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Undaunted, I began to collect anything related to the music used in silent-film theaters. My collection received a significant boost a few years later when a man in Iowa answered an ad Id placed that asked for old film music. His reply stated that he had a complete librarymore than 4,000 orchestral arrangementsthat had come from an old theater and asked if I was interested. I couldnt get the check to him fast enough!
At first I prepared scores and parts for classic films such as Phantom of the Opera and Buster Keatons The General. Through my company, Cine-Phonic Music Service, I rented those scores to major symphony orchestras in the United States and Canada for silent-film concerts. In 1996, Shepard called me to do an electronic score for a video release of Douglas Fairbanks 1922 smash hit Robin Hood. Before I even finished the project, I realized that I had found my calling.
Although it was longer and more complex than my previous assignments for Shepard, the score for The Indian Tomb followed the same general process as the others. Heres a brief description of how I created the score.
Work officially began with the arrival of the film on a videotape workprint striped with SMPTE time code. The tape included a time-code window that allowed me to identify the exact location of any scene or piece of action in terms of hours, minutes, seconds, and frames. After screening the film once so I could become familiar with its plot, characters, and action highlights, I went back and broke down the movie into sequences. The running time for each sequence was then computed in minutes, seconds, and frames.
That information became the first draft of the cue sheet that would eventually serve as the blueprint for the entire soundtrack. The cue sheet, however, was subject to frequent revisions during music selection and editing. Often, I combined several sequences or broke down a long sequence into shorter segments. The final cue sheet consisted of 205 sequences running from a few seconds to several minutes in length.
Reprinted with permission from Magazine, March, 2001
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