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An Interview with Pierluigi Pietroniro, Soundtrack Composer of The Hounds

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2013

Films scored by Pierluigi Pietroniro on (re)Search my Trash

 

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You have composed the music for the upcoming movie The Hounds - so how would you describe your musical score?

 

The Hounds it's my first experience as composer of soundtrack music, but it's also a great personal achievement after 30 years as session man for the best Italian composers like Morricone, Piovani (the solo-violin on the Academy Award winner in 1998 Life is Beautiful - it's me), Bacalov, Ortolani,etc.

 

I was very excited to get this chance, and after viewing the movie I've started to record the first musical ideas. The problem was that the directors (Maurizio and Roberto Del Piccolo) live in Milano and me in Rome, so we only talked on the phone, and to understand their intentions about the "soul" of the movie I had to wait for them to be in Rome. One thing was clear to me: in The Hounds there were several levels of interpretation, and I wanted to go deeper, to the psychology of the characters. The "fear factor" was not my goal, there was enough of that on the screen: I have always asked myself "What does the character feel in this situation?" - and I tried to give answers to my questions through my music.

 

How did you get involved in the project in the first place, and what can you tell us about your collaboration with the directors Roberto and Maurizio Del Piccolo [Roberto Del Piccolo interview - click here]?

 

This story is very nice: An italian movies producer, to whom I gave my approval for another project, in november 2010, phoned me and asked if I was free to compose a soundtrack for the "debut" of two young directors, even without a remuneration, because it was a low-low-low budget movie. I thought, "Ok, it's my general rehearsal for the major project; let's do it!"

 

It had been a long time that I was looking for my first experience with soundtrack for cinema. I finally found my chance; finally I can say to M°Morricone "I'm working on my own soundtrack", finally the time has arrived.

Would I be able to write music for an horror movie? Would I be able to create the appropriate musical tension? Would I be able to give the musical emotions that the movie, the actors and directors needed?

At beginning Roberto said to me that the first problem was to find the music for the cauterization scene; I watched the scene and I identified with the character of Dave, and than I asked to me: "Which is the music that I felt if I was in his place?" - the answer was the sound of inner dialogue, the sound of doubt, of query, of misgiving.

So, I wrote a music for solo cello and strings (stopped on hig notes): the cello plays almost resembling Dave's answer, almost helping him to do what he has to do. That's all.

I sent the audio demo to Roberto and I waited. The day after he wrote me an email that read "I feel like I had said to Leonardo Da Vinci: Come to paint my home's walls" - related to my emotional participation in that scene. It was the first answer, and what kind of answer!!!! Sure, it was a very "melodramatic" phrase (in a very Italian style ...), but for me it meant to have the approval and the confidence of the director; what else?

The rest is on the screen, and the music has been acclaimend by the critics.

 

Note: The producer who proposed me to write the music didn't like my work, while we are here talking about it; I haven't heard more from him, but his movie hasn't started yet ...

 

How do you approach scoring a film like The Hounds - and since it's a horror film, is that a genre you can at all identify with, both as a viewer and a composer?

 

Wow... might be a question that has a lot to do with philosophy...

In The Hounds I've found that after a "soft" start, you need to stay on the screen until the end because you need to understand "who? what? where? when? why?"

 

The approach for me is always the same, both for stage drama and for movies:

First I need to have an emotion; I have to find something that gives me a feeling that I know, that I tried it "on my skin", then I can start to scoring from there.

Second I have to be captured, passionate, laugh or cry, I need to feel that there are common feelings, in short, something like falling in love... I think that a horror music should not be "scary", but must suggest the tension created in us when we do not understand something that is endangering our safety, a music that puts on alert all the body through the ears and, why not?, also the chair ... 

 

Honestly my horror expertise is rather poor: Not too many titles are in my "greatest hits", but Psycho, Friday the 13th, The Shining and Altered States have certainly sparked my fears; it's nnot splatter that creates tension in me, but it's the wisdom in knowing how to keep the tension that catches me. As a user I cannot distinguish between being a viewer or a composer: When I enter a cinema it's not like when a surgeon enters the operating room, I just sit down and I ask the movie's director "let me dream"... then of course the music of the shower scene of Psycho is the ringtone on my mobile phone!

 

What can you tell us about the actual recording of the musical score?

 

Basically in Italy the mood has changed, but first it's the cinema that has changed; and this change is due in part to the mood and in part to the economic problems which art must fight in my country. Nobody (and I underline NOBODY) wanted to put art as national achievement in the heads of the world, all the people come to Italy and return home disappointed: Iit was better-looking on a post-card or on the internet... All this is to say that (for example) it's impossible to compose a score in "Morricone's style" because there isn't a movie in a "Tornatore's style" - no money? A minimal movie; a minimal movie? Minimal music, where minimal means little, poor, impressionist... a string orchestra and 7/8 winds? You can record a digital piano and a violin, after you can choose an accordion (midi) or winds (midi) or strings (midi); at present the italian major productions go in Bulgaria or the Czech Republic to record orchestras to save 2/3 of costs, when our fees are the same as twenty years ago, thanks to commercial competition of the European Community that has protected only the producers and not the workers.

 

Both considering The Hounds in particular and movies in general - what do you draw inspiration from when composing film scores, and how important is the actual movie at hand for the outcome as opposed to personal experiences and the like?

 

Without thinking, I think I already answered this question in the answer number 3; I can only add that, The Hounds being my first opportunity, I had already referred to my many theatrical experiences, but more than that I had a 30 year long apprenticeship (it started recording the score for Once Upon a Time in America in 1983), during which I had the opportunity to learn in studio what to write and what to change in function of the image; but practice is the best training, so: call me!!

 

Would you like to talk about some of the films you have scored besides The Hounds?

 

The Hounds was my first work, but after some time RAI TRADE, the national tv broadcast editions label, released my CD called Storie (Stories, Tales) which contains ten years of my drama musics; in October 2011, some time after the end of the Festival del Cinema di Venezia, I learned that some tracks of my CD are in an Italian movie called Il Mundial Dimenticato (The Forgotten Mundial) which was at festival; the movie was out of competition but the critics loved it, and later it gained many prizes around the world.

The fact is that I'm very proud to participate in this movie (in spite of me) simply because it's a mockcumentary that tells the story of the Football World Cup 1942 that was never realized due to the Second World War, but that was (perhaps) played in the Argentine Patagonia; the music is very rhythmic comment for a documentary, but after about half the running time it starts to get all of the feelings of the characters and their plots - then comes my music: what got me excited is that they chose my songs to emphasize the feelings, in some moments of the script when the mockumentary becomes "cinema"... what else?

 

How did you become a musician and composer to begin with, and what can you tell us about your (formal) training on the subject?

 

I never studied composition, but during my training at the Conservatory "S.Cecilia" of Rome I studied harmony, and as player I always asked myself "Where am I playing? In what place is the music that I'm playing?" So, I've been always attracted to harmony, and playing in orchestras for several years and studying my scores I learned the "counterpoint" from Monteverdi to Cage. But I fell in love with soundtrack music, during the last 30 years as session man, and before I started scoring I was arranging great soundtracks for my Movies String Quintet (www.myspace.com/moviesstringquintet).

When in September 1999 my big friend Eugenio Allegri (actor and director for theatre) asked me to score the music for a show in the historical jewel Teatro Olimpico di Vicenza (near Venezia), built in 1583 by A.Palladio, I could not renounce, and I wrote my first notes. The song called La Commedia (The Comedy) that was the "ouverture" of that show, last summer became the theme song of a TV show for RAI 3.

 

I'm sure that apart from filmscores, you have also written some standalone pieces. So how does composing those compare to scoring movies, and what do you find more inspiring/challenging, and why?

 

I am very honored that you ask me questions as a composer, but I'd like to point out that I have never graduated in composition (just in violin) - I'm only someone who writes music.

About your question: I like to create soundtracks, my passion is to translate music to another artistic language: I need a video, a series of photos, a story, etc. to vent my emotions arising from that input. Every time I listen to a song written by me I am surprised that it came out of me and, at the same time, I still feel the same emotion that generated those notes.

Only one score I've created without an artistic input: it was an orchestral score called A Ennio Morricone played in a concert on the occasion of the eightieth birthday of the Maestro - http://youtu.be/DtTLRS5kWx0. It was my present to him, but it was really hard to compose music that tells a person of such importance, who does this and is at the top.

It was a big night, full of composers who had written for him and I was just his concertino playing during the concert (not my score, I want to listen my work); He was very happy about that surprise and the day after I was received at his house to personally deliver the score. Some time late, after he listened the demo of my CD Storie, he wrote me a beautiful letter that I consider my Composition Diploma and that I put in the CD itself as a presentation.

 

Related to that, what got you into composing for movies?

 

To score for movies is something like "The Creation": You know that in a moment, in the theatre, your notes will enter in the ears and you must decide what kind of emotion the public will receive.

A long time ago, viewing a documentary, I've reflected on a scene: how important is the music if in this scene where a leopard chases a gazelle if I either underline the joy of the leopard to have his lunch or the anguish of the gazelle trying to save himself?

The possibility that I have to give my "sound feeling" is what I call "creation" - very often it's the music that influences that particular moment in the film. Something else?...

 

Any future projects (both movie-related and standalone) you'd like to talk about?

 

Actually I'm scoring to a stage show and I'm waiting for an answer on an Italian movie, I just finished to make music for a pilot episode of a TV drama and I'm waiting for the next Del Piccolo/Moviedel masterpiece!!!

 

How would you describe yourself as a composer and musician, and how would you describe your music?

 

I would describe me as an artist, I can't play without thinking about the "vertical" of music: what is there with me, around me, when I'm playing; and I can't score without thinking how the notes sound when played, how the player feels my notes.

My music? Oh, I can't describe it, others must answer that; I just ask myself one thing before go to sleep: "Are you at peace with your work?" and the answer must always be positive.

 

Composers and musicians who inspire you?

 

Anyone who has written beautiful music, 'cause for me there is only good or bad music, no styles or genres or countries.

 

Some of your favourite filmscores (other than your own of course)?

 

Feeling lucky ?
Want to
search
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?

The links below
will take you
just there!!!

Find Pierluigi Pietroniro
at the amazons ...

USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

Looking for imports ?
Find Pierluigi Pietroniro here ...

Thailand  eThaiCD.com
Your shop for all things Thai

Something naughty ?
(Must be over 18 to go there !)

x-rated  find Pierluigi Pietroniro at adultvideouniverse.com

All Morricone's music, but also J.Williams, N.Rota, B.Herrmann, R.Ortolani, H.Mancini, H.Zimmer, F.Lai, J.Goldsmith, D.Shostakovic, M.Nyman, Lloyd Webber, etc.

At same time I cannot stop being moved when listening N.Piovani's Life is Beautiful or L.Bacalov's The Postman ... when the simplicity wins ...

 

Can you think of any filmscores you really disliked, you thought were utterly out of place - and why?

 

No I don't remember movies like this, but I just don't like the musical "trends", and when somebody tries to lift soundtracks from classical repertoire.

 

Your website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

www.myspace.com/pierluigipietroniro + FB

www.myspace.com/moviesstringquintet + FB

 

Anything else you are dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

"Would you like to come to work in USA?" - Oh yeah, I've my luggage ready!!!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD

 

 

Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...

 

Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!

 

Bauliche Angelegenheiten
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Michael Haberfelner

 

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