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New Live Music and Film Experiences @ The Barbican

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by Bastion Harrison (subscribe)
Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from
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See & Hear Classic Films in a New Way
charlie chaplin, barbican centre, new live music and film experiences
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'Sound is almost a drug. It's so pure that when it goes in your ears, it instantly does something to you.' - David Lynch

Filmmaker, David Lynch is on to something here. What exactly sound does, he does not elaborate on, and I think that is because it affects people in different ways. Sound evokes feelings in us all, whether it be fear, joy, melancholy, anticipation, or a sense of calm.

When it comes to film, sound is a vital element. You don't always notice it, but press mute, and you definitely know it's missing. Just think what Alfred Hitchcock's famous shower seen in Psycho would be like without that heart-pounding music. The music is probably more iconic than the visual image itself.

But before 1927, films were silent. Not only was there no background score, but all the dialogue was written on screen. So just how did filmmakers set a mood? They brought in a live performer. As the film played, a pianist would usually be at the ready to point out all those important moments through a variation of soft and sharp notes.

The Barbican Centre want to relive those days, and so have created a series of New Live Music and Film Experiences. Watch Alfred Hitchcock's earlier thriller, The Lodger (1926), which is to be accompanied by the musicians and composers from the Guildhall School's Electronic Music Studios. You'll also get to hear the Sound of Charlie Chaplin, which will screen numerous films, including his feature length Shoulder Arms, thought to be 'one of the great World War One movies.

It isn't just old films that are being shown; In Dreams looks at how sound was such a vital part of David Lynch's films, and will have live performances of original songs by Roy Orbison, David Bowie, Chris Isaak, Samuel Barber, Marilyn Manson, and Elvis Presley.

Other films include Beasts of the Southern Wild Live, work by the Quay Brothers, Virginia Heath's poetic documentary From Scotland with Love, and a soundscape of nature in Music of the Wild.

The series runs from the 30th May - 30th November, and tickets are 10-35.
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Why? Rediscover the classics
When: 30th May - 30th Nov
Phone: 020 7638 8891
Where: Barbican Centre
Cost: 10-35
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