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Inside the Silent Orchestra Score

"The real revelation of Image's new transfer, though, is the spectacular score written and performed by The Silent Orchestra. The score is filled with beautiful melodies that perfectly reflect the action. It's innovative and imaginative, and greatly enhances the experience of watching the film without distracting from it. I can honestly say that it was like seeing the film for the first time. Added to the score's effectiveness is the perfect, lush 5.0 recording that includes some very interesting surround effects. "
- Fred Hunter The Classics on DVD

"Our primary goal was to capture the intentions of the film in a way that rings true for the modern audience. While we enjoy classic film music, we feel that contemporary music frequently captures the intended mood in a way that resonates with with today's film audience. With multiple soundtracks DVD technology makes it possible to produce classic film products that preserve authentic musical settings while exploring new possibilites.

We don't feel that ultra-modern scores are necessarily better than original scores. we prefer to balance the qualities that all musical styles have to offer. Parts of our score were influenced by Golden Age film music styles. We looked at many of the great films that were made after Murnau died. Would he have worked with Hugo Friedhofer, or Franz Waxman? What might those collaborations have sounded like?" - Carlos Garza, Silent Orchestra

The Silent Orchestra score also features an approach to sound design that suits the film's Expressionist style. They chose sampled sounds that seemed to defy identification. Lotte Eisner points out in his book, The Haunted Screen, that Murnau was obsessed with inanimate objects and perhaps used them to better effect than many of his contemporaries in German Expressionism.

Why not use sound as Expressionist device? The members of Silent Orchestra felt that, if alive today, Murnau would look for sounds that are grounded in nature yet dreamlike in quality. Murnau would use sound in much the same way that he used natural, yet unusual, visual settings to express the mood of his film. Thus, the scraping gongs and mutant rooster calls were used to create a chilling effect. The swirling surround field created with these sounds draws the viewer into the film.

"For this film we wanted to use sounds that would create an unsettling, mysterious mood (a kind of Wagnerian 'leit motif') for two of the characters - Count Orlock (Dracula) and Knock (Renfield). We found just what we were looking for in the source tapes of electronic music composer Richard McCandless.

For Count Orlock we chose a sample of a bowed tam tam which has been processed by McCandless to produce an intense, grating quality with a complex overtone structure. This sound combined with a minor key cello theme creates the mood for Orlock.

Knock is obsessed with flying insects and spiders in the film, so we chose a buzzing, creepy tam tam sample. This sound is very active when played at many different pitch levels and helps to portray the frenetic personality of the Knock character." - Rich O'Meara, Silent Orchestra

Their score and sound design make this the most frightening version of Nosferatu ever released. They premiered this score in 1999 in the Washington DC area and they performed it again in October of 2000 at the Virginia Film Festival. This performance was a double feature that included a screening of Shadow of the Vampire.

Silent Orchestra is:

Carlos Garza - keyboards and knobs

Rich O'Meara - percussion and more knobs

More information on Silent Orchestra.

 Carlos Garza © 2000 Silent Orchestra

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