Scoring for a wordless movie

Hello,  I am completely new to this forum,  but I am hoping to get some ideas.

I am intending to make a full-length film called "Resurrection".  What,  among other things, will make it so different from other films is that there will be no words at all in it,  except for the name at the beginning,  and that briefly in many languages.

Since it will be wordless,  the soundtrack will be critically important.  Each of the 8 major characters will have his or her own leit-motif and timbre  The blending of these leit-motifs will be a real challenge.  What will make it even more challenging is that I will probably take all the music from J S Bach or at least from the baroque or classical periods,  for one thing since it is in the public domain.

I have MANY questions.  Let me start with this one.  What hurdles will I run into in using this music?  And where should I get it?

If I get a response,  I will only too gladly go on with other questions.

Thanks,

Frank

You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –

Replies

  • My understanding is that while such music may be public domain the recording or production of it may not. The orchestra or their publisher is likely to own the right to that recorded version though there may be a resource for public domain recordings of classical works. These are likely to be older recordings that are of lower fidelity however - live recordings or transfers from vinyl and so forth. I certainly would not simply buy a CD of Bach and use it even if it is a budget label as there are likely to be license restrictions preventing it from use outside pure listening.

    Your options are 1 buy the license or rights to existing recordings 2 find public domain recordings 3 commission your own production either through musicians or samples 4 gain permission from the rights holder to use recordings 5 steal them and hope no-one notices!

  • My understanding is that while such music may be public domain the recording or production of it may not. The orchestra or their publisher is likely to own the right to that recorded version though there may be a resource for public domain recordings of classical works. These are likely to be older recordings that are of lower fidelity however - live recordings or transfers from vinyl and so forth or which disallow commercial usage. I certainly would not simply buy a CD of Bach and use it even if it is a budget label as there are likely to be license restrictions preventing it from use outside pure listening.

    Your options are 1 buy the license or rights to existing recordings 2 find public domain recordings 3 commission your own production either through musicians or samples 4 gain permission from the rights holder to use recordings 5 steal them and hope no-one notices!

  • Thanks. That is sort of what I thought. I will probably commission the works. I will want to have control of the timbres, the keys, and the tempos in any case. An example would be the first movement of "Christ Lag in Todesbaden" for an overture. I guess that the present available recordings of it are individual and "signature" enough that they can be distinguished by, say, Youtube. Are there any "libraries" of such material that offer it free? As, for example, a midi file? Is there a computer program that you would suggest to manipulate the keys, timbres, and tempos?

    Thanks again.
  • Here is an additional question related to the blending of leit-motifs and Bach.  Would it be possible to take a Bach choral,  given the great voice leading in all four parts and reposition the parts so as to feature the alto,  tenor,  or bass as a leit-motif of its own?  At a later point the harmonies would already be aligned.  Does this even make sense?  Would that create issue with parallel fifths?  Bach probably did something like this.  Maybe often.  But I don't simply mean counterpoint.

  • In a way it makes sense. Some of Bach's music is contrapuntal / polyphonic so among his work there'll be those pieces where the separate voices are in fact melodic in themselves. They also tend to imply the harmony. Clearly a fugue wouldn't serve your purpose as the "voices" would be similar. though the countersubjects may not and could provide a common link. It may be possible to preserve the Bachness with some judicious development/variation. You need 8 leit-motifs so that might be an answer.

    Then again, composing Bach/baroque-styled lines shouldn't be too difficult. It wouldn't make a composer a Bach but something should be possible as long as the leit-motifs cohere adequately to cover the relationships between your characters.

    Just a suggestion.

  • I'd suggest there is a clear opportunity for collaboration. There are other discussions on this board about new and old musical and compositional styles. Why is centuries old music played more often than new.
    The answer being the comfort factor for listeners.
    There are many composers who learn their trade by emulating existing works. They do it because the formula works. The tried and tested sound already exists and the variations are endless.
    Rather than pay licencing for existing work, why not publish a playlist of your soundscape and someone can recreate it with new music, which probably replicates but does not copy the original.
    Many people will contribute work for the pleasure of hearing their piece cemented into a distributed film or other media beyond their own listening circle.
  • Thank you Dane!  It cheers me greatly simply to know that the way I am thinking is not complete nonsense.  The best of all,  probably,  would be for an extremely capable composer to take the entire task on with all original music.  But,  actually I am not too sure of that.  Since I last posted,  it occurred to me that the first movement of "Christ Lag in Todes Banden"  could make a wonderful overture -- a little like Grieg's "Piano Concerto"  for the movie "Song of Norway".  Also,  since there are five proposed Acts,  there could be 4 entr'actes which could be independent of the leit-motifs.    Still more,  there is a Coda planned.  That should be glorious and joyful and even though no character has a trumpet as his timbre the the last movement of the second Brandenburg Concerto would probably be great.  Thanks again!

  • A great suggestion Graeme.  Thanks.  I am glad  I got onto this forum.  A development from just this evening is that I am now in contact with some Portuguese musicians.  I suspect,  though,  that they are not "composers" but more like "free spirits".  Not sure if that could work to put the whole soundtrack together.  It also occurred to me that I could describe what I am seeking as a score for a full ballet but not intended for dancing (except maybe here and there).  How about Bach,  Wagner,  and Haydn ("The Seasons")  collaborating on a ballet.  Hard to imagine.  (And I'm not serious here.)

  • This is Frank again,  working on the score for a wordless movie.  I have soooo many questions and would like input.  The responses that I got here already spurred me on.  I now have a playlist of potential musical "quotes"  which I would like to use.  They are almost all from Renaissance through "classical"  sources.  I have made a video in which I lay the problem out,  but there will be more videos.  I am looking at 5 Acts.  with Bach at the beginning and Bach at the end. Orchestrated as with a Renaissance "band".  Perhaps only 8 timbres. 

    A question I could ask right now is to what extent do you think it is possible to vary the "tone"  (I mean by that "attitude")  from one act to another.  I know that movements in works normally vary in tone,  but I would be stretching the envelope.  e.g. from "Chirst Lag in Todesbanden"  to "Country Gardens,  "Happy Farmer",  and "Oats, Peas, Beans" and eventually and finally back to Bach with "Cum Sancto Spiritu" by the Coda to Act 5.  Is this possible?

    As before,  I would so greatly appreciate input.  I describe my efforts at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QfgQlc9mx7c

    And the playlist as it stands now is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ffg4mU7FNE&list=PLuJbg6eLC7Y1H...

    ANY input would be appreciated.

  • At first I mis-read the question, so what I thought of doesn't apply to what you were actually asking about, but the topic reminded me of a film I saw while studying abroad in Martinique (a French island  in the Caribbean) called "Le bal." It's a feature length film that depicts the history of a dance hall in France without any dialogue--just showcasing the history of dancing and social interaction. Pretty interesting and maybe worth checking out since it's similar to your project in the non-dialogue way.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcxZhFd0Pt8

This reply was deleted.