Composing a Film Score By the Seat of Your Pants

Take it from us, Frenetic Theatre has hosted some thoroughly mind-blowing events. Last time we had the pleasure of enjoying a night at the Navigation Blvd venue, we got free inhalants, kung-fu, and an education in how Sesame Street uses government-approved mind-control techniques.

This Sunday, avant-garde Houston artist (and Art Attack contributor) Chris Becker will be improvising musical scores via laptop and Kaoss pad to a selection of modern silent films by a nice smattering of artists. Art Attack has caught all kinds of silent-film live-music events, but most have been live scores set to classics of the genre such as Metropolis, Nosferatu, and The Phantom of the Opera. Instead, Becker is tackling new silent works by Noe Kidder of New York City, Ruby Quincunx of New Orleans, and others. Maya Deren's seminal work At Land will be featured, as well as Kenneth Anger's Rabbit's Moon, in an effort to put the new works into context with legendary avant-garde auteurs of the past.

Though Becker has previously scored one of the films, Noe Kidder's Paradise, using music from his album Saints and Devils, he promises that each performance will be different and almost wholly improvised.

Rabbit's Moon by Kenneth Anger (1979)

"Yes, I've seen the films - some are films I've had on tap for three or four years," says Becker. "So I prepare in advance, but once the film starts rolling, all of that preparation goes out the window and I find I'm just winging it. It's very weird. It's a combination of improvising with composed materials, if that makes any sense. I do not enjoy playing something prepared to be honest. I want the "chaos" element to be a part of whatever I do. No matter how terrifying that may be for me."

The music will be created in real time using the Abeleton Live software as well as a Kaoss pad over layered samples.

Becker moved to Houston from New York last April and works with Musiqa doing public relations and assisting executive director Gina Stevens. Musiqa has been heralded as one of Houston's most innovative classical music groups, blending contemporary music with poetry and dance.

"MUSIC FOR SILENT FILMS" Films by Kenneth Anger, Lydia Hance, Noe Kidder, Aurora Neeland, and Stephanie St. Sanchez Sunday, March 13th, 2011, 7:00 pm FrenetiCore Theater 5102 Navigation, Houston, TX Tickets $7

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Jef Rouner (not cis, he/him) is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner