Ozu: between cinema and music

“We are talking about a very complex project that is giving us great satisfaction. The music was written rediscovering faithfully the style of Japanese compositions, including special pentatonic scales own of that tradition, so as to adapt it better to the images shot by Ozu more than 80 years ago. Quite a challenge both for me and Pietramala and students which will live perform this music, so different from those we are used to.”

These are the words of Maestro Gian Paolo Mazzoli, teacher at Issm Boccherini of Lucca and head of MAI, Master in Music Applied to Image, promoted by the Institute and by Celsius. Mazzoli for four hands with his collegue, Maestro Fulvio Pietramala, contributed to cure the renewed soundtrack of one among the most intimate films of Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu: Story of floating weeds (1934).

The movie

Story of floating weeds is a tale about marginals, unstable weeds on the margins of society, poising on the border of micro-society par excellence: family. Kinachi is the first actor in a travelling company. When the rain falls thick it’s hard to keep the wolf from the door for the Japanese strolling players: hungry and reduced to ask for cigarettes to the actresses, there’s even steal valuable coins from the they even come to steal the only precious coin from the kitty bank of the only child of the company. Kinachi is aware of his condition, resigned yet addicted to the job like absorbed by a passion-disease, life as a rheumatism poorly healed by moxa. But resignation gives way to awareness when back in the village in which, many years before, his son Shinkichi was born. In agreement with the mother, Kinachi pretends to be his uncle, firmly convinced that his son should not follow his same fate of instability. The meeting between the two will upset the balance by introducing the key of the drama: the floating, uncertain movement of emotions and conflicts in the (so dear to Ozu) family story.

MAXXI & Istuto Boccherini: music & technology

Pietramala speaks of an intense and challenging work, carried out in record time, dividing the work with his colleague Mazzoli; 40 minutes each, merged into a musical continum without perceptible interruption.

“Of course we were aware that, while doing work separately, however, we had to give a sense of unity to the total of the music”

claims Pietramala. In fact, in his music production studio, he has scheduled a work area on Logic Pro X, a sequencing software which subsequently he passed to Mazzoli, in order to work (even though separately) on the same basis of sampled sounds. Achieved the work, Pietramala put together the two works into one score, transferring the papers on the Sibelius notation software, so as to deliver to connect the whole score in time for the first rehearsal.

“I must say that in the meantime I was worried about the idea of ​​having to perform live the music score, locked on the film timing. Even though Gian Paolo is a talented director with years of experience, it was obviously impossible to expect him to stay anchored to the scenes in a live performance where the interpretive nuances of tempo and music varies from time to time. “

Says Maestro Pietramala which, to remedy the problem, decided to “print” on the movie the “timecode”, the time that passes as the film is in projection. In this way the director, with the help of an assistant, could conduct the orchestra having the reference of time and thus remaining always synchronized.

“The thing proved to be very effective at the concert at the MAXXI in Rome, where the final result was very satisfactory. Today to make an operation like this, it’s necessary a certain “know-how” by using technology, in order to address also unusual situations like this. “

concludes the Maestro.

On the music scores of Ozu

80 minutes of music that twenty elements of the Institute orchestra will perform in world premiere, accompanied by the sober and majestic images of the film. The ensemble will include not only strings, brass, woodwinds, percussion and piano, but also traditional Japanese instruments. One way to bring back to life the director’s first film through the unheard sounds of a Japan of train-travels, families and floating humans. The Japan of Ozu.

“What stands out from this project is the growth of the Institute and its statement at a national and international level. It is thanks to this work that our teachers and our boys are increasingly involved in quality initiatives such as Cinema Maxxi”, commented Fabrizio Papi, head of Issm Boccherini. The collaboration with Maxxi marks a milestone in the growth of the Institute, in Italy and abroad.”

April 2, Istituto Boccherini will perform again the live interpretation of Story of floating weeds in the frame of Lucca Film Festival e Europa Cinema: once again, the interdisciplinarity vocation of our festival is underlined in all its evidence.