The Entertainment Aspect of Music: History of Music in Film By: Kenna Shirvanian
The Goal:• The ultimate goal for my project is to explore the evolution and development of music in film. To fully understand the powerful effect music can have in a film I will briefly provide an overview of the history of music in cinema, and specifically focus on two composers who have greatly influenced and impacted the relationship society now has between music and movies in the Entertainment industry.• The first composer I will look at is the brilliant Cole Porter, well-known for his involvement in The American Songbook. Cole Porter found success in the 1920s composing music for Broadway and over the course of 3 decades transitioned into a beloved film composer, whose music is still prominent in many of today’s films.• The other composer I will look at is Dustin O’Halloran, a young man from L.A., who is quickly becoming a rising star with his “post-classical” piano pieces that have accompanied many recent independent films. Both composers became self-taught pianist at a very young age (Porter at age 8, O’Halloran at age 7).• In addition to including history on both composers I will also provide a short history on their coveted instrument of choice, the piano.• Lastly, I will share the interview I had with my friend, Sio Tepper, another self- taught pianist, who at age 20 is already being hired to compose music and one day hopes to compose music for films.
The History of Music in Cinema: Root of Music in EntertainmentGREEK MELODRAMAS (18th Century): • “cross between a play and fledgling opera” • Spoken words are accompanied with live music • Influential on the rise of operas (specifically number and continuous opera)
Richard Wagner’s Leitmotifs: Ring Cycle• Opera and Drama: In 1851, Wagner wrote his essay addressing the idea of music uniting disparate elements of the plot in a drama• Ring cycle: “themes recurring throughout a work that were meant to evoke associations with an idea, character, or place”• Since the beginning of talkies, composers of movie scores have used this technique from Wagner to associate a particular tune with a character or situation.
The Lumiere Brothers:•Screening of a silent film with piano accompaniment (Dec 28, 1895) Led to the development of entire orchestras accompanying films throughout London Theaters
• The Jazz Singer first of the “talkies” (1927)• After the success of The Jazz Singer producers, score composers, and directors of the 1930s began to seek finding a logical reason for music’s appearance in a film
Citizen Kane: 1941 •Orson Welles collaboration with American film composer Bernard Herrmann •“unique in its use of specially composed music to create an ambience or reveal the psychological goings-on of the movies characters”• “The films frequent use of montage allows the score to create continuity between the images and the passing of time that would otherwise seem awkward and disjointed.”• “Now music was taking a more substantial role - working in tandem with the images and dialogue to enhance the mood and emotion of the film.”
Film Composer: Cole Porter •Born in Peru, Indiana •His mother started him in musical training at an early age; he learned the violin at age six, the piano at eight, and wrote his first operetta at age ten.• “In 1928 Porter composed several songs for the Broadway success Paris, and this led to a string of hit musical comedies” such as Fifty Million Frenchmen (1929), Gay Divorcée (1932), Anything Goes (1934), Red, Hot and Blue (1934), Jubilee (1935), Dubarry Was a Lady (1939), Panama Hattie (1940), Kiss Me, Kate (1948), Can-Can (1953), and Silk Stockings (1955).
Film Composer: Cole Porter After Cole’s success in Broadway he began to transition into film and over the course of 3 decades he wrote countless famous songs for film including: Anything Goes, So in Love, I Get a Kick Out of You, Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall in Love), Night & Day, I Love Paris, You Do Something to Me, and I’ve Got You Under My Skin Many of his songs are still used today in movies, one director in particular who utilizes Porter’s music is director Woody Allen
Cole Porter’s Music in FilmMusic in Woody Allen Film
Film Composer: Dustin O’Halloran “Gained serious recognition with his stunning score to Sofia Coppola’s 2006 film Marie Antoinette and Drake Doremus’ Sundance-winning Like Crazy (2011)” “His arresting, heartbreaking music is as much an elegant exercise in nuance and grace as it is a pure, intuitive, personal expression – and here is where we see some explanation into Dustin’s quiet rise to notoriety and his continued ascension.” “Dustin’s rock background has yielded an unassuming, perceptive approach to composing modern classical pieces.”
Dustin O’Halloran• Films original score: Now is Good (2012), The Other Dream Team (2012), Like Crazy (2011), An American Affair (2008), Remember the Daze (2008)• Films original composition: Marie Antoinette (2007)
Here is a link to his piece Fragile N.4: http://vimeo.com/19745597
History of the Piano• “A family of stringed instruments with a keyboard evolved in Europe in the 14th century. The earliest of these was a dulcimer, a closed, shallow box over which stretched wires were struck with two wooden hammers. The dulcimer led to the development of the clavichord, which also appeared in the 14th century. These were followed by the spinet, virginal, clavecin, gravicembalo, and finally, the harpsichord in the 15th century.” •The harpsichord was Harpsichord: limited to one, unvarying volume, which meant performers couldn’t express softness or loudness with the instrument. Musicians wanted more control over the instrument and this led to the in the invention of the piano.
The Piano:•The piano was first exhibited in Florence in 1709, in Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori’s shop.•This new instrument was named gravicembalo col piano e forte ( “soft and loud keyboard instrument”). Later it was shortened to fortepiano or pianoforte, and then finally just piano.
IN T ER V IEW W IT H SI O T E PPE R• Q: “Tell me about your life in music.”• A: “I started playing piano when I was two years old and started taking lessons when I was four years old. I choose piano, I was never forced into it and I have been playing ever since.”• Q: “What first got you interested in piano?”• A: “I just had an inclination towards the piano and music in general. I find that I have always paid close attention to music, I love listening to it and I have always had a good ear for it. Growing up I was surrounded by music, good music. While my mom was pregnant with me she would play Mozart and George Winston through headphones that she would place on her belly. Music is just so pure and sincere. Good music is just so honest, it’s not trying to be anything it’s not. To me music is prefect.”• Q: “What were your earliest experiences with playing piano?”• A: “My sister had started taking lesson when she was six and I was two. I always idolized my sister and wanted to be like her and be with her. I used to sit quietly under the piano while she would practice and I would go with her to her performances. Later when I was six I got to pick out my own piano. I still have it and love it very much. That year I won a piano competition (Piano Teachers National Association Competition in Los Angeles). I remember watching the other kids playing the piano and they seemed to have no idea what they were really doing. There was no passion and no focus, to them it seemed they were just keys to hit. After I performed my parents were so proud and I even came home with a big trophy. I loved the experience. In that moment I knew performing was for me.”
IN T ER V IEW W IT H SI• O “How did youE P play E R Q: T learn to P piano?”• A: “I started at age two by listening and imitating other I saw playing the piano. I would watch my sister and aunt play and then do what they did. At four I began with lessons and started to become much more intense about playing. As a child I would practice between half an hour to an hour a day. As I grew up I practiced more and more, by sophomore year I was practicing six hours a day.”• Q: “Has anything ever made the practice of piano difficult?”• A: “Yes, you have no idea. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with piano. I want to devote all my time into it and sometimes it just drives me crazy. It can be overwhelming, balancing it between school, friends, boyfriends, and family. There have been times in my life when I can’t balance it all and I don’t have time to practice. Junior year I even injured my wrist and could not practice piano for a while. I imagined myself going on with music to a college like Berklee. I ended up going to UCSB with the intent of majoring in piano. Two quarters in I became less serious about piano and in many ways I was depressed about where I was going with music. I was disappointed with myself and even changed my major.”• Q: “Are there any experiences that stand out in your mind when you were playing piano?”• A: “When I perform, I get in this zone, it’s hard to explain, it feels as if I am mediating, but it’s not an out of body experience, you feel as if you have never been more aware of your self and the music surrounds and sooths you. It is the most beautiful, blissful experience. It’s the best place to be, you feel as if you are entirely giving yourself to the audience through your music, it’s the most amazing experience. You let go completely and become the music. In those moments nothing beside you and the music exist.”
IN T ER V IEW W IT H SI O T E PPE R• Q: “What type of performances have you been a part of?”• A: “Everything from small recitals with my teachers and classmates, to gigs from house parties, art gallery openings, and Christmas parties. I have played as a soloist at the Granada with an orchestra. I have been apart of many piano competitions throughout the world (including Japan). Also I have been hired as an accompanist with others and at a church. I have to say though my favorite type of performance is with ensemble groups.”• Q: “What types of music do you play?”• A: “Classical, jazz, anything. People often ask be to perform all types of songs and do.”• Q: “Where would you like to go in music for a career?”• A: “I don’t know exactly but I want to somehow be able to share my music with people. I would love to be able to share my music in some sort of performance setting, or teaching, or being an accompanist, like I am currently doing.”• Q: “Besides playing the piano do you have any other musical talents?”• A: “I can compose, improvise, and sing songs. I can also sort of play the guitar.”
IN T ER V IEW W IT H SI O T E PPE R• Q: “Who were the most important influences on your music?”• A: “There are so many. George Winston, Vince Guaraldi, my piano teachers Lana Bodnar and Maryland Clemons, the composer Sergei Rachmaninov, also Nina Bodnar a violinist, Mozart, Bach, Oscar Peterson, my family, my boyfriend Thomas and my friend Ben.”• Q: “How has music shaped your life?”• A: “It is my life, it drives my life. To me there is no life without music.”