Ciné-concert: “The General” by Buster Keaton with live music by Radiomentale

My saga with rich cultural experiences continues, with the latest being the Ciné-concert organized by the Alliances françaises in India for the 2013 edition of Fête de la musique.

What is a ciné-concert ? The concept harks back to the era of silent films when the screenings were accompanied by live music to set the back-drop for the story. The tradition was revived in France in 1976 by “Un drame musical instantané.” My first experience of this concept was in Pune at the NFAI, with the screening of Gant Guilio Antamarro’s Pinocchio with a live score by Antonio Zambrini trio.

Poster designed by Ess Designs

Organised by the Alliance Française de Bangalore as the opening event of the Fête de la musique extravaganza, the screening of the 1926 classic, The General by Buster Keaton was accompanied by live mixing by the electronic music, sound artists and DJ duo, Radiomentale.

The screening took place in the atrium of the business hotel, The Paul in Domlur Bangalore – a very interesting setting given the cozy ambiance of the hotel – on a rainy evening that probably kept some people away. A pity since the ciné-concert experience, enhanced by glasses of wine and hors d’oeuvres being served through the evening, was excellent.


An adventurous adventure-epic and comedy, The General narrates the story of a train engineer, who wants to join the Confederate Army but is rejected because of his value in his current position. What unfolds is a comic series of accidental heroic events, when he pursues the train “The General” to rescue his fiancée, which ends in him warning the Southern Frontier of the advancing Northern army and being rewarded for his bravery as a lieutenant in the army. The background score provided by Jean-Yves Leloup of Radiomentale completed the audio-visual experience, making it an evening to remember for a long time.

I leave you with two excerpts from previous shows by Radiomentale, to give you an idea of how the live music enhances the experience of watching a silent film :

(The scene in which the bridge collapses is acknowledged today as the most expensive stunt of the silent era.)

Other links of interest :
Music of the Silent Film – official article on AF Magazine, the online magazine of the Alliances françaises in India.
Fusing Sounds – an interview with Jean-Yves Leloup in the Hindu, Bangalore.

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