John Carpenter Project

14 10 2008

I’ve started focusing on our material for shows at the end of Oct. and early Nov.  I stated back a piece that we would be covering songs written by Horror Director John Carpenter, and now I am in the process of figuring out how that will happen.  I’ve always liked the man’s music because, like his films, it is simple yet effective.  His soundtrack for Halloween still ranks as one of the greats, and pretty much makes your skin crawl even without the film to go with it.  In the brainstorming process, I’ve been thinking of ways to make the music work in a longer format–so that we’re not just playing 1 minute film cues–and I’ve decided to pick my favorite cues from a number of his films, and mix them up so that they may be played in any order and still tell a story.

I started on this line of thinking a few years ago in a group called Free Breaks Trio with Scott Clark and Tom Skjei.  In that group we had originals and breakbeats and the challenge was getting from one tune to the next with no stopping, and with much improv.  It worked great most of the time, going from originals through MF Doom and Madlib beats, and I’ve always wanted to bring that idea back in a larger group.

This was before I even started listening to Anthony Braxton.  He has been working with these open music systems for years now, and when I saw that live for the first time in ’06, it totally blew me away.  He was using visual cues, and total group participation to keep everyone on their toes.  While the notion of having a system for surprises is a little counter-intuitive, it can also be a lot of fun.  Seeing this performance really made me want to create that kind of vibe with my own band and music.  It’s a slow process, and really just takes working out within the band, but I’m excited by the possibilities.

The John Carpenter stuff works so well for this approach because so much of his music is written in small 2 or 4 bar chunks that are repeated.

Also, and this is great for guitar, almost everything’s in E or A!

After some thought on how to make this work, I compiled my five favorite scores of his, and took multiple cues from each one.  I then put them together in a tentative playlist (mix-tape style.)  I have ideas for combining many cues, but for the most part, I will be arranging them in a continuous format that jumps from film to film in a way that works musically.

Here are the films I’ll be drawing from:
Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)
Halloween (1978)
The Fog (1980)
Escape from New York (1981)
Halloween 3 (1982)

In the next couple weeks, I’ll be posting about the films that the music comes from, and why I chose what I did.  The question of why I’m doing any of this in the first place is a different issue altogether.

This would not be possible without the internet, or bittorrent.

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2 responses

28 10 2008
RVAjazz

[…]The weekend will close out with Glows in the Dark’s return to Commercial Taphouse. Scott Burton says:[…]

29 10 2008
5 things… | RVANews

[…] this is not Jazz Odyssey much to David St. Hubbins’ delight.) More details on this process here. Sunday, 9:30pm, Free, Commercial […]

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