Mark of Zorro with a Score DVD
Mark of Zorro with a ScoreDVD
HESPERUS Tina Chancey, viola da gamba, renaissance violin, recorder Grant Herreid, baroque guitar, vihuela, tenor Priscilla Smith, recorders, shawm, renaissance bagpipe, crumhorn, soprano Nell Snaidas, soprano, renaissance guitar Silent films were never meant to be silent; they were intended to be performed with musical accompaniment. During the current silent film revival, musicians are approaching that challenge in a number of creative ways. Some are finding and reconstructing the original music written for a film when it was first produced. Others are writing their own scores, in every style from atonal music to jazz. More than a few old theaters have renovated their mammoth theater organs, and keyboard players improvise soundtracks today as they did in the 20s. HESPERUS is doing something different. We have crafted a soundtrack of music centered upon the time and place the film was set, early 19th century California, and perform the music on copies of period instruments. Actually, we've expanded our parameters to include popular tunes from renaissance Spanish guitar publications and music gleaned from Spanish Colonial sources. We use composed pieces in three and four parts, monophonic (one line) melodies, tunes we've transcribed from field recordings of people singing the song on their front porch, and improvisation. We often have a theme for each character or for a particular mood, and we transform that tune according to the developments in the film. Zorro was the invention of Johnston McCulley; he one of the minor characters in McCulley's fictional swashbuckler, 'The Curse of Capistrano,' published as a serial in 1919. Douglas Fairbanks read the novella on his honeymoon and decided to change his image as a drawing room roué by impersonating the wily outlaw. His writers elevated Zorro to a main character and the rest is history. McCulley set Curse in 1846, perhaps not realizing that the Spanish had been kicked out of California by the 1830s. No matter, the lack of historical accuracy encourages us to choose music with the same flair and verve as the film's action. When choosing music to accompany a film, the first goal is naturally to reinforce the mood of each scene. Music can add pacing, drama, or irony, foreshadow tragedy or anticipate rescue. We hope that you'll find that listening to period music really makes the story come alive. Tina Chancey.