During this past Winter, I worked on a project where I had to compose a score for the 1928 silent film, Beggars of Life. It’s one of my favorite projects that I’ve developed.
William Pence, co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival and Film Director at the Hopkins Center at Dartmouth College, asked me to create some musical accompaniment for a restored version of Beggars of Life set to premiere during the Pordenone Silent Film Festival at Dartmouth on February 2nd. He said he wanted something non-traditional in the realm of musical accompaniment for Silent Film and asked that I incorporate some amount of computer music. I put together a patch in Max/MSP that incorporated different modules for sample playback, processing and manipulation, and ended up with a live performance environment that I play throughout the entire film.
The sample library that I compiled consists of prepared piano, plucked double-bass, and various sounds created by playing a music stand with a bow. To guide the performance, I sat facing the screen and used the film to direct what I played on my computer.
Here’s a link to an entire take on my Bandcamp page. I’ve separated it into a few different parts so that it’s easier to navigate. I haven’t gotten clearance to set my take to the restored version of the film and upload it, so that’ll have to wait. (quick tip: There’s a version of Beggars of Life on youtube with some other musical accompaniment. This one, however, runs for about 1 hour and 42 minutes. My audio was set to a restored version that runs for about 1 hour and 22 minutes).
For more information on the music and how the patches work, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.