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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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9 Tim Nelson
stream trackload mp3   Soundtrack 2, Act 3
Prior to the Caligari project, my film scoring experience was limited to a number of short films done both by myself and by other student filmmakers in the early 1980's. An important difference, though, was that Caligari was the first time I ever attempted to score to an existing image, rather than fitting the image to the music. As several of the other composers noted during the process, it's harder than it looks!

My plan of attack was to first watch my segment several times, noting the overall mood and the dynamic progression throughout the scene. I plotted the onscreen events out onto a long timechart, notating significant visual cues, the times at which they occured and then scrawling notes all over the timechart regarding moods, textures and possible instrumentation.

As Act III seemed to me to be characterized more by a vague mood of apprehension and angst rather than by specific actions, I chose to build my piece around the idea of a bed of unresolved chords and languid progressions with circular movement, motifs that would rise and build but never actually get anywhere, thus winding the spring for the climactic events of the following acts.

Instrumentation was limited to various gongs, cymbals, wrenches, bells and chimes with cello and an old Yamaha 'Portasound' keyboard. I had originally done more Foleying, but most of it was mixed out of the final version, as it seemed to clutter the mix; the exception is the babble loop heard when the accused killer is being questioned. Recording was split between a Tascam 488 analog 8 track recorder and a desktop PC running Sonic Foundry's Acid v. 1.0, which is almost old enough to have been used on the original Caligari.

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