American Sniper

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

― Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

At the age of 84, and still producing his best work, Clint Eastwood is the embodiment of the famous quote by Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas. How does Clint Eastwood keep a high (and improving) level of work?

(All quotes are from Clint eastwood, taken from the book, Film Craft: Directing, by Mike Goodridge.)

Good, is often good enough

Clint Eastwood has a reputation for always going with the first, or second take. His reasoning is, that he has already gone through the process of hiring really good actors, so one or two takes is usually sufficient. Eastwood also films the rehearsal take, just incase he get what he needs by accident:

“Sometimes when I’m rehearsing for a camera move, the performance is so good that I just turn the camera on, not wanting to lose it. I’ve seen it happen in the past that actors come out really good at the start and then all of a sudden, they start killing it with improvements.”

My personal feeling is that performance (of any kind) drops off quickly. Your first attempts at anything are usually the best.

Calm is contagious

Keep a deliberate, calm work environment:

“It’s very important to have a comfortable and calm environment on set. It’s important that the actors are submerging themselves into the character to the greatest degree, and the best way to do that is to give them full confidence, and ensure they don’t feel like they’re riding a ship that’s on the brink of disaster.” 

For myself, I can only create guitar arrangements and write this blog, in a clean, orderly, and quiet environment. Seeing as how my wife and I have little one on way — that’s all going to change very soon!

Project forward momentum

Whether you manage a team, or teach individual people guitar like me, everybody has feel as though they’re accomplishing something: 

“It’s more that I want to get the feeling that we’re moving. You have to keep the crew and the production going at a business- like pace so they get the feeling they are part of something that’s actually moving forward.”

Everytime I visit a student, they have to feel like a better guitar player, like they’re making progress. I accomplish this by starting out with riffs and songs that are almost too easy. Small victories lead to big progress.

You can wreck a good thing with “improvements”

Again, good enough — is often good enough. I’m still learning the art of quitting while you’re ahead. If you’re doing things right, and your intentions are good, typically what you produce will follow suit.

I was killing (The Unforgiven) script with improvements. So I went back to (the writer) and said that I had been working on these ideas and I really felt I was wrecking it, so I was just going to go with it the way it was. Of course, you make improvements along the way, but generally when you start intellectualizing it, you can take the spirit out of it.”

With my baby on the way, I’m trying to speed up my blogging process by: picking really good material, taking my time to practice it (on guitar) more, and not worry so much about my writing. If the ideas are compelling, the exact execution doesn’t really matter that much.


(Note: The Funeral for guitar is my premium material.)

How to play The Funeral for guitar, by Ennio Morricone from American Sniper

The Funeral exemplifies Clint Eastwood’s expert use of his own music in films, and other composer’s music as well. The first example that comes to mind is Eastwood himself, played all of the jazz piano in The Hereafter, but chose Piano Concerto No. 2 by Sergei Rachmaninoff for his closing sequence.

The Funeral was composed by Ennio Morricone for the 1965 spaghetti western, The Return of Ringo or Una Pistola Per Ringo il Ritorno Di Ringo. Although I haven’t seen American Sniper yet — given the film’s subject matter — I’m sure it serves as poignant ending.

The Funeral is extraordinarily easy to play. The guitar tab is two pages long and played straight through. I’ve also given you the names of the chord shapes, where applicable, above the guitar tablature. I reccomend this song for beginner guitar players and up.

If you like this arrangement, you might also like enjoy: the Fury theme, The Homesman, or Interstellar theme (free tab). Another really popular arrangement is Waking Up by Explosions in the Sky from the movie Lone Survivor.

Enjoy, the tab is available below:

The Funeral is tuned one whole step down. Your tuning is as follows from low to high: D G C F A D.

The Funeral by Ennio Morricone

Written by:

Matthew's dad, Jennifer's husband, bass player - New Invisible Joy, YouTuber, film composer - Broken Noons, creator of modern content for guitar.