ep. 38: scoring for scenes that suggest or specify a piece of music, and scoring a film from 1948

On this episode Ben talks about meeting an audience’s expectations of a score when a certain piece of music or style is indicated onscreen, and in a rare case of a non-narrative film made after the silent era. Also covered are silent era mood cues and cue sheets, Marion Davies in “When Knighthood Was in Flower”, techniques in performance to match music to action, this episode’s FAQ, and more. Live performance clips include Valentino’s tango dance in “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, Keaton’s pantomime to “The Prisoner’s Song”, and Ben’s new score for Helen Levitt’s “In the Street” (1948).

episode 38: Existing Music, Mood Cues and Cue Sheets

  • Historically authentic accompaniment vs. modern scores for silent films
  • Tango, dancing on-screen and staying in synch with the dancers
  • Ben’s score for Four Horsemen as played at MOMA in November 2019
  • Improvising so that it sounds like a piece that had already been written
  • Listener Erik Andersson talks about The Silent Comedy Watch Party from Salem, Oregon
  • Accompanying a non-narrative documentary, In the Street by Helen Levitt for the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Arthur Kleiner, accompanist for MoMA, and his score for In The Street
  • Ben’s score for In The Street
  • A documentary written and hosted by Arthur Kleiner, Hollywood’s Musical Moods
  • Sponsorship announcement: When Knighthood Was in Flower from Undercrank Productions
  • Pre-existing music: Victor Herbert themes for When Knighthood Was in Flower
  • Performing Steamboat Bill, Jr. exclusively for Cinema Arts Centre via live streaming
  • Acknowledging “The Prisoner’s Song” without risking copyright violation
  • Staying in synchronization with physical action — the “pick up”
  • How playing for live streaming differs from a theatrical performance
  • Preparing applause moments in Buster Keaton films
  • Frequently Asked Questions: Do you use published cue sheets and mood cues? What about music or songs referred to on-screen?
    • Mood cues are often too long and have insufficient changes
    • How expectations of musical underscore changed in the sound era
    • Adapting mood cues as part of an improvised score
    • If the title of a piece of music is shown, you must use it
  • Recommendations:
    • Kerr: The Laurel and Hardy Definitive Restorations from Kit Parker Films
    • Ben: The Spiders by Fritz Lang with a score by Ben from Kino Lorber

Links from the episode:

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