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An Exquisite Corpse

NEMO 019
year: 2007

project coordinator:Rob Switzer

Eleven composers collaborated in Exquisite Corpse fashion to produce two brand new soundtracks for the German Expressionist Classic The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari.

The film with the new soundtracks is available for free download from archive.org under a Creative Commons license (Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0).

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1 Fastus
stream trackload mp3   Soundtrack 1, Act 1
My approach to film music has been shaped by the soundtracks of "Clockwork Orange" (Walter Carlos), "American Beauty" (Thomas Newman) and "Owning Mahowny" (Grassby-Lewis, Jon Hassell, Tim Norfolk), music of distinct character that works beautifully with the film, but is of sufficient interest to provide a fulfilling listening experience on its own. What I wanted to avoid was writing the traditional "incidental" music.

Act 1 has a lot of work to do. In roughly 10 minutes it establishes a narrative and setting, introduces the major characters and frames an array of opposing themes that appear throughout the film: light vs. dark, young vs. old, good vs. evil, control vs. powerlessness. The five scenes of the act are varied and distinct from one another, so I wanted each movement of the music to reflect that individuality.

As discrete, stylistically distinct pieces, each is concerned with the the most prominent quality of the scene. The spooky theremin-style sound in Scene 1, "In the Garden", echoes the ghostly appearance of Jane, as she floats spirit-like past the narrator. Scene 2, "Appearance of Evil", introduces the villainous Dr Caligari with heart-racing anxiety. In Scene 3 "My Friend Alan" the ill-fated lad is presented as young, buoyant and idealistic by an up-beat melody and percussion. The agonized and slow moving Scene 4, "Permitting Murder" conveys the near comical frustration of the impatient Dr Caligari, rendered momentarily impotent by the archetypically inefficient bureaucracy. Scene 5, "Prescient" paints an ominous picture of the evil to come, not yet apparent to the cheerful, sun-washed crowd.

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