top of page

STELLA BY STARLIGHT - History and Tips

Updated: Jan 3

Ciao Fans!

This week I have dedicated myself to recording a really challenging video! I worked all 7 days, about 6 hours a day. I am satisfied. Its contents are very close to my heart and it was time that I wanted to share my thoughts on studying this wonderful music: the JAZZ. Let's say that I made myself a gift because on April 21 I celebrated my 29th birthday 😊 I'm seeing a lot of interest on social media and thank you all for your support! See you soon with the technical-musical analysis of this wonderful standard:


Transcription of the video

What do they know about tortellini, ragù,

babà, sfogliatella.



The History.

The Culture

Etc... Etc...

These are the stereotypes that we often we mature

when something does not go down with the stranger, the foreign.


That slightly ridiculous patriotism.

Without any logic.

If we are so proud of our land,

why we want to play jazz

like Americans do?

Also the

Americans are jealous about their earth,

about their culture, about their music…

They could say:

“Ehi man! What hell do you know about Jazz? It is our tradition!”

We are all potentially capable to play



ART TATUM. I don't know...

It's just to mention the most virtuous ones.

We have a lot of tools that help us to play

like that masters, by working hard.

The problem is that very few understand

really that you have to learn to THINK

like these gentlemen. To understand their creative

process as well as their music.

To study their biographies

To understand what really was the music for them,

their emotions.

It's not only a technical problem.

We must not be fooled by our perfectionism

and above all we must not be obsessed

with the right notes.

Let's use our emotions, our traditions,

our personal experiences within the music.

Let's do it with as less hypocrisy as possible.

Be honest with your instrument!

Tell who you are and not who you would like to be!

The point is: let's give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar!

So, we have two choices actually. We can play

our traditional music in jazz style,

if your really like this genre or, and this is

my personal opinion,

Let's try to really explore, with all respect, the American tradition.

I would like to repeat once more: this tradition is not ours one!

I would like to speak about STELLA BY STARLIGHT

that is an amazing tune.

I would like to analyze it in this way:


Let's start from scratch...

It is February the 10th, 1944, we are in NEW YORK

it is midnight and in the amazing Loew’s State Theatre


The film director is Lewis Allen

Musics are composed by the famous

VICTOR YOUNG who wrote

a lot of standards such as My Foolish

Heart, Beautiful Love, When I Fall In Love…

When I Fan In Love, this is very beautiful!

It is a fantastic horror movie and Martin Scorsese places it in 11th position among the most beautiful films of this genre.

It is a wonderful story of young Stella Meredith,

the daughter of a woman who lost her life by falling off a cliff in front of their home.

Stella's grandfather keeps

away the young woman from that house.

STELLA: Grandfather, please.

GRANDFATHER'S: I thought I made myself quite clear on this point, Stella.

He realizes that the villa is infested with a

ghost who inexplicably wants

to torment the young woman to bring her to the


The house remains uninhabited for many

years because every buyer

or tenant withdraws the contract

stipulated with grandfather because

almost every night because very strange noises

are heard almost every night.

The FITZGERALD brothers are interested in the property after spotting it by chance during a trip.

They then go to the other

Stella and grandfather's apartment.

They first meet the girl who tries to send them away explaining that the house is not for sale.

That's because she doesn't want to give them her mother's house

The grandfather arrives just in time, drives away the granddaughter and sells the house

with a very low price, despite having warned

Fitzgerald brothers of the strange

nocturnal sound manifestations that the brothers,

feeding on the normal and skepticism

towards paranormal events, they had dates

for granted given the location of the house

which also had the name of

Windward House.

Roderick Fitzgerald, during the 1st day

in his new house,

sees the shape of Stella Meredith through the window

who after a sad look goes away.

The following day Roderick, hearing voices of

neighborhood, discover that

from the cliff in front of his house a woman died

tragically .

He meets Stella who apologizes for the behavior

adopted the previous day,

She tells him that she lost her mother in that

cliff tragedy and, speaking about

other stuffs, they establish a relationship

of mutual interest.

Initial enthusiasms of a splendid villa

facing a cliff,

are appeased

from the first sinister voices ...

PAM: It sounds so heartbroken. RODERICK: Now don't get rattled.

RODERICK: There's a logical explanation for this. PAM: such as?

You can't expect me to give it to you offhand? But it stands to reason.

RODERICK: Does it come every night? PAM: NO

But just when you begin to think you've dreamt it, it comes again.

This crying is often reverberated by one

sudden light

and accompanied by a strong mimosa scent.

PAM: "The mimosa scent!"

They perceive curiosity but no so much fear from this sound experience. - RODERICK: Be calm, Pam,

Be calm.

Another kind of mood, that manifested itself in feelings of cold, weakness, tension, sadness and darkness,

is felt for the first time,

in the former study of Stella's father: a

artist who painted both his wife Mary

and a spanish model named Carmen who had been accused by everyone as Mary's murderer

because of the jealousy of a ménage à trois created between her, Mary and the painter.

Roderick decides to talk about it with the former owner

Stella's grandfather, who rejects these paranormal beliefs

and also rejects Mr. Fitzgerald's willingness to establish a friendship with his granddaughter

especially when he asks him to invite her for a dinner to the WINDWARD HOUSE.

RODERICK: What's the matter with us?

Why don't you allow Stella to see us?

STELLA'S GRANDFATHER: Because I don't want to.

And I must ask you for your word not to send her any more invitations.

RODERICK: I'll give you no such undertaking.

STELLA'S GRANDFATHER: Very well, I know how to deal with the matter.

Stella is not going inside that house!

Sentiment wins and while Roderick is coming back home meets Stella

who was going to the Church.

He gives her a ride and on the way they make arrangements for dinner.

Yes. Supper's at 8:00, But please come as early as you can.

She arrives in the WINDWARD HOUSE. She enters it after 17 years and is happy.

Stella vaguely remembers the house and is overwhelmed by various sensations related to her tender age.


STELLA: May I see the studio before it's dark?

Stella enters her father's old studio which now has a grandpiano, since Roderick is a musician and listens to him play.

Won't you play something?

It's about time you asked me that.

Strong emotions pervade Stella who realizes that the song is acomposition dedicated to her.

STELLA: you made that up?


It's a serenade.

'to Stella by Starlight.'

In particular, she feels two emotions:

Love and serenity...


Restlessness and anguish...

RODERICK: What is it, Stella? You're trembling!

STELLA: Oh, I was wicked. How could I ever have laughed in her house?

RODERICK: But it's my house now. Pam's and mine.

STELLA: But she was so young

And she died so cruelly.

The girl is as possessed and rushes to the cliff

but the pianist saves her just in time!

Is for this reason that STELLA BY

STARLIGHT has one part more carefree in major key

and the other more tense in minor key?

To describe perhaps the moods of the young Stella Meredith?


It is possible…

I don't know…

So there are two moods in this film, both for the Fitzgeralds,

and for Stella.

Do you want to know why?

Watch the movie!

I recommend you look at it in English,

also because in the 1940s

transatlantic or mid-atlantic english was used,

because much more understandable.

It is a mix between American and

British english.

It was used by actors and by

important people in that era.

Use the subtitles in Italian but if

you can understand something,

try to use the english ones

also because,

the musician speaks english,

first of all!

After this initial excursus we can

say that we are starting to study standards

in a truly complete way.

After watching this movie and having

also naturally studied the technical musical part

we can use the cards of historic awareness that is given to us from the knowledge

of the primordial emotions that created this

beautiful movie.

Now, the spontaneous question can be...


It was not the main part

of jazz music?

I think improvisation is a decisive factor

but it is still the result

of the sincere knowledge and interpretation

of the melody.

Melody is the only thing that remains in our heart memory.

Melody is the most important thing within

the music.

Improvisation should be

the other side of the medal of the melody

something that embroiders it, that changes it

somehow and,

if you are very very focused, that improves it!

Remember: melody is the only thing that remains in our heart memory

and it must be performed with

great attention and awareness.

Think about it! ;)

81 views0 comments


bottom of page