the al­ter­na­tive sound­track DOVE­TAIL OR­CHES­TRA

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPO - Jen­nifer Levin

INSe­gundo de Chomón’s 1909 si­lent short film

A Pan­icky Pic­nic, a pas­toral out­ing for a meal in the woods turns creepy and sur­real when mice crawl out of eggshells and worms squirm from a cho­co­late cake — fright­en­ing the men and their lady friend, who had just be­gun to en­joy one an­other’s com­pany. The food, once lus­cious, is now an abom­i­na­tion, and the pic­nick­ers take cover un­der a large para­sol, per­haps be­liev­ing the sky is fall­ing. Later, they ar­rive at a house where cook­ing pots grow ghoul­ish faces and ghostly muses dance in the fire­place.

This early en­try in fan­tasy film­mak­ing is one of 10 si­lent shorts in­cluded in Dove­tail Or­ches­tra’s

Veil at SITE Santa Fe, Fri­day, Oct. 26, and Sat­ur­day, Oct. 27. Dove­tail Or­ches­tra, led by mu­si­cian and com­poser Ross Ham­lin, cre­ates new con­tem­po­rary scores for old movies. Veil is the sec­ond in­stall­ment of this pro­ject. The first, Un­der­score, pre­miered at SITE in Fe­bru­ary 2018. Veil was cre­ated to match the mood of the Hal­loween sea­son. The Fri­day-night show is fol­lowed by a cos­tume party co-spon­sored by Vi­o­let Crown Cin­ema; there is a cash bar for the grown-ups and free clas­sic Hal­loween treats like candy ap­ples and pop­corn balls for the kids, as well as mu­sic by DJ Gar­ronteed. Lo­cal writer and ra­dio per­son­al­ity Ju­lia Gold­berg will dress as As­so­ciate Supreme Court Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg and serve as the judge of the cos­tume con­test.

De Chomón was a Span­ish film­maker born in 1871. He helped de­velop the Pathéchrome process, a sten­cil-based method of film-tint­ing patented in the early 20th cen­tury. He was a con­tem­po­rary — and com­peti­tor — of Ge­orges Méliès, a French film­maker who pi­o­neered many early spe­cial ef­fects like dis­solves and time-lapse pho­tog­ra­phy. Méliès, who came from a fi­nan­cially well-to-do fam­ily, had a back­ground in stage magic. As his in­ter­est in film­mak­ing deep­ened, he de­vel­oped and patented, with Lu­cien Reu­los, the Kinè­tographe Robert-Houdin, a cast-iron cam­era-pro­jec­tor that he used for a few years be­fore oth­ers im­proved upon movie-cam­era tech­nol­ogy. Three short films by each man are in­cluded in Veil. In The Four Trou­ble­some Heads (1898), star­ring Méliès him­self, the dap­per film­maker re­moves his own head and places it on a ta­ble, only to have it grow back sev­eral times.

“Some of the shorts are weird and dark,” Ham­lin said. “In some of them, a lit­tle devil ap­pears and messes with peo­ple. He jumps around, crawls out of the floor, and calls up his min­ions and stuff like that. But they are good for kids be­cause they’re not scaryscary. Just a lit­tle bit un­nerv­ing. They didn’t have a lot of ef­fects back then so they did a lot of ges­tic­u­lat­ing in or­der to con­vey things.”

Ham­lin stud­ied film scor­ing at Berklee Col­lege of Mu­sic in Bos­ton. He moved to Santa Fe in 2004 and taught in the Con­tem­po­rary Mu­sic Pro­gram at the shut­tered Santa Fe Univer­sity of Art and De­sign from 2010 un­til 2018. He now teaches pri­vate mu­sic lessons and plays a few gigs a month with jaz­zori­ented and ex­per­i­men­tal pro­jects. He said Dove­tail Or­ches­tra’s first event at SITE Santa Fe was the most well-at­tended per­for­mance he’s ever given in town, where he hasn’t quite found the au­di­ence for his off­beat aes­thetic. He would like to ex­pand the movi­escore pro­ject into Al­bu­querque and Taos. “The kids love it and the old peo­ple love it — even when the mu­sic gets re­ally weird,” he said.

For Veil, Ham­lin plays acous­tic, elec­tric, bari­tone, and bass gui­tars, the do­bro, ukulele, trum­pet, and key­boards. Lee Steck plays the vi­bra­phone and drums, among other in­stru­ments, and Casey An­der­sen plays cello, up­right and elec­tric bass, pi­ano, and key­board. Ham­lin ex­plains that the pi­ano is a “pre­pared pi­ano” of the type used by com­poser John Cage. “It’s mostly a nor­mal pi­ano, but in the high reg­is­ter and the low reg­is­ter we’re stick­ing wood screws and chunks of rub­ber onto the strings to turn it into a per­cus­sive in­stru­ment.” Ham­lin said the high­light of the live ac­com­pa­ni­ment will be sound ef­fects per­formed by Daniel Carl­ton. The sound de­sign has el­e­ments of old ra­dio the­ater, such as the clip-clop of co­conut shells to rep­re­sent horses’ hooves, as well as com­puter-gen­er­ated sound that is tracked to plot points con­tained in the in­di­vid­ual films, such as ex­plo­sions.

Among the other movies in­cluded in Veil is Ge­orge Al­bert Smith’s Mary Jane’s Mishap (1903), in which a wo­man makes a mess of pol­ish­ing shoes and some­how winds up try­ing to start a fire with a jug full of paraf­fin wax, which is highly flammable. She blasts up through the chim­ney and comes back as a ghost.

One of the length­ier shorts is the 1912 ver­sion of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, di­rected by Lu­cius Hen­der­son, based on Robert Louis Steven­son’s 1886 gothic novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Over the course of about 12 min­utes, ac­tor James Cruze re­peat­edly trans­forms his phys­i­cal­ity and per­son­al­ity be­cause of the ef­fects of a drug that sep­a­rates his char­ac­ter into two sep­a­rate be­ings — one good and one evil. Vin­tage an­i­ma­tion makes an ap­pear­ance in The

Skele­ton Dance, a Walt Dis­ney “Silly Sym­phony” from 1929 that orig­i­nally had mu­sic by Carl Stalling and Ed­vard Grieg. “I didn’t want to use the old mu­sic, so I just stripped it. The skele­tons in a grave­yard are danc­ing around, fall­ing on each other, and play­ing on each other’s spines and rib cages. Their danc­ing helped me find a tempo,” Ham­lin said. In an­other short piece from the same era, Bimbo’s

Ini­ti­a­tion (1931), the dog-like char­ac­ter from old Betty Boop car­toons avoids be­ing sucked into a cult of in­tim­i­dat­ing hooded men — only to be res­cued in the end by a line of danc­ing Bet­tys. That, too, had what Ham­lin called a prim­i­tive sound­track that he re­moved and re­placed with a new com­po­si­tion.

“It’s a good op­por­tu­nity to re­visit the early days of cin­ema — a sim­pler time in a cer­tain sense — and marry that with a mod­ern sen­si­bil­ity,” he said. “The films take on a dif­fer­ent form. You’re go­ing to be hear­ing el­e­ments of jazz, techno, folk, hip-hop, and ex­per­i­men­tal, sound­scapey am­bi­ent stuff.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.