By Shakia Stewart, Digital Content Manager

27 October 2017 - 17:27

The orchestra performing live during a screening of Hitchcock's film 'The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog'
Sjuman School of Music performed their brand new musical score live during a screen of Alfred Hitchcock's 1927 silent masterpiece 'The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog'.

As part of the UK/ID Festival 2017 programme, audience members had to unique opportunity to watch two films live-scored for the first time in Indonesia. 

Alfred Hitchcock's The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog was accompanied by a live orchestra performing a brand new musical score, and UK filmmaker and curator George Clark's film A Distant Echo's soundscape was reimagined by Hanyaterra, Jatiwangi’s famous ceramic music collective.

We spoke with Indra Perkasa, a film-score teacher whose students’ composition was played for the Hitchcock film, and Nathania Karina, who conducted the orchestra during the performance, about what it takes to live score a film. 

What are the key things to think about when scoring a film?

First, me and all the students have to watch the movie several times to get to know the story well. The key thing is to know when to change the mood – when to have a fast tempo, a slow tempo. The dynamics are all dictated by the picture.

We’re not just making music, we have to be the pulse of the movie. That’s the challenge given to the students. We usually have three months of making the composition before I contact the orchestra and start the rehearsals. 

We’re not just making music, we have to be the pulse of the movie. 

With Hitchcock, I asked the students to do some research about what the music was like from that era. I also asked them to listen to the composer who used to work with Hitchcock, Bernard Herrman, to learn his style. I think it's good for the students to experience many different styles of music so they can be versatile.

- Indra Perkasa

Indra Perkasa and Nathania Karina
Indra Perkasa, a film-score teacher whose students’ composition was played during the UK/ID Festival and Nathania Karina, who conducted the orchestra for the performance.  
Musicians performing the live score for Hitchcock's film during UK/ID Festival 2017.
"For the musicians it's very challenging because it's unpredictable - but it’s a good experience to work on your stamina, of course!" - Conductor Nathania Karina.Hitchcock's film lasts for approximately 90 minutes. 
Hanyaterra, Jatiwangi’s famous ceramic music collective live scoring George Clark's film 'Distant Echo'
Hanyaterra, Jatiwangi’s famous ceramic music collective, live scored George Clark's film 'A Distant Echo'. 

How do you approach the performance and working with your orchestra?

I think it’s a very rare opportunity here in Indonesia to have the live scoring experience, so it’s a really nice.

For the audience, a live orchestra makes a silent movie more interesting, otherwise it could be very daunting and they don’t really engage. 

Performance wise its actually very difficult. The thing about film scoring is that the picture dictates the music. In one scene you can have someone smiling, and the next someone is being stabbed. And that’s a big change in one second, and can be very challenging for the players. Especially for most of the players who haven’t actually watched the movie! 

The way the music is written is also not conventional. It uses a lot of modern techniques which are not often use in pop songs or classical music. They experiment a lot with sounds, and sometimes the composer has to describe the sound which is different to a musical note. 

Its very important for this kind of project to talk to the composers so we know what sound they want, and its also important to be very precise with the timing. You can’t miss a bar – its very complicated. I conduct with a metronome in my ear, and all the players have one too. 

- Nathania Karina

Read more stories from UK/ID Festival 2017