Find out what goes on inside the mind of Ben Model before, during and after playing for a silent movie. Hear insider info, live performance recordings, reflections on gigs and films, learn about how a film accompanist prepares…and more, from one of the USA's leading silent film accompanists.
ep. 39: "Adventures in Sound!"
Ben tracks his own journey to find the digital devices that best re-create or at least evoke the classic theater pipe organ experience under modern screening conditions.
ep. 38: scoring for scenes that suggest or specify a piece of music, and scoring a film from 1948
On this episode Ben talks about meeting an audience's expectations of a score when a certain piece of music or style is indicated onscreen, and in a rare case of a non-narrative film made after the silent era. Also covered are silent era mood cues and cue sheets, Marion Davies in "When Knighthood Was in Flower", techniques in performance to match music to action, this episode's FAQ, and more. Live performance clips include Valentino's tango dance in "Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", Keaton's pantomime to "The Prisoner's Song", and Ben's new score for Helen Levitt's "In the Street" (1948).
ep. 37: Mostly Lost, Keaton's The Cameraman and The General, an electric organ and Laurel & Hardy
On this episode Ben talks about: the annual Mostly Lost film identification workshop at the Library of Congress, currently postponed until 2021; underscoring a key scene in Keaton's "The Cameraman" and noticing a parallel with "Singin' In The Rain", playing for "Spite Marriage", the challenge of introducing and presenting "The General" at a college show; playing for Laurel & Hardy on a 1980s electric theatre organ, and using that console's MIDI function to bring the sound of the Wurlitzer to a cinema; how Ben chooses and utilizes piano or organ for score recordings, and much more.
ep. 36: scoring Robin Hood and a 1927 Carmen, using the orchestral and cartoony sounds of a theatre organ, more live-streaming
On this episode Ben talks about: using music an audience may or may not expect to hear during a film in preparing scores for shows of Fairbanks' "Robin Hood" and Raoul Walsh's "Loves of Carmen"; using underscore to help smooth over missing footage; playing the theatre organ like it's an orchestra and sparingly using its "toy counter"; expanding his live-streamed silent film shows beyond his weekly "Silent Comedy Watch Party", and more.
episode 36: "Famous Players and Famous Melodies"
Silent Comedy Watch Party updateAccompanying Westerns - Art Acord in The Showdown and William S. Hart in Three Word BrandFairbanks’s Robin Hood; incorporating songs written for the film by Victor SchertzingerProgramming Douglas Fairbanks films for performance todayKelly Kitchens from Dallas talks about The Silent Comedy Watch PartyThe Loves of Carmen versus the melodies of BizetImprovising in the style of traditional folk music formsCreating musical bridges for missing frames and scenesExpanding live streaming accompaniment to silent film online for art houses and institutionsSponsorship: Accidentally Preserved Volume 4 from Undercrank ProductionsPlaying more orchestrally for The White Sister starring Mary Pickford and Ronald ColmanFAQ: “Don’t”s and “be careful”s for sound effects on a theater organ (the “toy counter”)Kerr recommends Kanopy, a streaming classic film service.
Links from the episode:
Watch The Silent Comedy Watch Party Episode 11Watch The Silent Comedy Watch Party Episode 12Watch The Showdown starring Art Acord, accompanied by BenWatch Three Word Brand starring William S. Hart accompanied by BenRead Rosie Taylor’s blog post about Three Word Brand at Southwest SilentsHewlett Woodmere Public Library“Just An Old Love Song” by Victor Schertzinger written for Robin Hood (1922)The Museum of Modern Art Department of FilmSteamboat Bill, Jr. online with live accompaniment by Ben Model for The Cinema Arts Center (Huntington NY)Accidentally Preserved Volume FourSuggest a Frequently Asked Question for Ben to answer in the podcastNick White’s Vintage Sound EffectsMike Dobson - composer, sound designer and foley artistKanopy Streaming Classic Film
ep. 35: Pottery at the Met, Behind the Door in Nebraska, Eisenstein in Bklyn, Clair on Long Island, plus FAQ
On this episode, Ben and Kerr talk about a cancelled gig at the Metropolitan Museum of Art turning into an online one, Gage County Nebraska and Hollywood, accompanying Russian silent films, scoring a French film for an audience with live-translated intertitles. Plus: using leitmotifs, finding a lost reel of a Baby Peggy comedy, piano tuning and this week's silent film book recommendation.
ep. 34: the Silent Comedy Watch Party, scoring Hitchcock, "Intrigue" and Nell Shipman, plus FAQ
On this "pandemic catch-up" episode, Ben Model talks about creating and presenting The Silent Comedy Watch Party on YouTube, discusses some recent travels and shows in Boise, shares samples of new scores to two new Blu-ray releases from Kino Lorber for a Hitchcock silent and a rare film made by Julia Crawford Ivers, plus the podcast's new co-host Kerr Lockhart joins in for a new FAQ segment, and Ben and Kerr share some silent film home video recommendations.
Great Content for Silent Film Lovers
Where can I nominate Ben for Sainthood for what he does with Undercrank Productions???... because we are all seriously indebted to him for his work.
A niche within a niche
Ben Model runs Kickstarters to release rare films and owns Undercrank Productions which formally releases them, but he is best described as a silent film accompanist. His work can be heard on many silent film DVDs as well as in person at silent film screenings across the country. This podcast gives insight into what it means to play for a film, why a musician makes the choices he does, and what silent movie accompaniment sounded like when the films were new versus what we hear today. The podcast addresses a niche within a niche, which makes it one-of-a-kind.
One of my most favorite podcasts!
I am so glad and thankful that Ben decided to produce this podcast series - this podcast offers such a wealth of inforamtion, insights and fun facts about anything and everything about silent film. Highly recommended for anyone who loves old films and film history, not only just silent film.