Sounds From The Empty City (soundtrack)

Megarrity, David Robert (2014) Sounds From The Empty City (soundtrack). [Inter-arts]

Sounds from The Empty City Cover Image (Image: JPEG 3MB)
Published Version.
Image credit: Illustration by Jonathon Oxlade

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These wordless songs were composed as music first, and soundtrack second. There is a difference. A soundtrack will always be connected with whatever it is accompanying. Music doesn’t neccessarily need to reference anything else.

The Empty City transformed a picture book into a non-verbal performance combining the live and animated. Without spoken words the show would dance on the dangerous intersection of music, image and action.

In both theatre and film (and this production drew on both traditions) soundtrack and music are often added on at the end when everything’s been pre-determined, a passive, responsive mode for such a powerful artform. It’s literally added in ‘post’. In The Empty City, music was present from its inception and grew with the show. It was active in process and product. It frequently led rehearsals and shaped other key decisions in virtual and live performance.

Rather than tailor-make music towards pre-determined moments, independent compositions created without specific reference to narrative experimented with the creation of a flock of small musical pieces. I was interested in seeing how they flew and where they roosted, rather than having them born and raised in (narrative) captivity.

The sonic palette is largely acoustic, incorporating ukulele, prepared piano and supported by a range of other elements tending towards electronica. Eventually more than seventy pieces of music were made for this show, twice the number used.

These pieces were then placed in relation to the emerging scenes, then adapted in duration, texture and progression to develop a relationship with the scene. In this way, music (even when it’s synced) has a conversation with a performance, an exchange that may result in surprise rather than fulfillment of expectation. Leitmotif emerged from loops and layers, as the pieces of music ‘conversed’ with each other, rather than being premeditated and imposed.

Nineteen of these tracks are compiled for this release, which finds the compositions (which progressed through many versions) poised at the moment between their fullest iteration as ‘music’ and their editing and full incorporation into a sychronised soundtrack. They are released as the began: as 'music-alone' (Kivy)

In picture-book writing, the mutual interplay of text and image is sometimes referred to as interanimation , and this is the kind of symbiosis this project sought in the creation of the soundtrack. Reviewers of the noted the important role of the soundtrack in two separate productions of The Empty City: “The original score…takes centre stage” (Borhani, 2013) “…swept up in its repetition of sounds and images, like a Bach fugue” (Zampatti, 2013)

Impact and interest:

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Full-text downloads:

30 since deposited on 07 Mar 2014
17 in the past twelve months

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ID Code: 68128
Item Type: Creative Work (Inter-arts)
Refereed: No
Other Contributors:
Role Contributors
recording and mixing
  • Brett Collery
cover illustration
  • Jonathon Oxlade
Material: Music (soundtrack)
Measurements or Duration: 19 Tracks, 35 minutes
Keywords: Music, Performance, Composed Theatre, Soundtrack, Theatre
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Drama Theatre and Performance Studies (190404)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING (190000) > PERFORMING ARTS AND CREATIVE WRITING (190400) > Music Composition (190406)
Divisions: Past > Schools > Drama
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2014 David Megarrity
Deposited On: 07 Mar 2014 01:07
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2014 03:53

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