Dragon's Domain Records presents SANTA BARBARA: A MUSICAL PORTRAIT, featuring music composed by Joe Harnell for the soap opera series that ran on NBC daytime television from July 1984 through January 1993. The show was created by Dobson Productions and New World Television—the Dobson family was known for creating GENERAL HOSPITAL and were head writers for GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS prior to the debut of SANTA BARBARA; the show was the first TV co-production for the television arm of Roger Corman's New World Pictures.
SANTA BARBARA's storyline followed the lives of several prominent families at odds with one another, set in the Southern California mission town of Santa Barbara. One of the show's interesting angles was centering one of its major plots around the murder of a prominent citizen, with various characters being accused of the crime, allowing for an ongoing plot thread around and through which many other subplots would intersect across the nine-year arc of the story. The serial became quite popular, winning 24 Daytime Emmy Awards, 18 Soap Opera Digest Awards, and was broadcast in more than 40 countries around the world.
In 1984 Joe Harnell was hired to compose a music library for the SANTA BARBARA series. Due to the daily schedule of soap operas as well as their long duration, original music wasn't composed for each episode; rather composers like Joe would compose and record a variety of music—pieces that could be used for all manner of situations and circumstances anticipated to be needed for the show's storyline, which could then be inserted throughout the whole series for various sequences as needed.
Harnell scored a main title theme and approximately four hours of music to give SANTA BARBARA's music editors plenty of material to cover the serial's hoped-for duration. He conceived, composed, and orchestrated a wide-ranging musical landscape that could be used for the kinds of situations the producers expected scripts to demand. The music was then recorded by a 40-piece orchestra with emphasis on rhythm section, with Joe himself playing the keyboards. Before the series premiered, however, the producer who hired Joe left and was replaced by a number of new producers; as happens in Hollywood, these new producers wanted to bring in their own people, so Harnell's entire music library was tossed out and a team of new composers were brought in to write and record their own music library. With one exception: the executive producers loved Joe's main title theme and insisted it be used as the main title music throughout the serial's duration.
Joe Harnell was born in 1924, in the Bronx. He began studying piano at the age of 6. His professional career started at age 14 as jazz pianist playing with name bands while continuing serious musical studies. In high school, he began arranging and studying orchestral instruments. He received a scholarship to the University Of Miami for piano and trombone. In 1943, he entered the Air Force, where he soon began touring with the Glenn Miller Air Force Band, serving both in the United States and Europe. While still in the service, he attended composition classes with Nadia Boulanger in Paris, then later with William Walton in London at the Trinity College Of Music. He returned to the United States and was discharged from the Air Force in 1946. During the summers of 1949 – 1951, he continued his studies in composition with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood. He also held the post of musical director with Grey Advertising in New York City for three years. Joe resumed his professional career as a pianist and arranger and began a new career as musical director for many celebrated singers. Shortly thereafter, he took on a new role as recording artist himself and, to date, recorded 18 albums – among them his Grammy winning "Fly Me To The Moon".
From 1967 to 1973, Joe was the musical director for THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW. Following his success with THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW, Joe came to California, where he began his career as a composer of film and television music. Joe composed music for numerous television movies and series including CLIFFHANGERS, HOT PURSUIT, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, V – THE ORIGINAL MINI-SERIES and ALIEN NATION. He has been nominated for an Emmy on three separate occasions for Best Dramatic Score. In his lifetime, he composed over 400 hours of original music for television and motion pictures. His scores for THE BIONIC WOMAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK heavily influenced the scoring of all Universal television programs in the late 1970's. His scores used a traditional orchestral approach (influenced by his Jazz roots) using a 32 piece orchestra. He frequently conducted scores from the piano during recording sessions and he performed all the piano and keyboard solos in all of his scores. Joe remained active composing and performing until his passing on July 15th, 2005 from heart failure at the age of 80.
Dragon's Domain Records presents the world premiere soundtrack release of SANTA BARBARA: A MUSICAL PORTRAIT in loving memory of the great Joe Harnell. SANTA BARBARA: A MUSICAL PORTRAIT is limited to 500 units and professionally mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland, including liner notes written by author Randall Larson.