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Chang: live music for a 1927 silent film by Bruce Gaston and Fongnaam

26 August 2022

10:00 - 10:30 hrs (GMT+7)

The silent movie Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness was filmed in Thailand (Siam) in 1925 by Ernest B. Schordsack (1893-1979) and Merian Coldwell Cooper (1893-1973). Bruce Gaston and the Fongnaam ensemble wrote a soundtrack for the film, which premiered in 1983. Gaston’s work transcends the definition and methodology of the traditional movie soundtrack by exploring relationships between the past, present and future. In recent years, a wide variety of live music for silent films has been created through experiments with fusions of traditional Thai and modern Western music. Artists freely combine Thai theatrical music and voice, primitive music from the jungle, computer generated sound effects, imaginary soundscape, and newly created musical instruments to realize their artistic visions. 
The old pictures on the screen, the live performance of the musicians in front of the screen, and the experience of the audience participating in this theatrical event carry on simultaneously. In this presentation, we will discuss this novel integration of art and science, particularly with respect to the live music performance used to accompany the silent film Chang: A Drama of the Wilderness. The screening of a historical film accompanied by a live musical performance is today a relatively rare and special occurrence.

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