Charlie Chaplin & David Raksin - Charlie’s Dance (via Modern Times: Original Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack)
“[When he arrived at the studio], Charlie was generally armed with a couple of musical phrases; in the beginning, apparently because he thought of me as an innocent, he seemed to enjoy telling me that he got some of his best ideas ‘while meditating [raising of eyebrow] - on the throne, you know.’ Innocent or not, few composers can afford to be squeamish about the loci of the muse.
Here it may be valuable to discuss the nature of the collaboration which Chaplin found necessary. [Despite being credited as sole composer on most of his films], in all his films, Chaplin was assisted by another composer.
Charlie and I worked hand in hand. Sometimes the initial phrases were several phrases long, and sometimes they consisted of only a few notes, which Charlie would whistle, or hum, or pick out on the piano. I remained in the projection room, where Charlie and I worked together to extend and develop the musical ideas to fit what was on the screen. The result of this process was a series of sketches, quite specific as to the principle musical lines and cueing to the action on the screen, but far from complete as to harmonies, subsidiary lines, and instrumentation.
When you have only a few notes or a short phrase with which to cover a scene of some length, there must ensue considerable development and variation - what is called for is the application of the techniques of composition to shape and extend the themes to the desired proportions.
That so few people understand this makes possible the common delusion that composing consists of getting some kind of micro-flash of an idea, and that the rest of it is mere artisanry; it is this misconception that has enabled a whole generation of hummers and strummers to masquerade as composers.”
-David Raksin, Quarterly Journal for the Library of Congress (1983)