Oscar-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun delivers a speech at the Film Music Forum during the 2nd Beijing International Film Festival on Friday, April 27, 2012. [Photo: CRIENGLISH.com/Sun Yang]
Tan Dun, along with other leading film score composers, engineers and directors from both China and abroad attended the Film Music Forum at the second Beijing International Film Festival. The forum, which was the final event of the festival, was held at the Central Conservatory of Music and was titled "exploring the beauty of music in film."
Discussing his work at the forum, Tan said: "After I did Ang Lee's 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon', Yo-Yo Ma suggested to me that I could do a wuxia film music trilogy for cello, violin, and piano." "I think it's great idea."
Wuxia refers to a Chinese film genre featuring the mythical adventures of ancient Kung Fu masters.
Tan explained that for "Crouching Tiger", he principally used a cello, and subsequently waited years for another director, who happened to be the one and only Zhang Yimou, who would allow him to score a film using the violin as the principal instrument. The pair collaborated on the film "Hero."
Tan's very personal motivation meant that after "Hero", he once again waited several years before working on his next project, which involved him providing the score for Feng Xiaogang's film "The Banquet" by using the piano.
But Tan revealed that he was inspired by Richard Wagner and wanted to do a four-part opera-style film score.
He had also decided that as his first three films were centered on the theme of dying and sacrificing oneself out of love and patriotism. As a result, Tan decided that the theme for the fourth part should be "resurrection." However, to date, no director has approached him with the intention of making such a film.
Tan also revealed that in composing film scores, he adhered to the classic Daoist principles of "Book of Changes" and "Daodejing" by Laozi, and he called on other artists to add a greater philosophical element to their works.
American composer Richard Bellis, two-time Emmy winner Hummie Mann, famed Chinese composers Prof. Ye Xiaogang and Prof. Wang Liguang, sound engineer Tao Jing and South Korean director Jae-young Kwak also attended the Film Music Forum. The artists shared their views and experience on various topics and lectured VIP guests and students on a range of subjects, including how to integrate music with pictures and how music is the soul of a film.
Richard Bellis and Hummie Mann even showed clips to demonstrate how emotions differ when different background music is used for the same film scene.
Beijing's vice mayor Lu Wei said in his opening speech that in recent years films have weakened the role of music. Some film directors even hired composers during the latter stages of film production, resulting in a rush, sub-par score which lacks the emotional depth to truly touch an audience.
"A great film must have great music," Lu said. "When you hear the music, you get the film's images and your impression of the film's scenes at the same time, which should identical."
Tao Jing, China's leading sound engineer, who supervised award-winning blockbusters such as "Farewell, My Concubine", "Hero" and most recently "The Flowers of War", agreed that, currently, film scores are not taken particularly seriously. He also proposed a method for tackling the problem. Don't give so much money to movie stars, give more money to composers," he said. "Let music breathe, let it be sincere."
Prof. Wang Liguang, who composed scores for "Aftershock" and "A World without Thieves," also lamented the phenomenon. "No one will go to the cinema for film scores, they go for movie stars and big name directors, he said."Only when they walk out of the theater do they realize that even the most wonderful scene is incomplete without music."
Wang added that the organizers should invite more directors and producers to the forum. "Filmmaking is an integrated art form associated with other industries and businesses," he said. "Because music cannot directly bring box office revenue, many producers and directors don't pay enough attention to it. I want them to realize that music is a very important part [of filmmaking]."
Prof. Ye concurred with Wang's summary. "Music is the ultimate language," he said. "It can convey emotion when sound effects and language cannot."
The weeklong Beijing International Film Festival will close Saturday night with a concert featuring memorable classic film music.
The British Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, New Zealand diva Hayley Dee Westenra, Chinese tenors Wang Hongwei and Ding Yi will unite to perform a string of classic film music including "Lord of the Rings," "Mission Impossible," "Harry Potter" and "Star Wars" themes as well as Chinese classics "Hero," "Assembly."