19 July 2007

Background Music

I saw, last weekend, a showing of the classic silent film "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," as presented at Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts.

Shelburne Falls is a wonderful scenic place on the Mohawk Trail -- site of the Bridge of Flowers, the glacial potholes, and a Trolley Museum. It all looks touristy enough for the locals to make a steady income, but not touristy enough to attract the kind of crowds that would ruin the charm of it.


Anyway, the movie was preceded by a half hour of hillbilly-style fiddling. When the audience was all properly seated and the curtain was ready to rise, the fiddlers said their leave, and three quite different musicians made their way to the orchestra pit. This was the Devil Music Ensemble -- three men who provide a "live soundtrack" to silent films.

When silent films were new, a pianist (or, perhaps, a player piano -- automation isn't as new as we might like to think) would provide the background music. Of course, with "talkies" the sound track was integrated with the film. But the Ensemble -- by name Brendon Wood, Jonah Rapino, and Tim Nylander -- brings us back to the old days, yet with far more elaboration and wit than I expect their first-generation analogs provided.

I'm not a fan of the silent films, or of the whole pantomiming style of acting they required. There are still admirers of John Barrymore about (what relation is he to Drew, exactly?), but I'm not among them. It just seems "hammy" to me. Still, the DME made the evening more than worthwhile. Congrats to them.

For the rest of you: don't take my word for their excellence. Listen to it yourself (though without the movie the effect isn't the same) here:


No comments:

Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.