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Vegan_Harvest t1_j2m243m wrote

Well they weren't wrong, I've never been to a movie with a live band.


bayesian13 t1_j2m7u76 wrote

so this is a thing now!

lots of orchestras are doing movie events. the audience watches the movie but instead of the regular movie soundtrack, the orchestra plays the soundtrack live! it's pretty neat.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2mcc51 wrote

As someone who plays in an orchestra professionally, these concerts are getting very popular and most orchestras are doing several per year now.

The thing people don’t realize is that these scores were meant to be recorded over the course of a week or so, and done in small chunks at a time.

If you’re recording a Star Wars movie you don’t just play the soundtrack front to back with the movie. You record a few minutes, they take second to listen, you might go back and hit a few bars again, then move on to a new section. Then they piece everything together at the end with editing. Recording the score to a 2 hour movie takes dozens of hours of recording time spread over several days.

To actually sit and play the score to a Star Wars movie from beginning to end with no breaks is incredibly difficult. The music was not designed to be played all at once like that.

So the next time you attend one of these concerts you can maybe have a different perspective on what the musicians are doing up there.


bayesian13 t1_j2me6kv wrote

thank you. I had wondered about that... how many different movies have you done? are they all as challenging as star wars or are some of them easier? i attended one which was the Princess Bride. That was really fun.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2mfciv wrote

I can’t remember every movie I’ve done, but I’ve done Star Wars IV, V, VI, Harry Potter 2, 3, 4, Home Alone, Amadeus, and some other random things like nature documentaries, etc. I might be forgetting a couple, but I’d say I’ve done 10-12 movies since they started getting popular as orchestra concerts.

As you can see, it skews heavily towards things like John Williams, probably because those are the most “involved” orchestra scores which will give the audience something to appreciate over just seeing a movie in a standard format.

You need the movie to have a largely orchestral score able to be reproduced by a standard orchestra. If a score relies a lot on electronic music, or rock music then it’s pointless to have the whole orchestra there if they barely play. So that already limits which movies will get done.

The Star Wars movies were definitely the hardest, both in terms of actually difficult notes, and also the endurance to make it through from start to finish.

Some are easier. Amadeus was easy because it’s all Mozart, which isn’t super heavy. The documentaries were mostly pretty easy, but not as fun or rewarding for the musicians because it’s more “background music” as opposed to something like John Williams where often the music feels like it’s an integral part of the story, or even a character in its own right.

If it’s by John Williams it’s probably pretty difficult.


Mr_Gaslight t1_j2osctf wrote

I finally got the chance to hear The Empire Strikes Back played live. I was there to watch the orchestra and not the film.

I was the only one applauding at the Battle in the Snow and Asteroid Field and other bits.

What a glorious score.

Unbelievably, near the end, people got up to leave before the end credits began playing.

Now, if only someone does Goldsmith’s Star Trek the Motion Picture.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2ot15d wrote

I stay and watch the credits for any movie with a great score, even when I’m seeing it at the movie theater. It’s free. Why get up and leave if the music is good??? Glad you enjoyed Empire! That was one of my favorites to play, but also one of the most difficult.


yvrelna t1_j2mwpzf wrote

If the movie heavily relies on rock music, then they can just have a rock band play the live music instead of an orchestra. Or maybe it could be some members of the orchestra may also be rock players, if both types of music are in the movie.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2n0iy9 wrote

> If the movie heavily relies on rock music, then they can just have a rock band play the live music instead of an orchestra.

Yes, they could do that, but then an orchestra wouldn’t put it on their own concert schedule and it wouldn’t be an orchestra event, which is fine. It would just change the type of event it is.

> Or maybe it could be some members of the orchestra may also be rock players, if both types of music are in the movie.

This is pretty rare in the orchestra world. Most members of professional orchestras have specialized degrees in orchestral performance, and have spent tens of thousands of hours practicing their instrument. The sheer amount of time required mostly precludes people from playing more than one instrument at a professional level (unless they’re very similar, like flute and piccolo, or clarinet and bass clarinet). There may be someone in the orchestra who plays guitar for fun, but the chances of that person actually being good enough at guitar to perform a movie score for paying audience members is vanishingly small. Everyone you see on stage at an orchestra concert has dedicated their life and career to mastering one instrument and learning as much as they possibly can about it.


Worried_Astronaut_41 t1_j2qtok9 wrote

Sometimes there's 2 soundtracks the score with just orchestra and the soundtrack with say rock pop or main songs 🎵.


Squrton_Cummings t1_j2ooqso wrote

I've been to Bugs Bunny at the Symphony, the frenetic pacing of Looney Tunes cartoons makes it a level beyond even doing a live movie score. It was absolutely amazing and a big part of that was just knowing it was basically the orchestra version of the decathlon.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2oqufx wrote

Yes! I’d love to do the Bugs Bunny concerts. Haven’t had the chance yet. But I grew up on those old cartoons and would love to play all that. Glad you were aware what a challenge it was for the orchestra!


Squrton_Cummings t1_j2oy1c3 wrote

The conductor/show presenter does a really good job of educating the audience. Each break between cartoons is a little presentation on some aspect of the history of Warner Bros., the unique instruments they use or some other technical aspect of the show like the click track.


JacobDCRoss t1_j2pqfm8 wrote

Here in Portland they did at least one showing of some of the old Superman cartoons. The showing featured (IIRC) live music, and it also had some local personalities doing the voice work live.


peteroh9 t1_j2nbvvw wrote

I'll keep this in mind, but without further context, it's really just a bit of trivia to me. How is it different than symphonies or other pieces that were meant to be played straight through?


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2ncyhh wrote

In any art form there’s the art, but also the craft. You can have the best idea or theme for a painting, but if you don’t understand the craft of mixing paints to make the right shade, you probably won’t become a well regarded painter.

As a composer you can have an amazing idea or even an amazing melody, but if you don’t understand how to write it in a way that real musicians can play, it won’t be a successful musical work.

So practically that means things like having enough rests in the parts so players aren’t playing too much without a break. Writing parts not just in the high register which may be more physically taxing. Not having a melody in one clarinet that’s accompanied by the entire brass section, because it wouldn’t get heard without microphones and amplification.

There are plenty more examples I could come up, with but those are a few that don’t work well for live performance, but are easily overcome in the world of studio recording where you can adjust the balance any way you want, or stop and re record passages at will, or save the upcoming difficult passage to record tomorrow when everyone’s fresh again.

That doesn’t mean that film scores aren’t great art. It just means that they weren’t designed with the same “live performance” type requirements in mind. The craft of film scoring is a bit different than the craft of writing a symphony.


peteroh9 t1_j2nfphh wrote

That's really helpful, especially the part about having the entire brass section accompany a single clarinet. Were you thinking of a specific movie when you mentioned that or is it fairly common?


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2nj9eo wrote

No, nothing specific. But balancing the orchestra is one of the things we spend the most time on for live concerts, and it’s something that you don’t really have to worry about as much (but still should be considered) when doing studio work. So it was just an example I thought of that comes up from time to time.


SocialMediaMakesUSad t1_j2qerlm wrote

I can clearly understand how they weren't designed that way, but what makes it difficult to play? Don't they play regular concerts that are that long with no breaks or one break in the middle?


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2rpdes wrote

Check my other comments for more on this, but the biggest factor is not how long a concert is, but how much continuous playing is expected of people within the concert. Live music is designed with rests built into the parts to get a few seconds off here and there. Film scores are often written with more continuous playing because in the studio you wouldn’t play the whole thing start to finish. You’d do a few minutes, stop, listen, do a few more, etc.


CamelSpotting t1_j2q688t wrote

So that's why lord of the rings is so rare. That would be a serious marathon.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2rp4wp wrote

Add to that fact that most movie concerts like this are contractually limited to 3 hours, or else the musicians need to be paid overtime. LOTR Fellowship of the Ring is 2 hours 58 minutes. Add in an intermission, and all of a sudden you’re over the 3 hour time limit and paying a lot extra for overtime.


baumpop t1_j2ooh1h wrote

Welcome to live music baby. Most bands play for hours at a time without the accompaniment or sheet music. All in the noggin.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2oqmia wrote

> Welcome to live music baby.

Thanks? I’ve been doing this job for more than a decade at this point.

> Most bands play for hours at a time without the accompaniment or sheet music. All in the noggin.

The difference between “most bands” and a professional symphony orchestra is that most bands have a repertoire of a few dozen songs which they memorize and play again and again. It’s easy to memorize things when you play the same few repeatedly.

But professional orchestras learn 1-3 new concerts worth of music every week. If it’s a big masterworks week, we probably only learn one set of music. Like an overture, concerto, and a symphony. But in some weeks we might play a kids show, then a light classics concert, then a pops concert all in the same week.

So a masterworks schedule might look like 5 rehearsals and 3 concerts of all the same music in a week. Then we are done with that music and doing something else the next week.

A busier week might be one rehearsal and one concert of kids show music, then the next day two rehearsals of light classics, then the following day two light classics concerts, then the following day a pops rehearsal and concert, then the last day two more pops concerts. So that’s 3 sets of music we’ve learned all within one week.

So when you have only a few rehearsals to learn something, perform it, then show up next week and learn and perform an entirely new set of music, sheet music becomes really important, and it’s not feasible to memorize something you’re only going to play for one week.

I’m not saying one is better or worse. It’s just different. Musical acts that play the same music repeatedly can memorize it more easily. If you play new music every week, it’s not practical to memorize.


PubeSmoker69 t1_j2nivr7 wrote

This comment makes no sense. Professional musicians do long and complicated concerts all the time. Operas for example. Idk what your point even is.

They also take breaks for these orchestra screenings if the films are long. I went to a LOTR one and there were two breaks.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2njvcs wrote

Hey, thanks, /u/PubeSmoker69 for explaining to me how I know nothing about the field that I work in! I mentioned in another comment about some of the differences between music written to be recorded in a studio and music written to be played live. But to reiterate: one of the biggest differences between a movie score and an opera is usually the amount of rests built in to each individual part. Composers writing for live orchestra know that players need rests from time to time, so they’ll have the violins sit out for 32 bars while the woodwinds play a bit.

Intermission is great for taking a break, and of course, movies and operas can both have them, but you still need the little “micro breaks” within the playing portion of a concert to let your body rest and get ready for the next big passage.

I’m not saying ALL movies are scored that way, but that sometimes movie composers don’t build in the same amount of small rests that a concert composer may, and it definitely makes our jobs more challenging.


PubeSmoker69 t1_j2nm1ho wrote

PS: i didnt mean to disrespect you or your profession. I’m a musician myself. Sorry if i offended you.


PubeSmoker69 t1_j2nlsdv wrote

Soundtracks like star wars, LOTR, harry potter (which are the only ones i’ve seen being played around my area) are very much like classical composed pieces of music. There is absolutely rests built into those soundtracks. Not every single instrument is playing 100% of the time.

I kinda see what your point is, but I dont feel like it’s somehow impossible or ruthless for professional musicians to pull something like that off. Sure, it’s challenging, but so are many other professions.


I_play_trombone_AMA t1_j2nohiy wrote

You’re right that every profession has its challenges. But every profession also has its give and take. Tax accountants might be really busy and not have a lot of rest from February-April (in the US), but the rest of the year may be a little calmer.

I’m not saying that every concert should be easy, but that as music has progressed through history, so have the demands placed on players. Mozart wrote some great music, but I wouldn’t call most of what he wrote “heavy” repertoire. It’s definitely difficult, and takes a lot of skill to play, but at least personally, I don’t have to rely on raw strength to play Mozart in the same way that I do when I play something like Mahler.

To give a specific example of how a movie might be different than a symphony or an opera: a few years ago we played the soundtrack to Home Alone. The beginning of the movie has some orchestral moments, but also plenty of rests. It’s not that difficult for most of the movie. As the movie progresses and gets into the finale where Kevin defends his home with all the booby traps the score gets more and more difficult, with less and less rest, and more constant playing. The end of Home Alone is basically 20-30 minutes of nonstop playing and barely a moment to catch your breath. This is the part of the movie that is really difficult for players.

In an opera or a symphony, composers could write the exact same amount of notes and rests for the orchestra, but they’d be more likely to be spaced out over the course of the entire evening, and not all crammed into one huge stretch of hardly any rest.

Thanks for being kind and explaining that you didn’t mean to offend. I appreciate that! This is just my own experience. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, so if you don’t personally find playing a movie score any harder than playing an opera, more power to you!


DCmusicfan t1_j2nuj4h wrote

Also the orchestra can play an arrangement that is more suited to a live play through.


cainmarko t1_j2m9fsm wrote

I watched Gladiator at the Royal Albert Hall with a live orchestra, and can confirm it's pretty freaking cool.


amitrion t1_j2o6srl wrote

Holy cow! This is a thing?! I want to go... sadly, not in the US. Arrg


daredeviline t1_j2o7n31 wrote

It definitely does happen in the US. I live in Cincinnati and they had a lord of the rings one a few years ago. Keep your eye out!


ThePortalsOfFrenzy t1_j2osmms wrote

I believe they were saying "sadly, [I'm not] in the US."

Common spoken vernacular doesn't always translate to typed comments, and this is a common example. I've gotten myself in the habit of keeping pronouns in my reddit comments.


HeavyLogix t1_j2paapg wrote

The above link the person you responded to was talking about in their comment was a link to the New Jersey symphony….


saltyDragonfly t1_j2oastg wrote

Saw Jurassic Park with a live orchestra in the states, its awesome.


unshavenbeardo64 t1_j2occag wrote

Now i see an orchestra running through high grass and being picked out one by one by a pack of Velociraptors.


Regret_the_Van t1_j2obct6 wrote

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra did one this past weekend with Ghostbusters as the movie they were playing to. I didn't know about it until it was too late because it sounded fun AF


GargantuanGorgon t1_j2q9npm wrote

I'm kind of curious to see some epic film like gladiator prepared for orchestra accompaniment, but with no orchestra. Like, the whole film without music. You never get to see finished films like that and I'd be interested to see just exactly how much you lose (I'm guessing a lot).


anotherlost-one t1_j2tptsf wrote

OMG that must of sound amazing especially the echos that you get when indoors


yvrelna t1_j2men93 wrote

Actually, that's just how movies used to be.

We figured out how to record and play film long before we figured out how to record and play music/dialogue in sync with the movie. In the age of silent cinemas, it used to be that theatres would have an orchestra playing live music to accompany the film.


bayesian13 t1_j2mf8v2 wrote

to me its a good thing to see this sort of thing coming back.  

i think people are hungry for real authentic experiences. live performance. i recently saw the radio city music hall christmas spectactular and hated it. it was basically canned music with a bunch of people lip syncing. i don't like the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade for the same reason.


Clanstantine t1_j2mz03z wrote

My local orchestra did fellowship of the ring last summer and next summer they're doing two towers


GargantuanGorgon t1_j2q9fwt wrote

Oh man that's epic. When the Rohirrim arrive at Helm's Deep, goosebumps. And then Return of the King, the ending, fuggedaboudit, there won't be a dry eye in the house.


mushinnoshit t1_j2octx6 wrote

Yeah I watched It Follows with Disasterpeace doing a live accompaniment in the cinema, it was pretty epic


CactusBoyScout t1_j2p7pkr wrote

Yeah I saw the NY Phil do Koyaanisqatsi live and it was mind-blowing.


GargantuanGorgon t1_j2q8viz wrote

Whoa now that's a score worth the trip out to see live. Did they do the Gregorian chant parts too?


Stillwater215 t1_j2pqoui wrote

I’ve seen a number of these! The Boston Symphony Orchestra typically does a couple of these events every season.


72517g t1_j2qdmvb wrote

The Dallas symphony did LOTR, one movie per year for 3 years. Must've been exhausting for the musicians. Surely it was the theatrical, so it wasn't 4 hours at a time.


Amaranth_devil t1_j2o4pg0 wrote

This is so awesome! I cannot believe that I'm this many years old before finding out that this exists!


MiyagiDough t1_j2m6frr wrote

I actually have once. It was cool.


BrokenEye3 t1_j2m7qny wrote

What, like a whole band, or just an organist?


MiyagiDough t1_j2mbxvo wrote

So it was a bit of a cheat statement in that it wasn't a traditional film. Probably more like a laser show but it was all CGI. The film came with a soundtrack and we were showing it on a domed cinema for a month, the last few weekends we got a live band to come in and play over it.


AlienDelarge t1_j2npirs wrote

The one I went to was the Oregon Symphony Orchestra playing Star Wars to the movie.


Misuzuzu t1_j2nyp1h wrote

I once saw a screening of Harry Potter accompanied by a live orchestra.


Schyte96 t1_j2mop3n wrote

I have been exactly once. It wasn't a band, just one musician with an accordion. Fitting for the Buster Keaton silent movie I guess. It was a fun experience.


wandering-monster t1_j2n2i8g wrote

If you look around your area, there's probably an opportunity!

Especially look for old silent films. I saw Metropolis with a live piano accompaniment, and it really is different in some ineffable way.

Like I'd seen it before and didn't find it all that engaging. But in that show it felt more exciting somehow, and held my attention the entire time.


Ghost4000 t1_j2no5ot wrote

I saw the original star wars trilogy with a live orchestra. It was pretty cool.


miffy495 t1_j2okj3j wrote

Aw man, it's fun as hell. I used to work projection in university and we did special events with old silent movies completely re-scored by local bands. Nosferatu with a psychobilly outfit was the high water mark. Great times.


jyper t1_j2m8ci0 wrote

I have but it was an outdoor screening and often to accompany a so bad it's fun movie


maaseru t1_j2n63kl wrote

Wasn't there a Farrelly brothers movie that actually had like a band playing throughout the movie?


mouse6502 t1_j2o4oj3 wrote

Oh definitely check that out. They do a back To The Future one and play over the entire movie, Silvestri’s score pops!!!


macbeezy_ t1_j2oamty wrote

There’s a Star Wars symphony I desperately want to see. They play the music live and it’s a bucket list of mine.


ThaneOfCawdorrr t1_j2qr6a4 wrote

Even more to the point, tons of movie soundtracks are now generated by electronics rather than a live orchestra, so they were absolutely right.


speaks_truth_2_kiwis t1_j2o9cpr wrote

>Well they weren't wrong, I've never been to a movie with a live band.

How about a live recording?


rustcatvocate t1_j2okust wrote

They do them at the Meyerson. Seen Jurassic Park, Toy Story and a few others. 10/10.