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October 02, 1987 - Image 89

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-10-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

B

One of the tools of Sobel's trade is the editing machine.

MOVIE
MUSIC
MAN

Former Detroiter Curt Sobel
has earned Hollywood's
respect for his music editing
talents

DEBBIE WALLIS LANDAU

y his own admission, Curt
Sobel was a teen-age home-
body. While other young-
sters were out partying, he
preferred picking out guitar chords
and composing original tunes.
. During his pre-Hied days at the
University of Michigan, he directed
the Ann Arbor Free Clinic for poor
people. Music was his love, medicine
his planned career.
The music won out.
Today, the 34-year-old former Oak
Park resident is the Hollywood music
editor whose deft handling of lip sync
has contributed so enormously to the
recent hit film La Bamba.
Although his name might not be
the first mentioned in credits, it is one
which industry moguls en-
thusiastically salute when tallying
the movie's success.
By now, enlightened viewers may
have learned that Lou Diamond
Phillips, who plays the film's Ritchie
Valens, didn't even speak, let alone
sing, Spanish. He also had to learn to
play guitar for the role.
Thanks to Sobel's painstaking
studio hours of lip reading, repetitious
sound splicing, perfecting endless
recordings with Phillips and the film's
band, Los Lobos, the finished product
is smooth, synchronized and
convincing.
Sobel is one of only about 20 in-
dependent movie music editors out of
a total of nearly 90 in Hollywood to-
day. He's usually hired by a composer,
producer, - director or film editor to
come in after completion of filming
for a screening. With the composer,
Sobel evaluates the movie's message,
and how music can help convey it. Is
orchestral music in order? Would
source music from radio or another_
medium be preferable? Most impor-
tant, where does the music fit into the
total film?
All of Sobel's technical and
creative abilities were utilized in La

Bamba. Besides supervising all the
dubbing, all the re-takes of songs and
instrumentation, he also composed
the film's second dream sequence.
"I'm not going to pretend it's easy
work. It can be very monotonous, very
draining. The song Come On, Let's Go,
for example, had to be recorded 30
times before it was right."
Asked why Phillips' role was
dubbed with the voice of someone
other than the real Ritchie Valens,
Sobel explains, "That would have
been the ideal. But that music was
decades old and we couldn't adapt the
recording to current instrumentation
without ruining it. Music was done on
mono tracks in the '50s and '60s."
Elaborating, he outlined what a
music editor's true value is to the
director, producer and composer
today.
"Film editors work off a single
mono track. You can't always hear the
individual elements. If, say, you want
to refine the bass or the piano, on
mono track you'd be affecting all the
instruments?'
Contrarily, Sobel gets everything
transferred from a 24-track tape to
separate pieces of tape with each in-
strument on its own track. He can
delete, add or change a single nuance
or cue without destroying the other
elements.
A pressing challenge he faced
earlier in his career occurred during
the opening scene of the 1985 Taylor
Hackford film White Nights.
"Twyla Tharp had choreographed
a scene with 71/2 minutes of
Baryshnikov's ballet. But there were
only five minutes of music to accom-
pany it. We had to extend the music,
and we ended up re-recording the
ballet, watching with a hawk's eye
wherever Baryshnikov's foot made an
impact that would have called for
specific music?'
To date, Sobel's energies have in-
fluenced the success of such prior hits

Special to The Jewish News

I GOING PLACES

WEEK OF OCTOBER 2-8

SPECIAL EVENTS

FOCUS HOPE
Industry Mall, 1400
Oakman Blvd., Detroit,
Walk for Justice, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 11, 833-7440.
MARCH OF DIMES
Towne and Country
Interiors, Telegraph and
Long Lake, West
Bloomfield, fashion show, 7
p.m. Wednesday, admission,
423-3207.

MUSIC

DETROIT SYMPHONY

Ford Auditorium, Detroit,
Detroit Symphony Chorus,
8:30 p.m. Saturday,
admission, 567-1400.

DETROIT INSTITUTE
OF ARTS
5200 Woodward Ave.,
Detroit, Brunch With Bach,
10 and 11:30 a.m. Sunday,
admission, 832-2730.

UNIVERSITY MUSICAL
SOCIETY.
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, Rackham
Auditorium, Norwegian
Chamber Orchestra, 8 p.m.
Thursday, admission,
764-2538.

LYRIC CHAMBER
ENSEMBLE
Orchestra Hall, Detroit,
Beethoven trios, concert,
3:30 p.m. Sunday,
admission, 357-1111.

FARMINGTON
COMMUNITY CENTER
24705 Farmington Rd.,
Marcus Belgrave, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, admission,
477-8404.

CENTER STAGE SERIES
Varner Recital Hall,
Oakland University,
Rochester, Pontiac-Oakland
Symphony, 3 p.m. Sunday,
admission, 370-3013.

THEATER

SHAW FESTIVAL
Niagara-On-The-Lake,
Ontario, Peter Pan, now
through Oct. 11,
(416)468-2172.
GREAT LAKES DINNER
PLAYHOUSE
31 N. Walnut, Mt. Clemens,
cocktails 6 p.m., dinner
6:30 p.m., Greaseā€ž now
through Oct. 10, admission,
463-0340.
JTL PRODUCTIONS
RJ's Bar and Grill, 13330
E. 10 Mile Rd., Warren,
Nuts, 8:30 p.m. Fridays and

Saturdays through Oct 17,
admission, 264-4463.
BIRMINGHAM
THEATRE
211 S. Woodward,
Birmingham, 42nd Street,
now through Oct. 11,
admission, 644-3533.
VILLAGE PLAYERS
Hunter Blvd., Birmingham,
The Sunshine Boys, 8:30
p.m. today and Saturday,
admission, 644-2075.
MEADOW BROOK
THEATRE
Oakland University,
Rochester, Guys and Dolls,

Continued on Page 59

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

57

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