3 days to go in the LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON kickstarter (Nov. 20)
Therefore, please, please spread the word to your friends directly and on social media.
So, today’s creative update is about the music in the video and what I envision for the film as a whole. So, exactly how did I meet a Grammy Award winning composer?
Grammy Award winning Partch Ensemble. Alex Wand seated lower left
Los Angeles has a reputation for being a shallow, glitzy, materialistic, non-intellectual place. And there are certainly are many examples where the truth of that is as good as gold. But equally true is that LA is a complex city, with veins and pockets of other under-appreciated precious metals and gems.
So on May 5, 2015, at the rather unlikely location of Western and 2nd Street, I went to see a concert of “micro-tuned” guitars at Monk’s Place – from the outside, it looks like a small warehouse amongst, fairly downscale retail shops, and inside, likewise, industrial with exposed brick walls and uncomfortable, plastic white chairs for seating.
Monk’s Space exterior
It reminded me of the funky little venues I would go to in the East Village and Brooklyn when I lived in NYC.
Exactly, what is “micro-tuning”? As I understand it, it’s an alternate tuning system of in-between notes rather than the standard system used in Western music, and thus sometimes the notes sound unusual and interesting and sometimes, to my ears at least, flat and unpleasantly “out-of-tune”. So, most of the concert was interesting, but too alienating, and for over an hour, just an intellectual curiosity to me.
And then at the very end, Alex Wand came out with a large ensemble of musicians to perform his song cycle “The Great Hunt” using Carl Sandburg poems as lyrics.
Immediately it was a different experience. I was hearing something both tuneful AND unconventionally micro-tuned, with rhythms that sometimes were smooth and sometimes deliberately jerky and syncopated.
I literally felt the excitement coursing through my body and brain. It was new classical music with inflections of folk, blues and rock lurking in the background that suddenly thrusting forward. I was having the rare experience of a true musical discovery, where I wasn’t just hearing a new song, but a new sound… familiar yet utterly unfamiliar.
Alex Wand (right) composer of Sandburg song cycle at Monk’s Place 5-5-15 photo by Erin Barnes
(Here’s the link to Alex’s full piece performed at Monk’s Place https://youtu.be/cRzDB_KciHM)
And also, what I was hearing was so, so close to what I imagined the music major character, Marcus (played by Matt Mercer) in my script would be composing, In the screenplay, I have him performing Bach for Amandine, but also later composing a new classical concerto for marimba, violin and guitar, as a way of expressing his feelings for her.
Matt Mercer as Marcus and Karen Sours as Amandine
So after the Monk’s Space concert, I bee-lined over to Alex. My enthusiasm and praise must have made enough of a positive impact that when I invited him about a month and half later to sit in on the first full reading of the LIMPING TOWARDS BABYLON script, he not only came by on a Sunday summer afternoon but also was impressed enough by the actors and the script to get on board with the project.