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Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019

  • Text
  • Theatre
  • Composer
  • Arts
  • Quartet
  • Festival
  • Symphony
  • Musical
  • Jazz
  • Toronto
  • September
Vol 1 of our 25th season is now here! And speaking of 25, that's how many films in the upcoming Toronto International Film Festival editor Paul Ennis, in our Eighth Annual TIFF TIPS, has chosen to highlight for their particular musical interest. Also inside: Rob Harris looks through the Rear View Mirror at past and present prognostications about the imminent death of classical music; Mysterious Barricades and Systemic Barriers are Lydia Perović's preoccupations in Art of Song; Andrew Timar reflects on the evolving priorities of the Polaris Prize; and elsewhere, it's chocks away as yet another season creaks or roars (depending on the beat) into motion. Welcome back.

Music in Film: 8th

Music in Film: 8th Annual TIFF TIPS continued from page 12 White Lie: The Making of a Soundtrack White Lie is a gripping new psychodrama, by Toronto-based co-directors Yonah Lewis and Calvin Thomas, that oozes unease as it follows a university student on her duplicitous route to crowd-funded dollars by pretending to be suffering from melanoma. It’s the duo’s fourth feature and second to be invited to TIFF (Amy George, their 2011 debut, was the first). Marked by nuanced, naturalistic acting (Kacey Rohl, Amber Anderson, Martin Donovan) and set off by striking cinematography, its mood is buttressed by a quietly disturbing score. The film’s large musical component (by Yonah’s brother, Lev Lewis) is strikingly judicious: it doesn’t overwhelm and the filmmakers know when to remove it entirely. I was curious about the working relationship among Thomas and the Lewis brothers vis-a-vis the music in the film, so in a recent email I asked Yonah to describe their process. [Full disclosure: while not members of my immediate family, Yonah and Lev are related to me.] “We (Yonah and Calvin Thomas) always attempt the assembly and first cut without a temp track, but temptation quickly arises and pretty soon we begin to pull tracks that help us envision how we want the final scenes to feel. Lev tends to source most of the music, but the two of us occasionally bring in pieces we think might send us in the right direction. At this point in the edit, much of this is just us trying to locate the feeling and scope of the music. Sometimes we want something orchestral, maybe even bombastic, but ultimately feel that the music has to match the size of the production. “On White Lie, we used a number of tracks from the Wojciech Kilar We Own the Night soundtrack, as well as pieces by Yusef Lateef, Steve Roach, Pere Ubu and Wadada Leo Smith, until Lev began recording his own temp score a few months into the editing process. “We were a little rushed getting a cut ready for festival submissions and Lev had a whirlwind long weekend writing and recording a temp score in the edit suite, just him, a guitar and a MIDI keyboard. That stage of the score turned out to be a more post-punk, Sonic Youth feel than what we eventually landed on, but it helped us start to set a tone for what the music eventually became. We ended up gravitating to more strings and piano than originally discussed, but still incorporating that jagged, jarring feeling of the distorted guitars and loose percussion.” I then contacted Lev Lewis about how he had approached writing the score, indicating that I was impressed with the depth of the recurrent cello line, the inherent pull between the jazzy foreground walking bass and the tension drip of the synths and background percussion, the way that the music gently adds to the web of deceit. “Initially, the score was going to dominantly rely on guitars and keyboards, and since those are instruments I can play (unlike strings or woodwinds or what have you), I ended up putting more effort into the temp music than is typical,” he replied. “I recorded in the editing suite we were cutting in, using Logic and an Apogee ONE for guitars. We used this temp music for about six weeks until picture was locked and I moved onto writing the score full time. I spent about two-three weeks composing to picture and then another three weeks or so recording. Most of the recording was done out of Victory Social Club in a small office with Lucas Prokaziuk engineering. We recorded guitars and live synths there, finding the right sounds and tweaking the cues. “We had three great string players (two violins, one cello) come in for a whirlwind day where we recorded something like 19 cues in maybe four hours, and a drummer to play the kit. I performed the piano and just banged on the percussion until we got the sounds we were looking for. Working with live synths was probably the biggest learning curve for me as it was my first time, but also quite fun, especially interesting to realize how alive they are. “Writing a score for such a psychologically damaged character immediately gives you a lot of options, some of them interesting, some of them obvious. I had recently heard a record by Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt which is made up of these interlocking guitar-drum runs. Really rough and abrasive but fully integrated. I incorporated (or stole) that idea and placed it overtop a more conventional horror movie melody played on piano and cello. This came together pretty quickly and became the main theme.” And, finally, this from Calvin Thomas: “Having the score come together really solidified the tone of the film. It made her more fascinating, more cunning, more complicated. And ultimately that’s what we were striving for: the audience should leave the theatre feeling deeply unsettled by the character they’ve been following through every scene, and conflicted by their own attachment to her.” White Lie plays the Toronto International Film Festival September 7 and 13. Consult tiff.net for more information. Paul Ennis 78 | September 2019 thewholenote.com

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Volumes 21-25 (2015-2019)

Volume 25 Issue 4 - December 2019 / January 2020
Volume 25 Issue 2 - October 2019
Volume 25 Issue 1 - September 2019
Volume 24 Issue 8 - May 2019
Volume 24 Issue 7 - April 2019
Volume 24 Issue 6 - March 2019
Volume 24 Issue 5 - February 2019
Volume 24 Issue 4 - December 2018 / January 2019
Volume 24 Issue 3 - November 2018
Volume 24 Issue 2 - October 2018
Volume 24 Issue 1 - September 2018
Volume 23 Issue 9 - June / July / August 2018
Volume 23 Issue 8 - May 2018
Volume 23 Issue 7 - April 2018
Volume 23 Issue 6 - March 2018
Volume 23 Issue 4 - December 2017 / January 2018
Volume 23 Issue 3 - November 2017
Volume 23 Issue 2 - October 2017
Volume 23 Issue 1 - September 2017
Volume 22 Issue 9 - Summer 2017
Volume 22 Issue 8 - May 2017
Volume 22 Issue 7 - April 2017
Volume 22 Issue 6 - March 2017
Volume 22 Issue 5 - February 2017
Volume 22 Issue 4 - December 2016/January 2017
Volume 22 Issue 2 - October 2016
Volume 22 Issue 1 - September 2016
Volume 21 Issue 9 - Summer 2016
Volume 21 Issue 8 - May 2016
Volume 21 Issue 6 - March 2016
Volume 21 Issue 5 - February 2016
Volume 21 Issue 4 - December 2015/January 2016
Volume 21 Issue 3 - November 2015
Volume 21 Issue 2 - October 2015
Volume 21 Issue 1 - September 2015

Volumes 16-20 (2010-2015)

Volumes 11-15 (2004-2010)

Volumes 6 - 10 (2000 - 2006)

Volumes 1-5 (1994-2000)