Music for Motion Pictures Author(s): BERT LAVASTIDA, PETE STALLINGS, NORMAN PHELPS, GLEN GOULD Source: Journal

of the University Film Producers Association, Vol. 7, No. 2 (WINTER, 1954), pp. 12-16 Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the University Film & Video Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20686381 . Accessed: 06/10/2011 16:26
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A transcription of a panel discussion by Bert havastida, Director of Film Produc Pete Stallings, Service Manager, The Calvin Com tion, University of Michigan; Norman Phelps, Ohio State University Department and Glen of Music; pany; Detroit free-lance composer. Presented at the Eighth Annual Conference. Gould,

Music
BY

forMotion
BERT

Pictures
PETE GOULD STALLINGS, NORMAN

PHELPS,

LAVASTIDA, AND GLEN

Mr. Lavastida: Ever since the beginning of mo tion pictures, music has been an important part, be cause even before they were talking and recording that themicrophone could pick up, they everything had the piano or piano roll to accompany the film.
Today more when we have

original musical score. I've often wondered why important. In the universities we probably have most of our more universities don't do that, but not having been films divided roughly into two categories: one, strict faced with the problem for three years, I can't go into that question any longer. the instructional film in the sense of the Instruc ly I would like to say one tional Film Research Program. Ray Carpenter has thing about the live score in advance. The live-score shown us many of these earlier, such as the tying of recording technique is case a knot. In this particular you're not interested very important to the editing technique, that is, the in anything but how that knot is tied, and that is cutting of themusic together in the final show. Many the instructional film in its strictest sense, and here people who have brought in live scores to our com is of least importance. The other pany formixing with other sound have tried to re perhaps music types are the informative or the information film, cord the whole show all the way through without a the filmwith a message. Here we're interested in stop. It's pretty tough on the conductor and also not only how the knot is tied; we also want you to tough on the musicians, I think you'll find that if notice the quality of the rope with which we tie it, you take a phrase of the picture, a sequence inwhich that the rope is from a certain place. We want you you're going to have one musical setting, and record that sequence and then pick up the next phrase and to perhaps even notice theway the hands move, the record that sequence, and then go back and lay it type of hands, things like that. In other words we on the editing table against the picture and cut it want to impress you. The public relations film comes is very music Here under this category. important, together, you'll be able to adjust your picture if the music is running just a shade long or pull the pic because it helps not only to make it pleasanter and ture together if the music is just a little bit short. to give you themood and atmosphere but also adds to this type of film. The live musical score as far as industrial film polish In the filmswith music we have roughly two cate production is concerned is being used less and less. we use in the universities. First, We have now three fine libraries available in record gories that mostly is not really form.We at Calvin Company use the Chapel Li background music. Here the music matched to the picture. It merely is there to sort of brary, theHarmonics Library, and the old and faith add pleasantness to the film, to polish it up a little ful Boosey and Hawkes with which most of us are familiar. and put you inmore of a mood to stand for a longer of time or sit there and absorb the film. Sec Getting back to what we're going to do with period music, I'd like to show you some film examples and ond, the original score of the matched music, and then answer questions afterward if time permits. here music is very important. In fact some people The primary use of the underscore is in aiding the think it is as important as the picture, because it not can set 'the mood of the scenes to come, it not pacing of the picture. (Here an example was only can accompany it, but it can even pace the shown.) In screen example No. 1 themusic aids the only can more or less sense the pacing of the picture. timing of the film. You In the second example music is used to create a various parts by theway themusic is played. mood. This is an excerpt from a Community Chest We're very fortunate today to have a very distin are going to talk to filmwhich we made for one of our many producer guished panel of experts who us about the various phases of music for motion clients, and I think I'll just let themusic tell its own story. (Here the second example was shown.) pictures. First of all we have Pete Stallings, who is to talk to us on sources of music and editing There was a music changeover under the opening going voice of that particular sequence. I wonder how techniques. some screen I have with me Mr. Stallings: many of you heard it. It's really quite easy to achieve today

ration and all these sound tracks,music

dialogue,

conversation,

nar

is certainly

examples of Calvin Company Workshop filmswhich an idea as to the might give you techniques used in music to motion pictures. As to source I applying have very little to say; we have two places where we can get music. One is from records which can be li censed for filmproduction of our type, and the other
source is, of course, to write and produce our own

[12]

action. This is an original harp score for a picture produced at the Calvin Company. (Third example.) I'd like to show you an example now of edited music inwhich a music track has been cut to fit a still in the underwater state, in which there is a three-way cut. This is from a state of Ohio show on nature released for public relations purposes in this state. The title isNature's Children. I'd like to show you now another example ofmusic a editing. This is from picture made for Caterpillar Tractor Company on safety in the use of heavy con struction equipment. (Fifth example.) The picture was made for a rough-and-tumble bunch of guys see just signed to make them wake up a bit and what that big behemoth will do without brakes or if a they leave the blade up in the air. The picture, pretty continuous sequence, is based on the old idea of Russian roulette, and it's pretty effective to give the idea thatwhatever you're betting on, don't try to bet on what one of those machines will do or won't do, because it's just about like betting that you'll get one of the five empty cylinders against the The next screen example is an opening title sec tion from the motion picture called The Sound of Bells, in which the mood is set, and in which we also have some title changes. The titles flow to the music. (Sixth example.) That was of course a series of arrangements taken frompopular Christmas songs. an Though the music was original score, the title were to the music after itwas re changes plotted corded, so there is still another way in which you can arrange your picture and music to fall together in some sort of logical sequence. Those titles could have possibly been placed just half a foot farther back or half a foot ahead, and you would have destroyed thewhole effect. So if you watch certain of your photography se quences, particularly those which are going to be used with music alone and don't have to have a
certain amount of loaded one. who build our streets, roads, and dams, so it's de photosequence. This is a sequence on a dragon fly

which

that type of changeover as long as you do it be hind voice. If you try it out in the open you usually get into trouble. Let's look at sequence No. 3 in
we've used some original music to punctuate

music rather than scored music. (Eighth example.) The last example I have is a scoring of a pro logue. It's the use of both sound effects and music to introduce you to the title of the motion picture. Again this is from the same Community Chest pic ture we saw a little earlier, recorded for Olympus Film Productions in Cincinnati. (Ninth example.) Q. What about the percentage of canned music to edited music in these selections?Were most from librarymusic, that type of recording? A. That's right. I think perhaps of the 250 shows that I handle each year, probably 98 or 99 per cent of them don't use music at all, and one-half per cent use opening and closing music and perhaps the other half per cent have a live score when they bring the
show in.

Q. What comments do you have on the use of sound effects plus music? It's always been my feel ing that the two clash with each other. But here I didn't get that effect. Generally it seemed that one will conflict with the other and that the policy is to
use one

A. I think it's mostly a question of balance and of music placement. I don't think you want to get the beat of themusic inwith the tick of the heavy right clock. You're going to have to have a little spacing between them in order to hear both. But theymust still keep pretty well in rhythm. It's something you have to do prettymuch on the editing table.Watch the modulations on your sound effects track and watch themodulations on your music track in order to tell what the best position is going to be. Then I'd say you'd probably have to carry your sound effects just a trifle louder than your music in order
to maintain

or the other.

Q. I don't know if you're aware of the film I'm talking about, one that we made in Minnesota in which the sound effects and the music seemed to me to conflictwith each other. It may have been in the balance, but I'd a lot rather have dropped the music in favor of just sound effects. A. Itmight have been better in that case, because we were trying to build a different sort of idea in that particular sequence. We have found, I think,
that costs are too

balance.

and re-adjust your photography to themusical score and get the effect of edited music. It's easier, I assure you, to cut the photo than to some try to cut of thosemodulations apart and glue them to another piece of music tomake them sound as if theywere Next is some music from a Mississippi River Com mission tide, the motion picture Shackles of the Giants, which is a combination of sound effects and music. (Seventh example.) That job probably re quired four tracks, voice, sound effects, and the music A and B, so there were straight cuts in that music. I think itwas principally a blended orchestral hind the voice. The next example shows titles edited to match a music track. In this case it's edited tomatch canned
background. There were some music changes be scored that way.

verbiage

in

them,

you

can

cut

tions that come to us made internally by some in dustry such as Ford Tractor or made internally by universities, the original music budget made on the outside would cost considerably more than their entire picture production costs put together, and for that reason I think we're going pretty heavily to canned music. I also think that availability of more and better canned music has caused the swing in that direction. But sheer cost I'd say is the first and last reason for not doing it. In the university you can perhaps lick that problem with your own uni Mr. Lav astida: Professor Norman Phelps will now present the picture from the point of view of the picture composed and played by the university. Mr. Phelps: This last discussion which was un a thing in which I am very much inter derway is ested as a composer. This particular presentation
university writer-composer and having the entire versity musical group.

great.

In

many

cases,

for

produc

[13]

thismorning will be based upon a film which has been done here at Ohio State and for which the music was written on the campus and the per
formance done

of the problems of photography or filming.My real competency is of course in the field ofmusic, and I could speak about tempo, pace, modulation, and instrumentation, and that sort of thing, but I don't believe thatwould be of great value to you forme to go into great detail. But to bring the problem out into the open at least, I've organized this tomake a kind of what, why, and how situation, for that's exactly theway inwhich the problem was presented
to me.

all

competent

by in

the

any

orchestra. university manner whatsoever

I'm

not

at

to

speak

The what is, of course, the filmwhich was to be done by the Department of Photography here and is in the nature of an information film. It has to do with the university, and the fundamental text is based on the question, "What is a university?" The script is very nicely done, very clear, and very
cleverly third, worked out. It centers around three items:

two players, two second violins who didn't get to was unfortunate. play. This They might have had the opportunity and the experience as well. The third problem has never been settled. I don't know even today exactly what happened. Part of it was done with forethought and with hope, and most of itwas just hope, I think.That is that there is an extensive narration that goes with the film, and I could not predict or know exactly when the voice would come in and when themusic would go down. Consequently themusic had to be written so that if it should be faded out, itwouldn't make too much difference, there wouldn't be any absolute loss, or if it should come up to be a primary item for ten or twelve seconds, it would sound as though it were important and belonged there. I had to tread this very fine line between writing completely innocuous music and music which had some definite interest of its own. This was the most difficult part of the
whole

first, the university's buildings;
ideas.

second, people;

and

was too slow. the pace It was set It didn't wrong. Actually since the storyhas to do with Ohio State the pace for the film as it should be. The original University, and it's an informational film which I overture music went probably a quarter slower than believe was primarily to be shown in the high that and moved in a very even, natural tempo. I schools, we determined to build the score around music which was connected with Ohio State Uni presumed that this brisk, walking tempo was more so that the central motif or thematic ma appropriate to the subject under discussion. versity, The second strip comes much later in the film. terial is the alma mater song, The Carmine Ohio, and you'll hear it when we play one of the clips We've already discussed and presented buildings and ideas. I had a great deal of fun with the build which we've cut from the film. This was, of course, the first decision as towhat ingmusic. I got to a point where I could distinguish between the old buildings and the new ones from themusic should be built around, what sort of data the music itself. The next item describes student and thematic material should be used, and was set tled quite easily in thatway. I was surprised that it counselling and other activities and systems which are available to the student on the campus besides worked so well with such a great variety with much his studywork and his social life. This is considered to do. to be a rather serious part of the student's view. In The second problem that bothered me was that it the counselling he receives and the guidance he gets was to be performed by the university orchestra, and outside of the classroom he's probably making de are neces There this is, after all, an amateur group. cisions which will affect his future life as much as limitations, so that the craftwhich I employed sarily or more than those he makes in the classroom. For had to be very carefully geared to the best per that reason this is the alma mater tune in a fugai formance that could be done with this amateur or chestra. setting which has a rather serious and highly aca in music. demic I settled upon a small orchestra, inmy own mind concept Since a good part of the student's life is devoted to use about four first violins, four sec intending to. social activities, and since the student deems these a two basses, and three cellos, three violas, onds, to be extremely important? and there's no doubt but small group of two flutes, one oboe, one bassoon, what they are ? this next segment displays a tradi a contra-bass one bass which and clarinet, clarinet, tional activity at Ohio State which we call May gives considerable variety in the wind section. I Week. It probably goes back to theDark Ages when which wanted a saxophone group of five instruments there used to be early spring festivals, but in this would be what I would call a group to give body to the score, but we didn't have five good saxophones particular segment, the other inwhich music stands all by itself, the students display theirmore natural or even four, so I settled on four trombones and two abilities and talents. French horns. The four trombones were a very good This leads directly into the final segment which chordal, gluing sort of sound within the orchestral is centered at around the commencement activities and the horns of course added their own fabric, the university. At this place the alma mater tune is individual color. came to the performance, the given a full-blown orchestral setting with chorus of Actually when it conductor of the orchestra felt he couldn't rely on which you'll hear the first and the last notes. as I said, I could not know when the four firstviolins so thatwhen the string section was Actually, chosen h? got down to everybody except, I think, narration would come in and when it would come

In the film there are actually only two exerpts where themusic stands by itself.The first one is in the titlemusic. This is the second titlemusic which we composed. The first was perfectly adequate but

process.

[14]

I had predetermined that it would be all and I was sur through before the chorus began, to find that the chorus is just faintly audible prised in the background. I agree that this is the rightway to do it, as it seems tome that this is the place for the narration. It cannot be earlier, but the time and effortwe spent getting the boys together and get to the microphone ting them in the right position and getting the orchestra balanced against them had just all gone down the drain. Mr. Lavastida: There are three things that we should perhaps recap out of themany that Professor us about thismorning. Phelps has told One is that it's extremely difficult when you just or even just a work give the composer the script to know when to bring these things up and print down. It certainly helps if you can put on all the track and then he can score it right down and then it doesn't go down the drain in the long analysis. It run. The un really saves a lot of time in the long fortunate thing about these original scores is, how ever, that you can't do it for that reason until the film is completely finished, and if you have a dead line, sometimes even if you have planned an original score, the time limit forces you to use some other means of getting your music. One very interesting thing that I thinkmost of us who've had to deal with original scores have found is that the people in the music department are in terested in doing it, and usually they will work harder than anybody else to provide you with the that right type of music. We certainly appreciated and this is themusic situation within the verymuch, university itself. We've had the commercial organization who can even their help you with theirmusic libraries and sources of original music. We've had the university story, everything being done within the university itself, and now we're going to hear fromMr. Glenn out. Men such as Mr. Gould are sometimes available when the music department can't do it to provide you with original music. I don't know justwhat I can add on Mr. Gould: morn top of everything that has been said here this I want to say that I admired very much Pro ing. fessor Phelps' music. It was very good, and I wish that at Wayne University we always had the sym it is usually booked two phony to work with, but in advance. In my talk thismorning I think I years can do you the best service by talking about small can call the dean of the Presuming thatmaybe you school of music and maybe they can recommend to you a student or a professor who would like to do this, I'd recommend that you get hold of someone interested in dramatic music or someone who had written a little opera or the like. You see there is a bit of difference between what we call dramatic or kind which is pure descriptive music and the other in the way they are entirely different individuals think. If you get a dyed-in-the-wool composer, he
ly for concert purposes, and sometimes composers combinations. a Gould, composer, musician free-lance an is a of music who arranger the university. outside and works

may be interested only in having his music come out regardless of the rilm. I think the way to get
around that situation ested in dramatic

for plays. It you do find such an individual who is willing towork for a nominal fee, you as a producer can get a little confer together with this individual, have ence, and go over the script. I think it's quite im an idea of what you have portant that you give him inmind. Give him all the ideas you can on the sub a situation ject. Otherwise you may come up against where you don't hear any of themusic until it comes time for your recording session when suddenly it's too late to do anything about changes because the musicians are hired and ready to record. He takes a look at the script, and if you're in the workprint stage, he'll look at that workprint. We a little bit so that itwill is hope that the film along him something to look at, and maybe he can give write tentatively or schematically by the script and prettywell work by the stopwatch on the scenes that you have. Of course, the ideal situation is to have the picture already completed, but it has been our experience at Wayne University that this is not al ways theway the thing can be worked out. Give him a timing sheet that has scenes timed and has some special locations that you would like him to catch. He will look at this if he has composed music for it and will then check with you to see whether it comes out right. Then he comes to the time allotted for compo sition. It's been fairly well established by people who have been working inmovie music for a while that it is difficult to do more than threeminutes of a composition day formovies. If you're just starting a or haven't written anything for while, itmight be a minute and a half, but you can add that up, and ifhe's working on a five-dayweek, you can see that for your 20-minute film it's going to take him seven
days.

music,

is to get or

someone

say,

inter really music incidental

Be on the safe side if you can possibly spare him the time for that. He's going to have to have time to copy parts, unless he farms this out, another $50.00. Add that up, too, in the fee ifyou're thinking of these things. But chances are he'll copy the parts himself, since he wants to make sure that every means additional time. thing is just so, and that About this time it's ready to be recorded. You set the recording date and hope that everything comes out all right.We presume that you have a room to do this in, one that's acoustically good treated and not too dead or too live. I also would to allow time for overtime in case it beg of you doesn't come out the way you think itwill. Be pre musicians stay a little later.We pared to have the ran into one situation of this type. The musicians had to go to another recording session, and we were so thatmeant additional expense and barely started, inconvenience in getting them back. We have found in our work that it takes about an hour to record five minutes of synchronized music, and itmight even take longer. So keep this inmind in your planning of the recording sessions. This is

If he hasn't

done

this before,

give

him

a month.

[15]

even rough synchronization, not hitting probably on the nose. It might take all afternoon everything
to work on one

the Hammond
Hammond

organ. There's
or to any

an
other

advantage
electronic

to this
organ.

line of synchronization at that rate.
Musicians are required to have

scene,

but

you

can

get

a

rough

out

a ten-minute

break

every hour. I'm getting into the union standpoint now, and if you are working with university stu dents in an orchestra, this is what you have to con tend with. I thought you might want to know about this if you're contemplating such a move. Sidemen,
as we

You can tap right into the line. You don't have to worry about acoustics in this particular situation. I don't know just how this is done. a a I showed you yesterday film of small combina tionwhich has a unique quality about it.We used tympani, marimba, harp, oboe, and French horn.
The reason we

organ

the rate of $16.07 an hour now. We've had some contract revisions lately. The director gets twice that. Of course it's a rather good deal, if you're a small a working out package proposition, to have composer do the directing, too, and in that way, a rather small fee, hell especially if you pay him at least get something extra.
There is no real overtime. There are two

say,

that

is, each

individual

musician,

runs

at

a rather odd combination, is that we wanted to get the percussive quality of a heartbeat. Of course the heartbeat is not present all the way through the film, so we had to figure out how to manipulate it inmore legitimateways, too. The other thing I wanted to show you is themain titlemusic forMagic Day which I believe you have
seen. I want to use this as an illustration of some

used

all

these

percussion

instruments,

we

We have never paid overtime. We just keep on accumulating the hours thatway. For example, you men and a leader. It would be might have eight like $160.00 an hour. something There's something else, and we have an example here of an alternative you might use. You can use just one man, one instrument to do this job, and that goes at the rate of $32.14 per hour on say something Hammond organ. It could even be a harp but pre ferably some sort of keyboard instrumentwhich can give you enough variation in what you're trying to do. Of coure we've all heard filmswith even things like tympani on them or nothing but percussion in struments, but generally speaking we try to get a rather full sound musically. In this way you can cut a few corners and keep just one man on the job for as long as it takes to get the film done, and this depends on circumstances, but you might find that thiswill work out. I'd like to show you an example of this particular We used a Hammond organ. This is a work thing. print you're seeing, still in the unfinished stage, and it's a magnetic track on the side of it on which we tried to synch it up just for this occasion. (Example
shown.) like a piano, an organ, an electronic organ, or say a

say. One is commercial recording and the one or educational you're interested in is documentary film.That is a smaller figure,with no minimum, ex cept that the musicians have to work at least an hour. Then you can break it into 15-minute sections at $4.02 per man.

scales,

as

things that can be done only with the scoring of original music working from themain title into the first scenes, and so on. I should qualify that and say thatwith the great deal of work such as they do at Calvin, it can be done with canned music, but it to score it if you have that kind of situation. (Ex ample shown.) Concerning the re-use of original music, libraries have their arrangements on this. But if you have scored some original music, it becomes your proper ty.That is, in a way it does and in a way it doesn't. According to the latest information you are not al lowed to use thatmusic again unless you get special permission from the Chicago office. This next example was made by another small group although it sounds rather full. We used a string quartet, that is, two violins, a viola, and a cello, and a piano, a flute, and a clarinet. (Example
shown. takes a little time, and in some ways it's almost easier

We have tried just recently having the producer or the director send the composer a tape of the show with little ringing bells in it each time the scene changes and giving the commentary. This gives a general idea of the timing of the dialogue, a problem which we all seem to have.
Mr. Lavastida: You have

)

of constructive information, and I hope that the prices that he mentioned will not discourage us from Michigan and have requested permission topay them the rates that we can pay, and Mr. Perrillo has al ways given us permission to do this. If you explain properly that the film is for a university, an educa tional project, you will be given generous consider
ation. using original music. We've used union musicians at

brought

us

a

great

deal

The hurdy-gurdy effect you heard we can get with

[16]

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