Movie music should ideally act as an 'emotional constipator or cathartic" to enhance the creation and release of dramatic tension, John Green '28, former director of music for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM), last night told an audience of about 50 people.
"A film composer must live in comfort in a celluloid straight-jacket," Green said, explaining the challenge of writing music to accompany minute-long fragments of dramatic action without sounding choppy.
Green, who calls himself "a born showman," an "unconscionable show-off" and "charming," is visiting Harvard this week as part of the Learning From Performers series. Although he is best known for his work in musical film. Green spoke on the difficulties of writing music for dramatic film.
Green defended the "Hollywood Sound" he created by calling it "simply the incredible concentration of virtuoso musicians, orchestrators, composers and conductors at MGM." He demonstrated its variety with contrasting soundtrack excerpts.
The greatest challenge of his career was writing the musical score for "They Shoot Horses. Don't They?" the horror story of a dance marathon during the depression, Green said. He showed excerpts of the film throughout the evening to illustrate his remarks