Thursday, February 26, 2009

Rats, people, motion pictures and poetry orchestras

I don't know why I was trying to use the diving metaphor.

"We do what you do," I was trying to say, "except we do a reverse half gainer of it."

I was trying to say we do it backwards, but with a twist. Did I get that right? I never did know my names of dives.

I was talking to Brien Seyle and Matt Pace of The Rats and People Motion Picture Orchestra. (By the way, "Brien" sounds like "Brian"; I had seen his name written before I heard it spoken, and kind of hoped for some kinky, olde English pronunciation: not so.)

We overlapped, last night, on the agenda of Brett Lars Underwood. Brett has booked them into the upstairs space at The Tap Room for a live performance of Go West, the great silent film by Buster Keaton, on Friday, March 13. I had booked Brett for company to see The May Day Orchestra - which also features Brien and Matt - live at City Art Supply on Cherokee Street.

During the overlap there at The Tap Room, I was trying to tell these guys that Poetry Scores does the same thing they do, only backwards and with a twist.

They take existing silent films, score them musically, and then perform their score live as the film screens. I like this sort of thing as much as it is possible to like anything, I was telling them. If I miss anything about living in New York, as I did for six years, it's that any night I found myself with social time, I could always find someone, somewhere, playing live music to a silent film, which is my favorite form of entertainment.

I like it so much, I would say it changed how I make music and even turned me into an amateur moviemaker. For many years I have set poetry and traditional texts to music, but it was over the years I began to seriously cherish live scores to silent films that I began to score long poems and call them "poetry scores," and then to fantasize - and, in one instance, actually accomplish - writing, shooting, and editing a silent film to accompany the score.

That was Blind Cat Black, which Brien surprised me by saying he had seen. I was so happy and so grateful for the new connection that I produced a copy of the CD to the Blind Cat Black score, as well as the score to Leo Connellan's Crossing America, from my car and gave them to Brien.

When we got to the art store gig, Matt reciprocated by giving me a CD copy of their score to Go West. So I then tipped him a copy of the K. Curtis Lyle book we published. It was a little culture swap orgy going on.

Now, all I have got to do is find myself with an opportunity for a social life on a night when these guys are doing their thing. It hasn't happened so far, though I have been admiring them afar through calendar listings and FaceBook events invites, and it isn't going to happen on Friday, March 13, when they will be performing live to Go West in St. Louis and I will be doing something just as cool, one would hope, in Los Angeles, my favorite city.

That there March 13 Tap Room silent film show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 and thoughtfully include your first pint. Don't make it your last. Unless you're a drunk! In which case, don't have any beer! Tickets are to be had online.


Image is a still from Go West, I think; haven't seen the film in awhile, but I will this weekend, while listening to my Rats and People score and thinking fondly of these talented chaps.


Tony Renner said...

man, rats and people motion picture orchestra were so great playing their score to "go west" at off broadway... the cd holds up, too....

i've got a cd of learn, artist!'s "score" for keaton's "the love nest" that we performed that same night....

and i found that waterboys tape, too...!

life is sweet....

-- tony

Thom said...

That image is from the General, but I think the idea is present in all Keaton's work (best train footage ever in "Our Hospitality"

Confluence City said...

Tony, I'd like copies of any and all of aforesaid music.

Thanks, Thom - I had a feeling Google Image had this one wrong.