LIVE SOUNDTRACKS FOR SILENT MOVIES
My music in general, it has been suggested, is very cinematic. Movies and movie Soundtracks have always been a fascination and one way to get to score a movie,without waiting to be asked, is to invent one for an old silent classic – although recently more contemporary films have entered my repertoire. My career in presenting concerts of Live Music For Silent films was initiated by John McAuslan artistic director of the Brunswick Music Festival in Melbourne/Australia when he invited me to perform TABU by FW Murnau in 1995 and I presented a new film every year for 18 years at that festival until 2013.
I have kept most of the films presented in Melbourne in my repertoire and I have given concerts and workshops at many other festivals, cinema clubs, arts spaces, university media departments and even folk clubs, private houses, tiki bars and other venues of all shapes and sizes around the world.
My interest in live music with silent films came about initially as a result of my interest in Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultures. I discovered that in the late 1920s and early 30s one of favourite Hawaiian bands, the Tau Moe Family had toured the world as Madame Rivieres Hawaiians. Madam Riviere herself gave lectures about the Pacific and its cultures illustrated with lantern slides with live musical accompaniment. Irene West and her Royal Hawaiians had done something similar with Sam Ku playing steel guitar during the same period. Both troupes incidently ended up in Singapore. I also became aware of the traveling picture shows that had existed here in Italy where I live and in Australia and that in America in the 1950s early surf film makers such as Bruce Brown, John Severson and Jim Freeman took their own underground surf movies around rented cinemas and played them with live voice over commentary and recorded music, usually jazz. I wanted to do something with that spirit.
There is seldom anything generic about my soundtracks. I play mainly Lap Steel Guitar processed with digital effects and two small digital samplers. My soundtracks are both scored and improvised depending on the film.
My aim is to try for an accompaniment which is as contemporary or avant garde now as these films would have been when they were first seen. My approach depends on the films form and structure, context and location and I usually avoid direct musical comment on the action occuring on screen or involve myself in the usual cliches of cinematic musical signification.
Recently I added HIPSHOT FILMTRACKS to my HIPSHOT cdr record label and examples of my soundtrack work for TABU and AELITA-QUEEN OF MARS are now available from me or at concerts. Go to HIPSHOT SOUNDTRACK SERIES for more information.
Technical requirements –
I have most of these films on DVD but if original prints can be arrange so much the better.
DVD player / Projector / Screen of adequate dimension for the venue (i.e. not too small) / Sound System P.A. with minimum four channel mixer / One microphone and boom stand / Small table 1metre x 60cm minimum/ One chair / Power points and an audience.
The mixer needs to be close to me or with sufficiently long connecting cables to reach my table which should be positioned in front of the audience close to the screen and to one side.
For the Oktober Orkestra – Que Viva Mexico technical requirements please contact me.
CLASSIC SILENT FILM REPERTOIRE
WHITE SHADOWS IN THE SOUTH SEAS – W.S.Van Dyke –
TABU – f.w. murnau. – http://www.cooparia.com/projects/silent-movies/tabu
LEGONG – Henri de la Falaise, Robert Sidney. –
QUE VIVA MEXICO – Sergei Eisenstein – http://www.cooparia.com/current-groups/que-viva-mexico-orchestra
MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA – dziga vertov.
STRIKE – sergei eisenstein.
OCTOBER – sergei eisenstein.
SOUTH – frank hurley.
ONIBABA – (1964) Kaneto Shindo.
LAST PARADISE – (1956) Folco Quilici.
PEARL OF THE SOUTH SEAS – (1926/2007) – Frank Hurley – Post Modern Re-Mix
THE COLOUR OF POMEGRANATES – (1968) – Paradjanov.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON INDIVIDUAL FILMS FOLLOW THE LINKS.