VOWLS scores Mizoguchi

Composing scores for silent films isn’t new, but creating a score using contemporary and exotic instruments with a unique melting pot of sounds is unique, even though it shouldn’t be, because silents have proven their resilience to changing styles and fickle audiences by giving composers raw elements – stark images, potent emotions, classic themes – to create music that evokes and affects audiences rather then enhancing the obvious filmic elements.

Probably the best examples of a movie inspiring diverse composers is G.W. Pabst’s Pandora’s Box (1929), featuring four scores, and Borderline (1930), featuring a great score by jazzman Courtney Pine.

When Kenji Mizoguchi’s The Water Magician / Taki no shiraito (1933) was screened at the 2nd annual Sinsedai Cinema Festival in North York, Toronto, it marked a special occasion where an original score for a rare surviving work from Japan’s silent film era was performed live for an audience.

I’ve uploaded an interview with composer Brandon Hocura, who performed the score with his group VOWLS in July. Also integrated into the Q&A are some links to music samples, and a few post-performance reviews from other sources worth checking out.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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