The Nosferatu project has gone well since my last post earlier this month. Despite the crippling heat, I haven't slowed down much, partly because my workstation is directly in front of an air conditioner. Petra's Roland digital piano serves as instrument and desk, with my main computer sitting on it. It is an older keyboard, and so is only equipped with MIDI I/O - no USB port. This is fine - I find usually that MIDI over USB incurs an unacceptable amount of latency in older products. Instead, I use an EMU 0404 as an intermediary. No perceptible latency with this USB device, and it receives the MIDI from the keyboard. This makes improvising to the moving images on the computer directly in front of me quite easy, though I honestly hardly ever keep a complete improvisation (why, for good or bad, that I do this, could be the topic for my dissertation). At any rate, I like the EMU because it is so small, but don't get me started on Creative Labs' terrible Snow Leopard support - despite their good quality products, they are most certainly a PC driven company.
Updates to the Score:
After the my last post, I chose to tackle the most difficult sections of the live score - the climactic final Act of Nosferatu, and the "masculinity in crisis" introduction, when we first meet the characters. These are difficult in different ways.
The climax of the film has a complex series of potential hit points, in my analysis, combined with a complex contour of anticipation (tension) and realization (release).
The introduction of the film is bizarre in that the uncanny, slightly excessive frame rate, combined with Hutter's boyish, Dandy-like antics, push the envelope for what is acceptable in a male protagonist. Of course, this view of acceptable male acting, now almost one hundred years after this film was made, is anachronistic - the actor playing Hutter was perfectly within the norms of acting at that time. His histrionic style, as was popular then, communicates emotions more through body language, rather than through dialogue and the "grain of the voice" (Roland Barthes' essay of the same name is surely applicable outside of music, to speech in acting).
Another section that I completed was the epic journey up Borgo pass, as it is known in Dracula (the pass is unnamed in Nosferatu). In this section, I tip my hat to Werner Herzog (and Richard Wagner), whose 1979 rendition of the Nosferatu / Dracula tale is influential to me, despite being another anachronism in relation to the Murnau version.
I will present the three new sections of music in the order they appear in the film. First we will see the rather plainly titled "Hutter and Ellen's Waltz," wherein the seeds of their destruction are already evident. This is a fairly plain Waltz, without (many) metric eccentricities, because these are saved for later developments in the music and plot.
Then, we will see Hutter's march, onward and upward to the top of "Borgo Pass." This motoric music is thickened greatly by the use of delay lines at regular metric intervals, which give the illusion of four contrabasses and four bass clarinets.
Finally, I will present some of the music from the final act, under the title "Lacu Miseriae," Latin for "Pit of Misery." This will be accompanied by stills, rather than the moving image, for I do not want to give too much of the score away (come to the show in October!). These are "double" stills - artifacts of oversampling the older, slower frame rate with the faster NTSC 29.97 fps. They depict scene transitions that are half the pixels of one scene with half of another - and they are almost always eerie in the their implications. There is always hidden beauty in the accidental artifacts of our technology.
Hutter and Ellen's Waltz