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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Musical collaboration adds to Silent Films Festival

A lot gets said in silent films and on Friday at 7 p.m. in Faulconer Gallery, the Cultural Films Committee will present a series of silent shorts by filmmakers such as Orson Wells, Man Ray, Hans Richter and Marcel Duchamp with a live musical accompaniment provided by various musical student groups around campus.
The musical styles fall under a broad range, including jazz improvisation, original classical compositions, percussion arrangements and compositions by Freesound. The idea for the festival came from Terri Geller, English, who suggested to the Cultural Films Committee that a number of short films should be shown in Faulconer Gallery. Phillippe Moisan, Associate Professor of French, who is a member of the Cultural Films Committee, thought the festival, which will show roughly 15 shorts presented chronologically, was a change of direction for how cultural films were being presented at Grinnell College.
The majority of the films are from the twenties and forties, the earliest dating all the way back to 1894, all of them originally silent. “You can find DVDs [of] these films but it’s hit or miss, the music can be terrible because producers pick the music and it doesn’t match. The music [in this festival] is very interpretive and it’s going to give you ways to analyze the film.”
Earlier this semester, the CFC contacted the Music Department, which showed interest in the film project and commissioned six or seven music students to create compositions.
In addition to the Music Department’s musical contributions, student-run Freesound is also collaborating in the event, through the connection of Mike Kober ’10. One of the organizers of Freesound, Kober also happens to be in Geller’s Film Analysis class.
“This is Theresa Geller’s idea. She reached out to everybody. The [films] are all definitively avant-garde. This is the next step of the Cultural Films Studies and it’s avant-garde films,” Kober said. The musical accompaniment will range from scores written by Freesound’s various bands, including Randy Brush’s drum collective, as well as a percussion duo and jazz composition.
With some suggestions from Geller in terms of musical direction, Freesound has developed some artistically creative ideas on how to cover the shorts. “It’s going to be lots of different kinds of performances. The fact that it’s so interpretive and interactive will be really interesting,” Kober said. “We’re trying to get the audience into the performance.”

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