FIMUCS – 2nd Edition – Festival summary
Today, February 26th, just one month ago, kicked off the 2nd edition of FIMUCS – International Film Music Festival of Seville, organized by Loyola University, Sevilla Film Orchestra, and SoundTrackFest, offering 3 concerts and two days of conferences.
To remember this 2nd edition, the journalist José Carlos Fernández Moscoso, responsible for the ‘Ultimo Estreno’ YouTube channel, brings us this summary article of what was experienced there, exclusively for SoundTrackFest.
FIMUCS - 2nd Edition - 26th to 29th January 2023
The II International Film Music Festival of Seville – Festival Internacional de Música de Cine de Sevilla-Fimucs became the focus of attention for professionals and followers of film music in this country from 26th to 29th of January. Fimucs, whose first edition took place in November 2021, thus demonstrates its credentials to continue to establish itself in the calendar of must-attend events in this field, based on the powerful panorama of Spanish composers currently existing and without ruling out that in future editions the attraction of its programme will be extended to include the presence of leading musicians working in other European countries or in the United States.
For the time being, Fimucs has two editions with a brilliant line-up of Spanish composers and a second edition whose organizers have put into practice the strategy of linking it with the celebration of the Goya Awards in Seville, a ceremony which took place on February 11, barely two weeks after Fimucs. Hence the main reason for the change of dates – from November to February – when it comes to holding this event which, in its third edition, we will have the opportunity to see on what dates it ends up becoming firmly established in the calendar.
‘Gala with the Goya Awards’ was the title of the concert that Fimucs hosted on Friday 27 January within the planned programme that included three musical events, the first two of great importance – Thursday 26 was dedicated to adventure film music – and the third with the academic spirit that permeates this festival in its attention to the university students who will become future musicians, an aspect attended by the festival thanks to the collaboration of the Loyola University. Thus, on Sunday, January 29, the students of the Degree in Musical Creation and Production and the Degree in Performing and Cinematographic Arts had the opportunity to perform a concert with popular themes from films, television series and animated films arranged and reinterpreted by them, from ‘Chariots of Fire’ to ‘The Godfather’, including examples of animation such as ‘Mazinger Z’ or ‘The Pink Panther’. Around twenty themes for an initiative that promotes young artists and corroborates what has been one of the hallmarks of Fimucs since its origins: the commitment to musical training and the expansion of knowledge not only for future musicians, but also for film music lovers, specialists, film critics and, in short, the general public with an interest in learning about different aspects of how film music is created and how it reaches the public.
This is possible thanks to the training sessions that, on Friday and Saturday, were held with the attendance of an average of more than a hundred attendees at each of the seven meetings spread over the two days. Fimucs does not rest: in the afternoon-evening concerts and during the day it offers the opportunity – free just by registering in advance – to obtain training thanks to these meetings in which the dozen film music composers invited to the festival took part. It is a real luxury to enjoy the exhibitions of great names such as José Nieto, Bingen Mendizábal, or David Hernando, founder of the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, responsible for the recording of more than a thousand soundtracks for the audiovisual sector.
Spanish film music. The risk taken
If there is one thing that cannot be blamed on the organizers of Fimucs, it is their commitment to Spanish composers, with all that this entails in terms of risk. It is true that, in this recently completed second edition, the Goya brand provided media backing, although this probably had more influence on the festival’s prestigious ties than on attracting the general public, who still have a long way to go to get to know the film music made in Spain. And that, precisely, should be everyone’s objective, not just Fimucs’.
Because of the skepticism of the average spectator who decides whether or not to fill the theatres and concert halls, Fimucs’ bet is not without risks, but I am convinced that, as the coming editions go by and the names of Manu Riveiro, Arnau Bataller, or Federico Jusid gradually become better known among, I insist, what we call ‘the general public’, the organizers of the festival will be wearing a smile of satisfaction gained through a great deal of perseverance.
In ‘Gala with Goya Awards’ we had the opportunity to hear live soundtracks that, in one way or another, their composers have had some relation with the awards, either winning them or being nominated. Combining works by historically acclaimed names in Spanish and international film music such as José Nieto or Roque Baños with those of Bingen Mendizabal -many years doing music although he has not been very fond of selling his excellent work to the media-, Víctor Reyes or Zeltia Montes resulted in a diverse concert where to choose according to tastes and somewhat icy for several reasons: the general lack of knowledge of the works performed, the enormity of a venue with 1,900 seats -the auditorium of the Cartuja Center Cite was the venue for the concerts on Thursday and Friday and quite cold physiognomically speaking for a not-so-majority bet- and the lack of any way to encourage initiatives to ‘warm up’ the spectators. This would have been ideal in moments like the interpretation of Augusto Algueró’s music or the Sevillie ties propitiated by the presence of ‘Carmen’ and ‘La piel del tambor’ in the repertoire, or to take advantage of the fact that the composers were present to interact. And, of course, to avoid for later editions the incomprehensible automatism wielded by Antonio Dechent, rather listless as a presenter.
However, I think it is likely that the warmth that seems to have been lacking on some occasions in Fimucs 2023 does not detract one iota from the quality of the selected pieces, the prestige of having a dozen composers in Seville, and other achievements that Fimucs can proudly and rightfully point to. The concert ‘Gala with the Goya Awards’ showed us that Augusto Algueró was a great composer, in whose music we can detect the influences of great classics such as Max Steiner, Elmer Bernstein, or Ottorino Respighi. That Manu Riveiro composed one of the great and unknown soundtracks of contemporary Spanish cinema in 2018 with ‘La sombra de la ley’. That the Mendizabal-Uriarte work on Bajo Ulloa’s model narrative works as heartbreakingly in ‘Baby’ as it does outside the film or that the reminiscences of Goldsmith in ‘La piel del tambor’ corroborate why Roque Baños is our most Hollywoodian composer. Or the fair coverage we should give to the meteoric evolution of Zeltia Montes from ‘Pradolongo’ to the award-winning ‘El buen patrón’, performed by the Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla thanks to a somewhat creaky orchestral adaptation for purists of works like this created for a limited number of instruments. This was also the case of ‘Mediterráneo’, by Arnau Bataller, and the demonstration that Federico Jusid moves like a fish in water in dramatic or romantic music following classical patterns with the interpretation of ‘El verano que vivimos’ and ‘Orígenes secretos’. Needless to say that ‘Carmen’, by José Nieto, came to give the concert the patina that the masters bring with their works, in this case with one of the jewels of one of the most prestigious and universal Spanish composers.
Concert - Gala with the Goya Awards - 27/01/2023 (PROGRAM)
- Classic Maestros – Augusto Algueró – Suite ‘History of our Cinema’, with music from: La Fierecilla Domada, El Ruiseñor de las Cumbres, El Secreto de Mónica, Cabriola, Las Chicas de la Cruz Roja
- Jose Nieto – Carmen (2003) – Suite
- Zeltia Montes – The Good Boss (2021) – Suite [Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- Manu Riveiro – Gun City (2018) – Suite
- Arnau Bataller – Mediterraneo: The Law of the Sea (2021) – Suite [Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- Bingen Mendizabal/Koldo Uriarte – Baby (2020) – Suite [Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- Victor Reyes – En la ciudad sin límites (2002) – Suite [Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- Roque Baños – The Man from Rome (2022) – Suite [Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- Federico Jusid – El Verano que Vivimos (2020) y Unknown Origins (2020) – Suite [Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla – ROSS
David Hernando Rico – Conductor
Host – Antonio Dechent
The reason of prevailing over (wonderful) entertainment
Do not think that I have committed an unforgivable oversight. I have simply ‘rebelled’ against the chronology of the 2nd editon of Fimucs when it comes to detailing what the festival had to offer. If I have first exposed the keys of the concert ‘Gala with the Goya Awards’ held on January 27, instead of the one that took place the day before, it is precisely because I believe that this concert is the ‘heart’ of Fimucs, the reason to be of everything else. The titanic effort to bring together a wide range of musical works written for Spanish cinema, with the presence of their composers, is the cornerstone of a four-day musical-educational event. With the risks I have mentioned above, but it is the decided – and necessary – bet of Fimucs. So much so that, even without the organization having perhaps hierarchized the festival in this way, any other musical event in its program becomes a ‘garnish’, without this meaning that the works of other composers are undervalued, much less undervaluing the work of the orchestra or those who make it possible for the rest of the music heard at Fimucs to also be a success. That is why I give the character of ‘secondary’ to the extraordinary concert lived under the epigraph of ‘An evening of adventures’, in which immortal soundtracks sounded like extracted from the same films thanks to the good work of the ROSS and the baton of David Hernando.
To start a concert with ‘Ben-Hur’ is to create goosebumps. It always has been because Rozsa made immortal music. It was especially moving to enjoy a suite from ‘The First Knight’ that made some of us remember when Jerry Goldsmith conducted the ROSS in 1998, in the well-remembered Encounters of Stage and Film Music, and offered a selection of those soundtracks that were then judged as minor by the master, and the perspective of time has left that perceptive error in evidence. The ‘King Kong’ suite once again demonstrated the quality of James Newton Howard‘s music even in his less praised works, and John Powell‘s spectacular and catchy ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ is already a classic in the list of contemporary scores of its genre. The inclusion of Blanca Miralles Rodriguez‘s voice in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ is a ‘warm’ detail. The girl, finalist of the popular TV show ‘La voz Kids’, moved her timbre like a fish in water during the specific moments of her participation in the suite of Howard Shore and in the lobby of the Cartuja Center Cite, where she posed for photographers, she was cheerful and close and with the halo of a child star. Blanca is twelve years old and it would be unfair to judge the nuances of her performance in a work like Shore’s with rigor.
It is preferable to keep the gesture of the contribution as a hint of warmth to a concert in which the Spanish presence was also relevant with the ROSS performing suites specially mounted for Fimucs as world premieres of the soundtracks of ‘Capitán Trueno’ by Luis Ivars, ‘Elcano y Magallanes la primera vuelta al mundo’ by Joseba Beristain and ‘Tadeo Jones 3-La tabla esmeralda’ by Zacarías de la Riva. All three composers were present at the concert. Ivars has also been involved in the festival, collaborating closely with the organization. Beristain and De la Riva were part of the line-up of speakers at the morning training sessions held on Friday and Saturday, which we will discuss below, after concluding the commentary on ‘An Evening of Adventures‘ by pointing out that it was missed the overture to Michael Kamen’s ‘Robin Hood Prince of Thieves’ instead of the theme chosen for its performance and the culmination of the concert with two pieces outside the program: Elmer Bernstein‘s ‘The Magnificent Seven’ and a compilation of John Williams‘ themes which, among others, included bars from ‘Jaws’, ‘ET’ or ‘Superman’. A safe bet that always pleases the general public so that they leave these musical events humming the leitmotif of ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Star Wars’, even though those of us who have been covering concerts for years have been saturated by repetition. But… What the hell, it’s John Williams’ music live!
Concert - An Evening of Adventures - 26/01/2023 (PROGRAM)
- Miklós Rózsa – Ben-Hur (1959) – Suite
- Howard Shore – The Lord of the Rings – The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) – Suite
- Michael Kamen – Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves (1991)
- Luis Ivars – Captain Thunder (2011) – Suite [New Suite – Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- Jerry Goldsmith – First Knight (1995) – Suite
- Joseba Beristain – Elcano & Magellan: The First Voyage Around the World (2019) – Suite [New Suite – Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- Harry Gregson-Williams – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) – Suite
- Zacarías M. de la Riva – Tad the Lost Explorer and the Emerald Tablet (2022) – Suite [New Suite – Special for FIMUCS – World Premiere]
- James Newton Howard – King Kong (2005) – Suite
- John Powell – How to Train Your Dragon (2010) – Suite
- John Williams – Hook (1991) – Flight to Neverland
- Elmer Bernstein – Magnificent Seven – Theme
- John Williams – Medley
Real Orquesta Sinfónica de Sevilla – ROSS
David Hernando Rico – conductor
Blanca Miralles Rodríguez, vocal soloist
Host– Javi Cuadrado
Training, key at Fimucs
As we mentioned earlier, the other cornerstone of Fimucs is its formative character. The seven meetings that took place over two days with guest composers are worth their weight in gold for those who wish to enrich their academic training, but also for any film music lover who wants to know the ins and outs of its composition, recording or distribution among other factors.
We take a chronological tour through the panels held during the mornings of Friday and Saturday, emphasizing once again that this initiative has been a hallmark of Fimucs since its first edition and it is essential to maintain it in the future. Not all film music festivals have the possibility for composers to open up to express their opinions in very well organized forums, timed and moderated by Francisco Cuadrado and Gorka Oteiza, with the exception of the meeting between Arnau Bataller and Víctor Reyes, which was led by the musician and professor Tony Domenech.
The pending and necessary corporatism. Musimagen
The formative talks of Fimucs 2023 began with a meeting with Xavier Capellas, composer and president of Musimagen. “Selling your soul to the devil: buyout contracts and TV platforms” was the title of a presentation in which Musimagen had special relevance, an association that was born around the year 2000 and that aims to unite composer-musicians both in the exchange of experiences and in common advice or the defense of their rights.
“We belong to a solitary profession, we do not have many opportunities to talk and exchange interests among us and thanks to Musimagen we share our concerns,” explained Capellas, who did not hesitate to describe as “pandemic what is happening to us in the field of intellectual property”, referring especially to the pretensions of the big platforms to buy audiovisual productions, obtaining full ownership of them and the revenues generated by their technical or artistic merits. In other words, the composer no longer has any right or benefit over his own work.
To avoid the ‘Buyout’, Musimagen defends the rights of the collective being similar to a union, also provides guidance on what should be charged for each job, the realization of the budget of the composer to present to producers, set economic minimums or even what in theory should be an optimal organization of working hours. Pablo Cervantes, a member of Musimagen – an association of which most Spanish composers are already members – also intervened in the debate when he was in the audience to defend the need to “dignify this profession”, affirming that it is false to think that the existence of more composers than productions can cause unfair competition. “Being surrounded by professionals who do the same as us does not mean that they are going to take our work. It’s like when you go to a shopping mall full of stores and you choose when you buy,” Cervantes said, using a simple but illustrative comparison.
Arnau Bataller also intervened from the audience seats to talk about the difficulties of creating a professional association of composers of film music, given the requirement that would mean having to ask its members to have regulated studies to belong to it, something that, in a percentage of cases, do not have certain composers “who work as hard as anyone else”, so it would not come to defend the rights of a whole group not valued as essential by society, as Cervantes also lamented in his words.
Víctor Reyes and Arnau Bataller. Work optimization.
Second formative talk at Fimucs on the morning of Friday January 27th entitled ‘Virtual instruments, real instruments and everything in between’. This round table discussion focused on the need to optimize the work done by composers when writing music in view of the use of new technologies combined with the use of ‘tangible’ instruments. The debate was held by Víctor Reyes and Arnau Bataller.
The composer from Salamanca, who began his speech recalling his beginnings as an arranger of ‘Cruz y raya’ or José María Cano and his opera ‘Luna’, has become the musician of choice of the interesting filmmaker Rodrigo Cortés (‘Buried’, ‘Red Lights’) after his beginnings in the world of cinema at the hands of Miguel Hermoso musicalizing the film ‘Como un relámpago’ (1996). Reyes projected a video to show the rooms of the studio where he works, in which computers are compatible with the instruments he uses and even his first keyboards, stating as a first premise that “we all try to do the best job we can and I always prefer to think that I can and I have the creative capacity to do great things, I do not have an intention of modesty. I come from the pop world, playing records when I was 15, playing the piano and doing things with bands; all that together with Queen, AC-DC and Morricone and Williams, that mix has generated my desires and ambitions for the 25 years I’ve been making music. I value an ambition more than an academic career,” he said.
The author of the BSO of ‘En la ciudad sin límites’, witty and caustic in some of his interventions, said that there are composers “whose works have more to do with how well they record than how well they compose”, citing Hans Zimmer as an example of this.
For his part, Arnau Bataller defended a very important maxim in his reflection by assuring that “technology is not an objective, but a means through which you create”, explaining that “it is important to optimize your tools to program your work and not waste time with technology every time you have to compose, thus focusing on creation and not thinking about where each thing is and what each process is like”.
It was very interesting to talk about ‘Mediterráneo’ in this formative meeting. Nominated for a Goya in 2022, it is a soundtrack actually written for string quartet “and junk”, as Bataller himself said in his speech. A score that serves as an example of experimentation in which the composer explained that he had used from a metal fence to an Ikea chair and plastic objects. Surprising was the video projected in which a musician ‘plays’ a fence in whose tubes holes have been drilled as if it were a flute and that generates sounds that Bataller used in ‘Mediterráneo’ as a metaphor for the theme of the film, in which immigration is the sad synoptic protagonist of the film, explaining that the fences are precisely elements of obstacle to not let people pass from one side to the other and relating the symbolism and the sound generated by them with the problem of the diaspora of immigrants.
Animated films and music. Zacarías M. de la Riva and Joseba Beristain
The (fortunate) circumstances -or perhaps the clinical eye of the organizers of Fimucs- wanted that in this edition of the festival and in one of the formative talks the name of a composer who has had much to do in the winning productions of the Goyas in the field of animation was present. Because Joseba Beristain is the composer of both ‘Unicorn Wars’ and ‘Loop’, feature film and short film respectively awarded by the academics in their respective categories. The composer from Guipuzcoa spoke about the way and philosophy of composing both soundtracks, offering very enriching notions in view of the disparate themes of both films, one of them brutally dystopian (‘Unicorn Wars’) and the short film ‘Loop’ with a minimalist theme -the absurd alienation of the movements of the current human being- for which Beristain makes use of a music with crucial importance of organic sounds that are constantly repeated to accentuate the mathematical nature of the anonymous characters. A short film that denounces how the human being has been transformed into an automaton absorbed by cell phones, the driving of vehicles, the multitudinous vision of sport or school indoctrination.
For his part, Zacarías M. de la Riva focused especially on his musical work for the Tad Jones character saga and the process of creating the soundtrack from the moment he receives the script, the image recordings of the first animation strokes and the gradual incorporation of textures and elements until the film is complete with the music.
In case you are curious, here is a link to the great short film ‘Loop’:
Music as a universal language. The film Baby
The academic sessions on Friday 27th ended with one of the most awaited appointments. Fimucs brought together Bingen Mendizábal, Koldo Uriarte, and Juanma Bajo Ulloa to talk about ‘Baby’, the latest film by the director of ‘Alas de mariposa’ or ‘La madre muerta’. A successful meeting that invited both to expand knowledge about the narrative role of film music and to debate whether it, being an element of a film, is capable of sustaining ‘the whole’ that is a multidisciplinary audiovisual product. An appearance to scrutinize ‘Baby’ would not be understood without the one and trio that make up Ulloa, Mendizábal and Uriarte, creators of a film without dialogues “but never mute”, which its director clarified in his intervention. “We have seen in some cinemas that screened ‘Baby’ posters indicating “silent film”, and ‘Baby’ is not silent. Silent is something that has no sound, and a film with all the sounds and music, simply that has no dialogue, is not silent at all. We have dispensed with one of the existing narrative elements in cinema precisely to give value to other purely cinematographic elements, since dialogue also belongs to literature, to theater,” Ulloa explained.
Bingen Mendizábal described ‘Baby’ as “a puzzle in which sounds play a crucial role”. For his part, Koldo Uriarte revealed that the director of the film “gave me a free hand to convey with music something that was both beautiful and painful at the same time as it is shown in ‘Baby’, and I worked approaching those emotions with a trial and error methodology”. Uriarte was facing the creation of a soundtrack for the first time, although he already had extensive creative experience with Bingen Mendizábal. “We didn’t do any planning, first we each composed on our own, we selected four leit-motifs without knowing much about how to distribute them and we tried things out. It came to a climax when it occurred to us, especially to Juanma, who has a musician’s heart, that the motifs composed by each of us should pass through the filter of the other”, thus exposing the degree of complicity between the two that has led to the extraordinary result that is the music of ‘Baby’.
Making the most of the presence of the three creators at Fimucs, the conference also dedicated a good part of its time to delve into the first movie collaborations of Juanma Bajo Ulloa and Bingen Mendizabal: ‘Alas de Mariposa’ and ‘La madre Muerta’, took the opportunity to talk about the collaboration of Bingen Mendizabal and Koldo Uriarte with the Basque musician Mikel Urdangarín in his latest album ‘Badena ta ez dena’, in a change of register outside the audiovisual work, Mendizabal’s beginnings with the Basque rock band ‘Hertzainak’ were discussed, and the event ended with a mention of the documentary about Bingen Mendizabal ‘Bidean Jarraituz (Continuing on the road)’, which was released in a couple of weeks in cinemas and whose director, Aitor López de Aberásturi, was present in the room.
Federico Jusid and Zeltia Montes. Linked to the success or failure of the film
With the explicit title ‘How to create a soundtrack and not die trying’, the Fimucs training meetings resumed early Saturday morning. Participating in the first of the three meetings were composers Federico Jusid and Zeltia Montes.
Jusid, who has composed soundtracks such as ‘El secreto de sus ojos’ or ‘El verano que vivimos’, explained how thanks to working for co-productions he was able to expand his work from Argentina to Spain and the good international tour of some films he scored enabled him to work since then in the United States among other countries with solid film industry. “And our luck is closely linked to the success of the film for which we are hired,” said Jusid in this sense, a composer who alternates the creation of film music with concert music.
Both Jusid and Montes presented their particular creative work methodologies, the possibilities of making music writing compatible with the necessary processes of translation, recording, editing, etc. of previously commissioned projects in which the composer must also be involved, and the obstacles that may be encountered in terms of deadlines, to cite an example. The Argentine-born composer lamented a certain “reification and mechanization” in filmmaking processes. “There is something about the technology that has affected our lives. I have gone from working on the moviola where the film was cut and pasted to a different current system. Today it is so easy to handle all that that in half an hour you learn to cut a film, but not to narrate. So the exercise of internal vision has been losing muscle. And that also happens in music. There is a kind of reification and mechanization, and in some cases working that way is less stimulating,” he said.
Zeltia Montes, whose soundtrack for ‘El buen patrón’ won the Goya for best original soundtrack in 2022, took the opportunity to express her fear that the libraries “end up killing the musicians and nobody wants to record because the directors are satisfied with them”. The composer recalled that “an orchestra is a living entity” defending it against the technicality of plugins or the aforementioned libraries.
David Hernando and Manuel Riveiro. Recording "at first sight”
The second of the round tables on Saturday at Fimucs (“The process of recording film music”) was attended by David Hernando, who came to contribute the concept of film music from the conductor’s point of view. Hernando, who wielded the baton in the two symphonic concerts of the festival, has been working since 1993, when he went to Bratislava and studied conducting. Several years later he met José Nieto and started in the world of film music, being the founder and conductor of the Bratislava Symphony Orchestra, a formation that has made a thousand recordings, about 80% of which are for audiovisual media.
It was an essentially technical round table, with topics such as the decision to record with or without an orchestra, the influence of the budget for each film, the type of music required for each production, etc., or personal tendencies and references to other composers from whom one learns.
“What is the difference between recording Mahler’s Fifth or a soundtrack?” was one of the questions that the moderator Francisco Cuadrado asked, and Hernando replied that classical music and film music are, in this sense, “completely different worlds. Cinema is a very specific element, we must know what the final result we want is. Classical music is recorded with little microphones, it is concert music, and cinema does not work like that. You record classical music with the whole orchestra together and in cinema it may not. Music is linked to the image, we must be clear about that, and we owe it to it in fundamental aspects such as the tempo of interpretation.”
The conductor also warned about the negative phenomenon of haste in the recording of film scores. “It is recorded on most occasions at first sight, film music is available to the musicians of the orchestra at the last moment in the face of the pressure and the pace of work that the composer has previously had within the process of the film industry.”
Manuel Riveiro, with compositional experience accumulated over more than two decades and author of soundtracks such as ‘La sombra de la ley’, nominated for a Goya in 2018, emphasized on the need to properly structure the recording process, “from knowing what budget you have to what kind of orchestra you need and build the music based on the sonority we want and in coordination with the director after the first proposals, with the greatest fidelity to what you intend so that the directors are convinced thanks to the current tools”.
Precisely the new technologies emerged in the debate before the methodology used to record in studio, showing to those present some images of the distribution of the orchestra, the proper arrangement of the microphones and discussed the orchestral sound, the difference between the mockup obtained with respect to the final recording, and factors such as tuning or the evolution of recordings at 442 Hz in Europe and 440 Hz in the USA, as well as the compatibility with the sounds of electronic instruments to achieve the best tuning and “orchestral brilliance”, taking into account that “orchestras are not tempered”, as Hernando stated. “It is necessary to think about the tonalities where symphonic music sounds good, as the great composers of other times thought, to compose film music,” the conductor said.
José Nieto. The self-taught maestro
The closing of the Fimucs training sessions was crowned by the master class given by José Nieto, the most prestigious Spanish composer, winner of six goyas and the National Film Award, among other distinctions, who has just published his second book, entitled “Music and narrative structure. Audiovisual narration from the point of view of music”.
Understanding Nieto’s presence as an extension of his recognized work as a university professor, the composer imbued his dissertation with a marked pedagogical character.
It didn’t take long for the maestro to take a position on the narrative value of film music, stating that “when I speak of narrative music, I am not referring to music that tells a story. Music does not tell anything because it is a language that is not a signifier. We are the ones who give it meaning. You apply music to a sequence that talks about hope, a music that contains certain codes, and then you qualify it as “the music of hope”, to say a feeling. And it is not like that”.
Maestro Nieto further elaborated on this concept with another example. “If someone listens to the famous storm of Beethoven’s sixth with Zeus directing his thunderbolts at the shepherds and you transfer it in your mind to a fight of giants throwing rocks at each other, to give an example, the music would work in the same way. That is, I am not talking about music that tells a story, but music that has a structure similar to that of a literary narrative and that produces in the listener the same sensations as when watching a film, or a play or even reading a novel, that is, tension, interest, surprise, etc. For me, that is the music that I consider narrative”.
He then went on to analyze the credits of ‘El caballero don Quijote’ by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón, offering the audience this content without music and later with the introductory theme music that he composed after making the director change the editing of the credits. “In this introduction, the image goes from the abstract to the concrete, the viewer is unaware that what he is seeing are close-ups of fragments of a helmet, of a sword… at the end you know what they are, the character is summarized between all the elements. It’s something that calls for a lot of music and, at the end, a musical opening. But the problem to do this and that the climax of the music could be at the end is that Gutiérrez Aragón placed the title of the film at the beginning of the credits. The solution was to tell the director to change the title at the end so as to end with the whole set and its hatching,” explained the speaker.
After several more examples of other productions, in this case television productions, such as ‘Cook’ or ‘Teresa de Jesús’, Nieto stated that the narrative rhythm of a film or any audiovisual production “is a semi-equivalence of its content split by time”, and warned about the differences between the concepts of narrative rhythm and visual rhythm, pointing out that in cinema “the narrative rhythm is the sum of the visual content and the sound content split by time, and that is where music comes in”.
José Nieto wanted to make it clear that “the spectator must perceive the music as part of a whole. Cinema must be a total work of art, the arts must be integrated and not only be present in that work”. His speech drew prolonged applause and with it ended the formative days of a festival that gave us four intense days.
Countdown and integration
The countdown for the third edition of Fimucs has already begun not only for the organizers, but also for those who understand that a film music festival with this philosophical pattern is an unmissable event for musicians and filmmakers.
It would be interesting to incorporate to the list of guests a greater number of film directors, as has been done in this edition with Bajo Ulloa, so that they can contribute their experiences with the composers at the time of working and, why not, some of them can also place themselves in the audience, learning to value the music proposed for their works.
It is also necessary that, after what seems to be a clear commitment of the organization for Seville as an essential appointment of Spanish film music, there is reciprocity on the part of the capital of Seville, supporting its celebration from public institutions and private organizations with contributions that allow greater media visibility of this festival, increasing the publicity and integration of its proposals in the city, expanding the scenarios where the activities are held, generating a climate of celebration in the heart of the capital and growing without complexes before the relevance of the event and also without the shadow or the comparative aggravation of other film events such as the European Film Festival.
Perhaps ‘more warmth’ is needed in view of the possibilities offered by the Teatro de la Maestranza or the Teatro Lope de Vega as venues for concerts or activities that can newly be added to the program, thus helping to integrate the city with the festival and vice versa. Surely many of these factors are already on the privileged minds of the festival’s organizers.
Article by José Carlos Fernández Moscoso – ‘Ultimo Estreno’
Pictures by José Carlos Fernández Moscoso, Rafael Melgar & Gorka Oteiza