Live mission: Tete-a-tete with French music arranger Laurent Koppitz

  • Ruchika Kher, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Oct 19, 2014 19:36 IST

For decades, orchestral recordings enjoyed a place of pride in film music - both Bollywood and Hollywood.

The tracks of Hindi movies like Mother India (1957) and Mughal-e-Azam (1960), and Hollywood hits like Casablanca (1942), and the Star Trek series, among scores of others, are still highly regarded. But the '80s saw exponential growth in new technology, and as a result, film sounds started altering.

With synthesised sound taking over, musicians- who were part of live orchestras in films- were gradually shown the door.

"However, the trend seems to be reviving, with both Hollywood and Bollywood films increasingly opting for live sounds for their projects now," says Laurent Koppitz of Fame's Project, a one stop for orchestral recordings in Skopje, Macedonia.

He conducted a session titled, Recording With An Orchestra, at the Mumbai Film Festival (MFF) on October 17.

"It is mesmerising to hear an orchestra play. Several musicians coming together to make music always creates magic. Electronic music just can't match that. While synthesisers were the primary reason behind the edging out of orchestral music in films, I'm happy that a u-turn is on the horizon," says Koppitz.

The Internet, according to the music arranger, is another reason that facilitated the return of these recordings to a very large extent- apart from the demand for grander sound for films.

"Today, there is a possibility of getting some of the best orchestra players, without them even travelling to your city. So, for example, an orchestra can record for India in the morning and for Mexico in the afternoon, and then the recording can be shared," he explains.

Conducting at least 180 recordings a year for film projects around the world, Koppitz's studio has recorded some parts of the soundtrack of films like Dhoom:3 (2013) and Gunday.

"Our maximum business comes from Hollywood. Next, we are excited about working for a Chinese film," he informs, adding that while, on an average 40 to 80 musicians are employed, they have also conducted 150-strong musician orchestras for recordings.

But is it challenging to understand the sensibilities of films from different cultures for diverse recordings? The French orchestrator, who launched his studio in 2008, reveals that since music has one language, reading the notes is never a task.

"Every country has a different culture, but ultimately, it is the composer who has to tell us what he has in mind, and we just read and adapt to the sensibilities of the composer," he shares.

However, while things are looking up for film orchestral recordings, there is still a long way to go for them to match up to the popularity of electronic music, opines Koppitz.

"Projects are coming in and there is a growing interest, but there is still a struggle to create a space in the world of synthesisers and fake instruments. I feel a real musician will always add a little more to the soundtrack of a film. Now, it's just for more people to understand this," he says.

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