Notes on the score for Page of Madness.
Page of Madness is a little different from my other silent film scores
in that it contains a large measure of improvisation. The others are
mostly through-composed, with
elements of improvisation built into parts of the composition in mostly
limited and structured ways.
The improvisation here
is combined with passages of written music
and sections which mix the two in different ways, but with the main
emphasis being on different routines for improvisation, but scored
directly to the film.
The musicians use
synchronized stop watches in order to stay in sync with each other and
the film, while also
to the film, according to a manner suggested by the score. So for 80
the musicians must a) watch the film, b) watch the score, c) watch the
stopwatches, and d) watch the conductor (me), or rather a constantly
rapidly alternating sequence of the four.
For example, the two pages of the soprano part shown below, in total,
comprise the score
for Track 1 on the Page of Madness CD.
In some sections, for example, two instruments are playing written
material while two others are improvising,
with each other and against the written score. In others, one solist is
improvising in a developing way, following the story line (such as it
and others come in and out responding the specific visual or narrative
Certain motifs return in different forms in different sections, and are
the entire score. The "Mad Dancer Theme" is a one bar phrase, played by
the piano, which recurs regularly throughout the film, basically
intact. But the "Idealized Dancer Theme" (see page 2, above) recurs
three times, beginning,
middle and end. The initial melody is
presented over and ostinato of fifths in the piano, it then returns,
but with moving harmony in the accompaniment. The third time it
returns, the melody has been developed, in response to the moving
(To be continued)