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September 24, 1992 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-09-24

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The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc. September 24, 1992 Page 1

Who knew?
W its en blood sees blood of
its own, it sings to see it-
self again, it sings to hear the voice
it's known,..."
-Suzanne Vega, "Blood Sings"
It had been at least four years
since I'd seen her. I have to run into
her here, of all places. She still
looked the same. Those same tiny

hands, the crooked smile, those
eyes... Were we really ever that
young? A hug, a kiss, "It's so nice
to see you." Promises to call. Yeah,
Three days later, and we're
speeding down Woodward Ave.,
destined for the PublicEnemy show
at the Phoenix Center (a.k.a. "The
Parking Lot"). So much has hap-
pened since we've last seen each
other. Some good, some bad, just
life. Still, it feels as though there
has been no time lost between us.
It's so familiar, so right. Being with
her somehow validates so much for
me. Reminiscing quickly turns into
confessions. Who knew?
We've all (hopefully) been in
love, or at least thought we were in
love. Even if it was just a devastat-
ing middle school crush, there's
always that first love, that one per-
son, who until the end of time, owns
you. Thatno matter what, can make
you feel like no one else. That can
make you feel something. How
many times have we dreamed of a
second chance, the opportunity to
do it over again, and to do it right?
Even from the car, the beat is
hittin.' Run blunt-eyed up endless
stairs to the show. Turn the corner
and BOOM. Bass kicks hard in the
chest. We're here.
No matter how many times I see
Public Enemy, they never fail to
blow me away. To say so much, so
loud, is quite a feat. "Don't Believe
The Hype," "Fight The Power,"
"Hazy Shade Of Criminal," (a soon
to be classic) they blaze through a
killer set. She just keeps smiling
and saying "wow." I try to take
notes, but she won't let me.
"Don't write it, feel it."
A year in London, one in Dublin,
a few months in Paris. "Life's too
short to spend in one place," she
would always tell me. "You
wouldn't believe the things I've
How we ended up downtown,
I'll never know. Sitting outside at
Nikki's, drinking really bad red
wine. "Remember how dramatic
we were? Two kids so in love. Ev-
erything was always so life or
death." Much laughter.
"I really miss it."
It's so warm for a late Septem-
ber night. Cars drive by and honk.
Someone yells. She pulls back and
looks at me. "I waited all night to do
Opportunity is such a weird
thing. It's something everyone longs
for, but as soon as it taps us on the
shoulder, we run from it scared as
hell. Gotta go to class, gotta get
good grades, gotta do that. Be cool,
stay secure, don'tblow it. "Butdear,
there's just no money in it...."
A guitar sits in the corner, gath-
ering dust. Atleastit still has strings.
Her plane for L.A. took off two
days ago, but you can still feel her
presence. Perfume on a pillow, a
forgotten T-shirt.You feelsocheesy
for thinking this way.
"Detroit will always be here.
See the world. Fall in love with
someone who speaks a different
language than you. Life's just too
short" she said before she left.


After conducting the De-
partment of Filmn and
Video Studies' trium-
phant presentation of
D.W. Griffith's "Intol-
erance "last year at the Michigan
Theater, Gillian Anderson has re-
turned again this weekend to conduct
Douglas Fairbanks' "The Thief of
Bagdad. " A music specialist at the
Library of Congress, Anderson has
become interested in performing and
restoring silentfilm scores, while also
conducting orchestras around the
world. Last June, she became the first
woman to ever conduct the Garde
Republicaine in Paris, which she
termed "Mitterand's own band. "Most
recently she made "some very impor-
tant discoveries" about Chaplin film
scores, details about which are forth-
For now, she'll conduct Mortimer
Wilson's "Thief' score live with the
Michigan Sinfonietta, which, accord-
ing to Anderson, is a "terrific" local
professional ensemble. She'll also
deliver afree lecture about the score
on Thursday. For those who've never
heard music performed live with a
film, or those wondering why they
should bother to see what can hardly
be called a greatfilm, Anderson has a
few words. And notes.
Daily: How did you come to con-
duct "The Thief of Bagdad"?
Gillian Anderson: We had the
original score in parts for it. It looked
like it was a pretty sensational piece
of music, and I took a look at the film
and liked that too.
D: What about the score, in par-
tin nr manit worth conducting?

GA: It's one of the ten best(scores)
ever written for a silent film any-
where in the world. And it's fantasti-
cally well written as a musical com-
position. Very great deal of variety
and imagination used both in terms of
the motifs for the various characters
and scenes and situations. A lot of

contradiction. What exactly does that
GA: First of all, the term silent
film was not used until after sound
film came in. It was used to contrast
what had come before with what they
had then. Really, the term is very
misleading. The presentations of both
sound and silent film are never silent.
There's always music and sound that
accompanies film, and there always
has been. The difference is that the
music in the so-called silent period
was live. The music in the sound
period is canned. And so in the silent
era you had live musical presenta-
tions with the mechanical moving im-
age, and in the sound era you have a
mechanical soundtrack on the me-
chanical moving image.
D: Was the score performed at
most showings of the movie?
GA: No, it was only performed in
places where the orchestra was up to
playing it, because it's very, very
hard to play. A film would tour
the country -any film would TC
tour the country - and the ones fre
that were big feature films, like Vii
this one, would sometimes have Wi
a special score written for them. SA
That special score would be used "T
in some of the major theaters the
... with an orchestra of twenty- co
six pieces or more. And there liv
were about five hundred orches- $1
tras of that size, anywhere from
twenty-six to ninety-some pieces.
And then there were smaller theaters
that had orchestras of ten pieces, that
was also a very common number. I
don't know how many there were of
those, but there were lots. And then in
only the very smallest neighborhood

theaters and the smallest towns would
you have only a keyboard. Basically,
the film would tour the country and in
many places the score that was played
or the music that was accompanying
the film would be just improvised.
And sometimes it would be what they
call a cue sheet. There was a cue sheet
for "The Thief of Bagdad" that called
for music that was commonly owned
by theaters. And they'd put this music
together for the performance.
D: Did you have to reconstruct
this score?
GA: In this particular case I did
not reconstruct the score. What I did
was to make a performing edition
from the already existing score parts.
Sometimes it's a lot more difficult
than that. Sometimes I do reconstruct
the score, as on "Intolerance." With
"Intolerance" we also had the score in
parts but we reconstructed the film
using the music. In this case, the film
DAY: Gillian Anderson will deliv
e lecture at 4:00 in MLB 1 entitled"
tal Emotional Symphony: Mortimer
Ilson's score for 'The Thief of Bagda
ATURDAY: A restored version of th
he Thief of Bagdad" will play at 8 p.
Michigan Theater, with Gillian And
nducting the Michigan Sinfonietta in
e musical accompaniment. Tickets ar
5, $13 for members and $10 for stud

to be made playable, in this case there
were just literally hundreds and hun-
dreds of errors in the parts. One ver-
sion of the score has five hundred
beats too many, and one has five hun-
dred beats too few. We had to figure
out what the hell was going on ...
D: How's the Michigan Theater
for these showings?
GA: The Michigan Theater is an
old movie palace. It's the perfect set-
ting. It's very infrequently that you
get a chance to see one of these pre-
sentations in its original setting. A lot
of the old movie palaces are either
destroyed, or they've been redone in
a way that makes this impossibleI
Often when you see live musical pre-
sentations of a silent film it's in either
a modern concert hall, where you're
miles from the screen, in which the
concert hall is setup to be good acous-
tically but was very, very poor in
terms of the visual image; or you get
set up in some theater where
it's not anywhere nearly as
er a appropriate. In this case you
A really will get a feeling for the
way it was in the twenties.
Ed.' D: What led you to spe-
e cialize in these silent film
m. at scores?
erson GA: Iwasdoingeighteenth
a century music andijust wanted
re something greasy and senti-
ents. mental. And so I chose film
I've always been fascinated
by anything that moves to music -
ballet, dance, film. I'm really not a
film fanatic. I don't go to the films
that often. But I'm very, very inter-
ested in how the two things work
See ANDERSON, Page 7

very imaginatively orchestrated mu-
sic to capture the special effects, like
the flying carpet motif uses a glock-
enspiel. Each of the special effects,
like the flying horse, has a different
theme. Each of the three miserable
characters - the suitors for the prin-
cess' hand has his own music. And
it's very cleverly and very attractively
written. And just the way it's orches-
trated, the colors of the orchestra and
the way the orchestrations are done
and the numbers of the solos for the
parts, the way they are handled is just
D: To most people, the term "si-
lent film score" would sound like a

and the music exists, and it's just a
question of preparing it for a modern
performance, and that's very time con-
suming. The synchronization still
needs to be done between the score
and the film. And then the parts have


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