusion.

For the first time in his career George Martin — who put Paul’s compositions on to paper, because Paul cannot write music, and who did the arrangements of the numbers for orchestra — finds that he is in competition with himself!

This Friday he has two instrumental singles of the two Paul McCartney tunes coming out on rival labels and issued by rival firms! It happened like this:

He conducted the film soundtrack of “The Family Way” for Tudor Films, the Boulting Brothers company which made the picture. It was agreed, George told me, that this would be brought out only as an LP.

However, the Decca company, which bought the music rights from the Boulting Brothers, decided differently and were all set to issue a single last week.

This was by the Tudor Minstrels, the name given to the studio orchestra which made the soundtrack and was conducted by George Martin.

When George heard of the Decca single, he was embarrassed because he had made plans to do a single of Paul’s music with his own orchestra for the EMI-associated United Artists label. He protested and had the copyright held up. Decca were forced to postpone the issuing or the record until George had completed his own version of the tunes. This has been done at a great rush this week and both records will be released this Friday.

George told me, after playing his United Artists versions of the tunes to me: “Naturally I hope my United Artists disc is more popular than the soundtrack version because it is under my name and get more money.”

Paul told me that he was surprised that Decca were issuing his composition but admitted that he had no say in this and never interfered with the business side or things.

He did, however, tell me the history of his first venture into film music composing.

“It was most unglamorous really. I rang our Nems Office and said I would like to write a film theme; not a score, just a theme. John was away filming so I had time to do it. Nems fixed it for me to do the theme of The Family Way.”

Paul was told the story of this Northern drama, which revolves around a young couple —Hayley Mills and Hyvell Bennett — who get married at the beginning of the film and then find that the man cannot consummate the marriage. The entire film revolves round this frustrating development but in the end, to the triumphant notes of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, everything comes all right one afternoon.

So McCartney can say he shares the film score with Beethoven — good company!

I asked George why he wanted to bring out his own single. Was it purely financial? George, a practical man, agreed that had some bearing but he also felt that the film soundtrack music, while fitting the visual film, wasn’t quite commercial to be issued as a single. So on his version he has speeded up the music a bit to make it more acceptable to record buyers.

Paul then told me how he had composed the opening theme, heard over the titles and against a background of the marriage in church. He played this on piano to George Martin, who told me: “I jotted the notes down and then got to work on the arrangement. I brought in, as Paul agreed, a church organ, a bit of a brass band with tuba to the fore, a string quartet flavour, and percussion, and merged the lot to play the Theme of The Family Way”

“I went to America for a time and on returning realised we needed a love theme for the centre of the picture, something wistful. I told Paul and he said he’d compose something. I waited, but nothing materialised, and finally I had to go round to Paul’s house and literally stand there till he’d composed something.

“John was visiting and advised a bit, but Paul created the tune and played it to me on guitar. I listened and wrote it down. It is a fragile, yet compelling, melody. I arranged it for woodwinds and strings and we called it ‘Love In The Open Air.’ It’s quite haunting,”

It was played to me and I agreed. You can visualise the open air scene with lovers around. In contrast the theme in the church had a dour, mournful, dirge-like dignity about it, which is quite catching.

Which, if either, disc will make the charts? It will be interesting to watch developments.

From New Musical Express – December 24, 1966
From New Musical Express – December 24, 1966
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