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Topic: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

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  1. #1

    Exclamation "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    (click the image to go to streaming website)

    EDIT 11/15/2012: Streaming video doesn't work well or at all on some people's computers, and even for people who have no problem streaming, I understand it can be daunting to be presented with over an hour of music like I have in this "Vampyr" post.

    So here's a short 2:20 sample of the soundtrack in MP3 format:

    The death vision sequence in "Vampyr"

    The main character's astral spirit is projected in the latter portion of the film, and one of his experiences in that form is to have a vision of being buried alive. It's the most famous sequence from the film, with the character's physical body paralyzed and sealed in a coffin that has a glass window in it. We see his face frozen in terror and wonder as he stares out through the window and pallbearers carry the coffin through a village and to the cemetery.

    Original post starts here:

    ------------------------------------
    My biggest music project in 2010 was to compose a score for the semi-obscure 1932 horror film, "Vampyr." At the end of that year, I posted a short demo video here at the Forum, but until now, the full piece has only been available as a purchase.

    Now, two years later, I'm offering up the whole project to everyone here at the Forum for free. At the website linked to from the image above, you'll find the entire movie in streaming video, and hear my full soundtrack.

    Carl Theodor Dreyer, the great Danish director of the film, went out on a limb to do something unique with "Vampyr." It did badly during its initial runs, and virtually destroyed both Dreyer's career and confidence. Like many works of art that aren't appreciated initially, it has many admirers now, despite its remaining a "difficult" movie that a lot of people still have difficulty enjoying.

    I think it's brilliant, and perhaps even superior to the famous "Nosferatu." A lot of good background can be found here:

    "Vampyr" at Wiki

    "Vampyr" was done early in the sound era, but was produced more like a silent movie, with very limited use of sound. I approached it as if it's a silent film as I composed the music.

    I kept instrumentation sparse, using a handful of Garritan instruments layered with synths and sound effects. I stripped off the horrible sound track on my VHS copy of the film, added in sound effects, and did something I feel is effective with the dialogue, based on Dreyer's original idea to have voices sound as if they're coming from a dream.

    This isn't big, grand soundtrack work like in modern Hollywood products, and it's a bit more melodically oriented rather than minimalistically textural.

    I hope you take a listen to at least some of it, but what I'm really hoping is that some brave souls watch the entire film. If you do watch it all, you'll at least see that it's a unique movie. I feel that if someone really gives it their full attention, they can find "Vampyr" as eerie and haunting a movie as any they've ever seen. Just don't expect any blood, guts, or horrific images. The entire thing is ethereal, elusive. It's a spooky nightmare, not a shocking one.

    It was a wonderful project for me, and I hunkered down to work on it full-time until I'd finished it. I think I had the whole thing finished within a two month period, incredibly fast for me.

    J. Hoberman of the Village Voice wrote that "...Vampyr is Dreyer's most radical film — maybe one of my dozen favorite movies any director..."

    Anton Bitel of Channel 4 said the film is "...a triumph of the irrational, Dreyer's eerie memento mori never allows either protagonist or viewer fully to wake up from its surreal nightmare."

    Randy

  2. #2

    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Thank you, Randy, I will certainly take the time to have a good listen (and view)!

    Max

  3. #3

    Thumbs up Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Hi, Randy,

    Today I took the time to watch out the entire movie. Although I'm not so fond of that genre, it is like you said a unique version of the theme. Not bloody and horrifying, but suggesting and creating atmosphere with very modest means. I can't say I enjoyed the film, but the artistic concept thrilled me though.
    As to the score, you did a hell of a job (in merely 2 months!). Such an amount of music in such a brief time, incredible! You have definitely the gift of reading through (cinematic) reality (fiction). Your score displays not only rich musical baggage, but also a very thorough technical skill and good taste. It reminds me somehow (due to the film probably) of the very neatly scored music in Alexander Nevsky (which is sometimes too parallel): artistic music of a very high level. Your music sounds pretty narrative and is well timed to the pictures. You didn't hit the stone of doubling the entire action in music (which often happened in the beginning era of film music), but created in a suggestive way (with subtle instrumentation and well chosen accents) the effects demanded the images or the story.

    I'm really glad I saw it through. It showed me again what a 'master' you are.

    Thank you Randy.

    Max

  4. #4

    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    Hi, Randy,

    Today I took the time to watch out the entire movie. Although I'm not so fond of that genre, it is like you said a unique version of the theme. Not bloody and horrifying, but suggesting and creating atmosphere with very modest means. I can't say I enjoyed the film, but the artistic concept thrilled me though.

    As to the score, you did a hell of a job (in merely 2 months!). Such an amount of music in such a brief time, incredible! You have definitely the gift of reading through (cinematic) reality (fiction). Your score displays not only rich musical baggage, but also a very thorough technical skill and good taste. It reminds me somehow (due to the film probably) of the very neatly scored music in Alexander Nevsky (which is sometimes too parallel): artistic music of a very high level. Your music sounds pretty narrative and is well timed to the pictures. You didn't hit the stone of doubling the entire action in music (which often happened in the beginning era of film music), but created in a suggestive way (with subtle instrumentation and well chosen accents) the effects demanded the images or the story.

    I'm really glad I saw it through. It showed me again what a 'master' you are.

    Thank you Randy.

    Max
    Bravo for you, Max!-- This is almost too much to grasp. You watched the whole film even though you don't care for the genre, and so couldn't really enjoy the film--but you were interested in hearing my music. That is really very impressive, and your response alone makes me very glad I decided to post the link.

    Your praise is much more than I expected from anyone, even from my wife who's my biggest fan!

    Well, you made my day, Thanks very much, Max.

    Randy

  5. #5

    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Bravo for you, Max!-- This is almost too much to grasp. You watched the whole film even though you don't care for the genre, and so couldn't really enjoy the film--but you were interested in hearing my music. That is really very impressive, and your response alone makes me very glad I decided to post the link.

    Your praise is much more than I expected from anyone, even from my wife who's my biggest fan!

    Well, you made my day, Thanks very much, Max.

    Randy
    You're welcome, Randy.

    Max

  6. #6
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Hi Randy,

    WOW! I started with segment 1 yesterday, and just finished screening segment 2 (I plan to watch one-a-day). This is really an interesting and tre-cool project you produced. The film itself is amazing (some of the camera shots were pretty modern!); I've never seen the entire work so I'm looking forward to that. What you did with the music is nothing short of incredible; I really can't believe how well it punctuates the film ... BRAVO!

    I know we both share a love of Bernard Herrmann and I hate to keep dredging old 'Benny" up, but it was said that what really separated his scores from the other greats during his day, was that he was a superb dramatist. I really think this applies to your work here Randy. The fact that you have spent your life immersed in theater and film has served you well to get inside Dreyer's film and write music that is such an organic extension of it. I mean, the first two segments at least, are seamless.

    I would think a difficult aspect of this style of scoring (wall-to-wall) is in not exhausting the viewer/listener with the music (or film itself). But you seem to really strike a blend contrasting our old friends intensity and density; I was brought to the edge of my seat, but then able to sit back and breath easy again ... over and over! Not easy to do, that whole tension and release thing.

    I thought the flutter-flute during the turning lock/creaky door (Seg-1; 4:45) was good, but my favorite so far was the shadow waltz music opening up Seg-2 ... plus, it matched the imagery with the shadow violinist in the band!

    I'm really enjoying this and will probably try and screen the entire film in one session after the holidays.

    Thanks for making this available; really good work Randy!

    Frank

  7. #7

    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    What a cool project Randy. I am pretty sure that I will not watch the whole thing, but what I have seen and heard so far is just great. I am a sci fi/ horror buff and liked this a lot. I think taking a minimalist approach to the instrumentation and sounds works good for this.
    Thanks for the post. Jay

  8. #8

    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Frank's post -
    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    ...The film itself is amazing (some of the camera shots were pretty modern!); I've never seen the entire work so I'm looking forward to that. What you did with the music is nothing short of incredible; I really can't believe how well it punctuates the film ... BRAVO!

    I know we both share a love of Bernard Herrmann and...what really separated his scores from the other greats during his day, was that he was a superb dramatist. I really think this applies to your work here Randy...

    ...my favorite so far was the shadow waltz music opening up Seg-2...
    My turn to saw "Wow!"-Frank - Your response to this has certainly more than made my day. This music has to be the least heard work of mine ever. Wanting to have at least a few more folks in the auditorium for this is what motivated me to finally put it up here at the Forum, a full two years after writing it. So, to know that some people are listening and even enjoying, is of course very gratifying.

    Bernard Herrmann though, oh my, what a comparison!-- He was a master of musical abstraction which I'm totally in awe of, but I appreciate the comparison of my sense of drama to his. I'm always wanting to find the drama in everything I write, and I do know I enjoy the challenge of paralleling the drama in film with music. That's a very absorbing activity that I should do more often. With this, I let myself follow the lead of those guys who compose soundtracks for re-released silent films. They keep their music more active and with more developed themes than in most modern soundtracks that focus more on simpler, more purely textural "music-as-sound."

    And I'm glad you're enjoying the film itself. You're right, there really are a lot of aspects of the cinematography which seem much more modern than the era when it was made. Dreyer was a genius. He just went too far out of the box for this film to ever have been more universally appreciated.

    Good approach, watching those 10 minute segments one at a time, as your schedule permits. Dividing the 1 hour film into 6 segments was the most practical way to handle the Flash files, but I was also hoping that would make it more inviting for people who don't want to commit to watching a whole, albeit rather short, movie.

    I will reiterate, though, that while I can't guarantee the same reaction in anyone, I know that at least some folks could have one of the most interesting film watching experiences of their lives taking in Dreyer's odd dream world.
    ----------
    I've now edited my original post to include an MP3 of a 2 minute segment, for those who'd prefer to have just a taste of this, or who can't play the streaming file. Here's that MP3 and description of the scene it's from in the final segment of the movie:

    The death vision sequence in "Vampyr"

    The main character's astral spirit is projected in the latter portion of the film, and one of his experiences in that form is to have a vision of being buried alive. It's the most famous sequence from the film, with the character's physical body paralyzed and sealed in a coffin that has a glass window in it. We see his face frozen in terror and wonder as he stares out through the window and pallbearers carry the coffin through a village and to the cemetery. About half way in is the sound of a church bell, ringing out in its own time, asynchronous to the music. We see the bell tower from the victim's point of view during the trip to the cemetery.

    Thanks again, Frank - Very much.

    Randy

  9. #9

    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Thanks so much for sharing this work. I've only had time tonight to listen to the death vision sequence and a few minutes of the film. I thought the cues for Death ringing the bell at the pier were a crack-up. (I assume Death, the scythe tends to be a bit of a give away)

    In terms of expression, I was reminded of a score Joe Hisaishi did for Buster Keaton's "The General." I look forward to watching/listening to the complete work when I get a chance.

  10. #10

    Re: "Vampyr" - my full soundtrack with streaming video

    Quote Originally Posted by jaynkate01 View Post
    What a cool project Randy. I am pretty sure that I will not watch the whole thing, but what I have seen and heard so far is just great. I am a sci fi/ horror buff and liked this a lot. I think taking a minimalist approach to the instrumentation and sounds works good for this.
    Thanks for the post. Jay
    Howdy, Jay - Glad you checked this out, and you even found it "great"--Thanks, buddy!

    You do have me curious though - you're a sci fi/horror buff, you liked it a lot - but you're also pretty sure you won't watch the whole thing--?

    Randy

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