Music in

The Falls

 

In July 2008, my pal and Falls expert Eric Levy, wrote this piece about the music used in The Falls. Thanks Eric.

 

So I haven't watched THE FALLS in a single sitting in many years. What a pleasure it was to experience that again—especially on DVD. The detail and clarity of the images opens all sorts of new avenues into the film. It was also interesting to watch the film with the intention of paying specific attention to the music. Both factors contributed to my amazement at Greenaway’s vision. His attention to detail—in all of his work, but especially here—is unmatched in the cinema, even a perfectionist like Kubrick can’t compare.

 

Because the majority of the music is by Nyman I’m sending this to both the Greenaway and Nyman groups. Hopefully you’ll find this interesting. It’s gonna be long… (You're not the only one who likes lists Kyss!)

 

First a word on what exactly constitutes “music.” John Cage deconstructed the definition of music more than half a century ago. Cage was of course a hero to both Greenaway and Nyman, and Nyman documented all of Cage’s (and his followers’) contributions to that very deconstruction in his EXPIRIMENTAL MUSIC book. That raises the question of what exactly I should include as “music” in the film—especially a film about birds that features considerable use of bird song and bird calls on the soundtrack. Rather than bother with these subtleties, I have limited the discussion to music that was clearly and deliberately composed.

 

In the cases where the biography doesn’t extend past the image of the numeral and the name, and for Glastled Fallusson, which is barely any longer, I have written “No bio.” My warmest thanks to Wayne and Paul, without whose friendship and enthusiasm—not to mention invaluable websites—the following list would have been unthinkable.

 

I should also mention to folks who may be new to these lists that I was fortunate enough to be Greenaway’s driver for a few days in Chicago in November of 2004. During this time I grilled him about many subjects, but THE FALLS most of all. His answers were often enlightening, sometimes baffling, occasionally frustrating, once or twice dead wrong, but always helpful in some way. I make reference to those discussions in a few places below.

 

Much as I have tried to make this list completely thorough and definitive, there are a few pieces (including a handful by Nyman) that I am unfamiliar with. I mention each instance of my own unfamiliarity. Any help with these would be most appreciated.

 

So without further ado, here is my nearly-definitive list of music heard in Peter Greenaway’s THE FALLS:

 

OPENING

 

The music heard over the opening section of the film—shots of the Boulder Orchard behind the list of 92 victims and Colin Cantlie’s introduction—is accompanied by the closing two minutes of Michael Nyman’s piece M-WORK, the 19-plus minute side-long track from his eponymous second solo album (from 1982, two years after the premeire of the film). This is a—perhaps the—key work in Nyman’s catalog, and an essential adjunct to THE FALLS, as will be shown. (The album’s continued non-appearance on CD or for legal download is maddening—are you listening MN Records???) M-WORK is a shortened title for Nyman’s piece THE MASTERWORK/AWARD-WINNING FISHKNIFE. This particular music—like so much of the soundtrack music in THE FALLS—will be heard again.

 

Numbered titles

 

The music used for these consists of variations on a theme by Mozart composed by Michael Nyman. Each time the theme is heard over each title it is slightly longer than the previous time, culminating in the complete version over the final four titles. These last four complete themes can be heard on the album MINIATURES under the tile 89-90-91-92. The theme will be heard under separate cover again beginning with

 

Biography 1—Orchard Falla

 

The same theme that is used for each of the numbered titles is heard again in various biographies throughout THE FALLS, though in a much slower rendition. And we first hear it in the first biography—the only music heard during Orchard’s bio. It’s based on 15 seconds of music from Mozart’s SINFONIA CONCERTANTE FOR VIOLIN, VIOLA AND ORCHESTRA IN E FLAT MAJOR. The original section occurs from 4:33 to 4:48 in the second movement (on my recording anyway: DG 415 486-2). It’s a lovely little snippet of music and you can see how it appealed to Nyman and hear how he brilliantly refashioned it. This same movement would later be the basis for the entire soundtrack to DROWNING BY NUMBERS. It will henceforth be known as the Mozart theme in the present list.

 

Biography 2—Constance Ortuist Fallaburr

 

No Music.

 

Biography 3—Melorder Fallaburr

The opening track on Nyman’s self-titled album is called BIRD ANTHEM. The album version includes vocals and full orchestration. The lyrics are my sign-off: “Capercaillie Lammergeyer Cassowary” repeated several times. We will hear this theme in various forms throughout the film (and in full at the very end). It first appears here as an instrumental fragment, different sections of which are heard four times.

Biography 4—Appis (Arris) Fallabus

Appis’s biography features the first of four times we hear a mysterious and beautiful ambient music that I am unfamiliar with. The credits list additional music by Brian Eno, John Hyde, and Keith Pendlebury. I am thoroughly familiar with Eno’s work, and while this sounds somewhat similar to his style, if it is a piece by Eno, it’s an unreleased one. Pendlebury is a jazz pianist who will appear later in THE FALLS as Allia Fallanx (see below). So my bet is this music is by John Hyde, who also appears later in the film. The only other music by Hyde that I’ve heard are his contributions to the album LOVE CURIOSITY FRECKLES AND DOUBT by the Gadgets (which features one song co-written by Greenaway). Some of Hyde’s pieces on the album sound somewhat similar to the track heard in the film—similar enough that it could be the same composer anyway (and there’s further evidence that Hyde composed the piece—see below). I recall that Wayne—with Hyde’s help—figured out that Hyde’s music that was used in THE FALLS was once available on an LP. Any recollection about this Wayne?

Biography 5—Standard Fallaby

A solo piano version of the Mozart theme.

Biography 6—Tasida Fallaby

No music.

Biography 7—Lacer Fallacet

The Mozart theme.

Biography 8—Arris Fallacie

Greenaway told me that the film within the film in this biography (it will appear again later)—H.E. Carter’s THE LAST WAVE—is in fact footage from Greenaway’s own unreleased film EROSION. The music heard during the footage is a song called GOLDEN HOURS by Brian Eno from his 1975 masterpiece ANOTEHR GREEN WORLD (I can’t recommend this album highly enough—one of my all-time favorites). When I asked Greenaway if the Eno music heard in THE FALLS is the same as in the original EROSION, he said it was. In the 1979 interview with Nigel Andrews that begins the INTERVIEWS book, Greenaway refers to some of his early films as “landscape features set to music: from Bach to Brian Eno” (paraphrased, p. 5), which seems to support the idea that the footage seen in this biography is actually EROSION. But alas, things are never so simple. EROSION is always listed with the date 1971. The Eno song wasn’t released until 1975. My hunch is the date for EROSION is wrong, and the music is there in the original. And of course Peter Weir directed an overrated 1977 Australian film called THE LAST WAVE.

GOLDEN HOURS is actually a vocal song. The part heard in THE FALLS is from an instrumental break between verses. John Cale plays a lovely viola solo at the end of the song. Here are the lyrics (from http://music.hyperreal.org/artists/brian_eno/):

The passage of time is flicking dimly upon the screen;
I can't see the lines I used to think I could read between.
Perhaps my brains have turned to sand.

Oh me oh my, I think it's been an eternity.
You'd be surprised at my degree of uncertainty.
How can moments go so slow?

Several times I've seen the evening slide away.
Watching the signs taking over from the fading day.
Perhaps my brains are old and scrambled ...

Several times I've seen the evening slide away.
Watching the signs taking over from the fading day.
Changing water into wine...

Several times I've seen the evening slide away.
Watching the signs taking over from the fading day.
Putting grapes back on the vine...

[Sung simultaneously to last two verses]
Who could believe what a poor set of eyes can show you?
Who would believe what an innocent voice could do?
Never a silence, always a face at the door

Who would believe what a poor set of ears can tell you?
Who would believe what a weak pair of hands can do?
Never a silence, always a foot in the door.

Biography 9—Mashanter Fallack

No music.

Biography 10—Squaline Fallaize

No music.

Biography 11—Carlos Fallantly

During the shots of the turkey, an electric guitar is heard over an unknown ambient piece. Unlike most of the music in THE FALLS, this is the only time this track is heard in the entire film. Once again it is not a (released) composition by Brian Eno, so my guess is it’s also by John Hyde. Further evidence for this—if it is evidence—is, John Hyde’s wife Monica Hyde, who will appear again—this time with her husband—in Biography 81 (see below), plays the woman on the phone in this biography.

Biography 12—Musicus Fallantly

No soundtrack music, but Musicus Fallantly sings a song (in Welsh?).

Biography 13—Wrallis Fallanway

The Mozart theme is heard again.

Biography 14—Allia Fallanx

Allia Fallanx is seen playing piano during an instrumental jazz piece.

Biography 15—Starling Fallanx

Husband and wife jazz partners Allia and Starling Fallanx are the real-life husband and wife jazz partners Keith and Marcia Pendlebury. I’m very curious to know how Greenaway knew of them and got them to appear in his film. The couple continued to perform until Keith’s death in 2002. You can see more recent pictures and read more about them at Marcia’s website: http://www.marciapendleburyjazz.com/html/marcia_pendlebury.html

In Starling’s biography, she is singing the old standard THE LADY IS A TRAMP. The song has been recorded countless times, but first and most famously by Frank Sinatra. What’s most interesting about the version heard in THE FALLS is how Starling/Marcia/Greenaway alters the lyrics. It’s difficult to hear all of them, but there is a line about reading Shakespeare and, more significantly, one about swimming in Abersoch Bay—a location that will have further relevance in THE FALLS. These lyrics will be revisited—though not sung—in Biography 91 (see below).

Biography 16—Ipson & Pulat Fallari

Nyman’s short piece known as SECONDARY TREAT from his self-titled album is heard in three different fragments.

Biography 17—Stachia Fallari

Another ambient/experimental piece featuring electric guitar is heard no less than six separate times. It’s different from the piece heard in Biography 11, and like that one is not heard again in THE FALLS. Possibly another John Hyde piece.

Biography 18—Aptesia Fallarme

Greenaway’s early film WATER is shown during Aptesia’s biography—appropriate given the subject matter of her life. The music heard is definitely the music from WATER judging by the editing, and as confirmed by the film’s cameo in 26 BATHROOMS. We do not as yet know who the music is by. It is not Max Eastley as has been suggested in various Greenaway filmographies. Greenaway told me the piece was by John Hyde, but Wayne contacted Hyde who said it was not his music. If I ever talk to Greenaway again, I’ll try to get the true story out of him.

Biography 19—Corntopia Fallas

The instrumental section of Brian Eno’s GOLDEN HOURS is heard again. See Biography 8 above.

Biography 20—Anteo Fallaspy

Greenaway told me that the black and white film footage shown in Biographies 20, 22, and 23 is from his rare (unreleased?) 1967 film FIVE POSTCARDS FROM CAPITAL CITIES, and that the music heard in THE FALLS is from the original film. I have no idea what this music is. In Anteo’s biography a strange whispering is heard followed by mysterious experimental music reminiscent of some of Max Eastley’s work, then more whispering, and finally a few strange stray notes can be heard at the end.

Biography 21—Pandist Fallaspy

No bio.

Biography 22—Sashio Fallaspy

This biography opens with a snippet of the very beginning of a song called JUGBAND BLUES by Pink Floyd. It’s from their second album, 1968’s A SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS and was the last song by the group written and sung by founding member Syd Barrett (actually one final song VEGETABLE MAN was recorded though never officially released—you can find it on bootlegs though). After that some ‘50s style repetitive sci-fi type music is heard, then the instrumental section of Eno’s GOLDEN HOURS and finally the ending section of Nyman’s M-WORK—not heard since the opening of the film—is reprised.

As with GOLDEN HOURS in what we believe is EROSION, there is some confusion about the music here. Greenaway told me specifically that the Pink Floyd song was included in the original version of FIVE POSTCARDS (he was impressed that I recognized such a small fragment of the song), but that film is listed as being from 1967, and the song wasn’t released until 1968. If Greenaway would finally relent and release his early missing films, we could probably clear all of this up.

Syd Barrett is another one of my heroes. Here are the complete lyrics to JUGBAND BLUES (from http://www.pink-floyd-lyrics.com/):

It's awfully considerate of you to think of me here
And I'm much obliged to you for making it clear that I'm not here.
And I never knew the moon could be so big
And I never knew the moon could be so blue
And I'm grateful that you threw away my old shoes
And brought me here instead dressed in red
And I'm wondering who could be writing this song.

I don't care if the sun don't shine
And I don't care if nothing is mine
And I don't care if I'm nervous with you
I'll do my loving in the winter.

And the sea isn't green
And I love the Queen
And what exactly is a dream
And what exactly is a joke.

Biography 23—Vyanine Fallaspy

A jazzy opening is followed by some bombastic classical music, then a clarinet, then a piano, and finally a complete orchestra. If this is all a single piece of music it’s quite ambitious, if not exactly enjoyable. No idea what the music is.

Biography 24—Casternarm Fallast

Casternarm sings an a cappella rendition of THE BIRD LIST SONG, another song that woudl later appear on Nyman's self-titled album, and the first of many times we will hear it over the course of the film. Soon he is accompanied by staccato piano chords, then a single drumbeat, and finally horns in the background. This stripped-down version of BLS is heard each time we visit the Goldhawk Road.

Biography 25—Ardenaur Fallatter

The mysterious ambient music first heard in Biography 4 (see above) is heard again here, though it appears to be a different section of the same piece.

Biography 26—Agropio Fallaver

No bio.

Biography 27—Propine Fallax

Mozart’s original SINFONIA CONCERTANTE FOR VIOLIN, VIOLA AND ORCHESTRA IN E FLAT MAJOR, second movement is heard here in its entirety (or almost). This is the piece that Nyman adapted into the numbered title music and what I’m calling the Mozart theme. He would later expand parts of the whole movement into the complete score to DROWNING BY NUMBERS. So it’s appropriate that the original music accompanies Cissie Colpitts’s biography. The original Mozart piece is heard at the end of DROWNING BY NUMBERS too. The particular recording used in this biography is from a scratchy LP that Greenaway found in a suitcase (the original Tulse Luper Suitcase) that also contained several photographs and other ephemera that made their way into THE FALLS.

Biography 28—Cash Fallbaez

No music.

Biography 29—Antopody Fallbatts

No bio.

Biography 30—Coppice Fallbatteo

No music.

Biography 31—Agrendo Fallbazz

No bio.

Biography 32—Cisgatten Fallbazz

An unknown Michael Nyman piece.

Biography 33—Hasp Fallbazz

Eno’s GOLDEN HOURS is heard again over more footage presumably from Greenaway’s EROSION (see Biography 8 above). This image and this music are used in THE FALLS to illustrate dreams of water, category one: flight.

Biography 34—Canopy Fallbenning

No music.

Biography 35—Cole Fallbird

No bio.

Biography 36—Castel Fallboys

The mysterious ambient music that I think is by John Hyde, heard previously in Biographies 4 and 25 (see above), is heard again in three separate installments. More of it is heard this time.

Biography 37—Acataloope Fallbus

No bio.

Biography 38—Astraham Fallbute

The M-WORK music is heard again.

Biography 39—Loosely Fallbute

The Mozart theme on what sounds like a synthesizer is heard followed by M-WORK.

Biography 40—Betheda Fallbutus

The piano-percussion version of THE BIRD LIST SONG, as heard in Biography 24 (see above) is heard again with the difference that this time strings come in from time to time. It’s like the different tracks of the recording are being turned on and off. Once again this version accompanies images from the Goldhawk Road.

Biography 41—Cathine Fallbutus

The Mozart theme again.

Biography 42—Bwythan Fallbutus

The Goldhawk Road version of BLS is heard again with just piano.

Biography 43—Menenome Fallbutus

No bio.

Biography 44—Olivine Fallbutus

The unknown Nyman piece heard in Biography 32 (see above) is heard again.

Biography 45—Vacete Fallbutus

Once again the Goldhawk Road version of BLS is heard, this time with piano and a single (treated) horn.

Biography 46—Astra Fallcas

“The high-pitched female voice” of THE BIRD LIST SONG is heard three times singing three separate sections of the song a cappella here.

Biography 47—David Fallcash

No bio.

Biography 48—Bewick Fallcaster

No music.

Biography 49—Catch-Hanger Fallcaster

No music.

Biography 50—Clasper Fallcaster

No music.

Biography 51—Felix Fallcaster

No music.

Biography 52—Max Fallcaster

No music.

Biography 53—Orian Fallcaster

No music.

Biography 54—Throper Fallcaster

No music.

Biography 55—Raskado Fallcastle

Another unknown Michael Nyman piece, different from the one heard in Biographies 32 and 44. It’s similar to parts of M-WORK and A WALK THROUGH H, but it’s a different piece.

Biography 56—Appropinquo Fallcatti

A solo violin version of BIRD ANTHEM, heard for the only time in THE FALLS.

Biography 57—Agrimany Fallchester

No music.

Biography 58—Sitiarch Fallding

No bio.

Biography 59—Ostler Falleaver

No music.

Biography 60—Edio Fallenby

Unknown marching band music.

Biography 61—Shey Fallenby

Nyman’s piece INITIAL TREAT from his self-titled album is heard during Shey’s biography. This piece was also released under the title WEBERN as a single by Nyman, and again with the title FIVE ORCHESTRAL PIECES FOR OPUS TREE on the album FROM THE KITCHEN ARCHIVES—NEW YORK NEW MUSIC 1979 on Philip Glass’s Orange Mountain Music label (discussed on these groups recently). This is also the piece that Corntopia Felixchange commissioned Nye Gallibo to compose as a tribute to her late husband (see Biography 83 below).

Biography 62—Affinado Falleur

The Mozart theme.

Biography 63—Erek Fallfree

No bio.

Biography 64—Thomax Fallfresh

Another instrumental version of THE BIRD LIST SONG. It’s different from the Goldhawk Road version. It starts with just strings, and features some really cool percussion that’s unique to this version. And is that a banjo that comes in toward the end?

Biography 65—Zachia Fallgillot

No bio.

Biography 66—Joyan Fallicory

No bio.

Biography 67—Bird Gaspara Fallicutt

During the film “TRAILING AWAY,” Brian Eno’s song IN DARK TREES is heard. This is an instrumental song that, like GOLDEN HOURS, is from his 1975 masterpiece ANOTHER GREEN WORLD. Significantly the footage shown is of a swimming pool, so it’s more Eno music used to accompany water in some way—and of course the image foreshadows MAKING A SPLASH.

Biography 68—Obsian Fallicutt

BIRD ANTHEM is heard twice in this biography: first in a brief a cappella rendition, then a sped up version over sped up footage of A WALK THROUGH H.

Biography 69—Wrallis Fallinway

No bio.

Biography 70—Ashile Fallko

No music.

Biography 71—Agostina Fallmutt

No music.

Biography 72—Castan Fallockery

No bio.

Biography 73—Cottes Fallope

No bio.

Biography 74—Pollie Fallory

The definitive BIRD LIST SONG as sung by Pollie Fallory, who is of course played by then-Nyman Band singer Lucy Skeaping. She sings it on the MICHAEL NYMAN album too, though that version is different than the one heard here. The electric guitar that comes in at the end of the album version (which I love) is missing here, and there are some slight variations in the libretto, including her singing “Capercaillie Cassowary Lammergeyer” one of the times near the end.

Biography 75—Afracious Fallows

Yet another unknown Nyman piece—different from the one already heard (see Biographies 32, 44, and 55 above). It’s very similar to the final section of A WALK THROUGH H, but is different.

Biography 76—Hearty Fallparco

No music.

Biography 77—Sallis Pino Fallpinio

And still one more unknown Nyman piece.

Biography 78—Crasstranger Fallqueue

The a cappella BIRD ANTHEM heard briefly in Biography 68 (see above) is heard again more fully here. As in Biography 68, the music accompanies historical images of humans attempting flight.

Biography 79—Romanese Fallracce

An a cappella soprano is heard singing an unknown song.

Biography 80—Ascrib Fallstaff

No bio.

Biography 81—Armeror Fallstag

The mysterious ambient music previously heard in Biographies 4, 25, and 36 (see above) is heard for the last time. John Hyde plays Armeror Fallstag, confirming to my mind his composer status of this piece. And there is no album called ABIGAIL AND THE EARLY BIRD.

Biography 82—Combayne Fallstoward

No music.

Biography 83—Geoffrey Fallthuis

Anton Webern’s FIVE PIECES FOR ORCHESTRA is heard during the film footage, which is from Greenaway’s early film TREE. I thought that the shots of the train with the sun behind it were from his early film TRAIN, but now I’m not so sure. All of the music is from the Webern piece. Since the images are cut so perfectly to the music, it implies to me that it’s all the same film. Webern was of course the first victim of a conspiracy against composers that likely continues to this day. Both Geoffrey Fallthuis and Corntopia Felixchange would soon fall victim to the same conspiracy.

Webern did two pieces called FIVE PIECES FOR ORCHESTRA. One is Op. 10 and the other is listed as "Op. Post." Op. 10 is the one heard here and is the basis for Nyman’s piece heard in Biography 61 (see above).

Biography 84—Merriem Falltrick

No bio.

Biography 85—Stephany Falltrix

The synthesizer version of the Mozart theme heard in Biography 39 (see above) is heard again here.

Biography 86—Tolley Falluger

M-WORK.

Biography 87—Vassian Falluger

M-WORK.

Biography 88—Erhaus Bewler Falluper

No music.

Biography 89—Grastled Fallusson

No bio.

Biography 90—Castral Fallvernon

The piano and horn instrumental version of BLS heard in Biography 45 (see above) is heard here—the only time it’s divorced from images of the Goldhawk Road.

Biography 91—Leasting Fallvo

No music, but Leasting does recite the lyrics to THE LADY IS A TRAMP that Starling Fallanx sings in Biography 15 (see above). He also recites the libretto of THE BIRD LIST SONG. It should be pointed out that all of the vocal versions of BLS that we hear in THE FALLS, including this one, as well as version on Nyman’s self-titled album, have slight variations in the lyrics. Our own Paul Melia has compiled the definitive list detailing all of the variations here: http://www.btinternet.com/~paul.melia/birdL1.html

Biography 92—Anthior Fallwaste

No music until the very end when the opening strains of BIRD ANTHEM are heard. The vocals kick in over

 

Credits

 

The complete vocal version of BIRD ANTHEM is finally heard now, followed at the very end by the Mozart theme one last time.

  

 

And that is the end of the Music in The Falls list. The next song in the directory is Queen of the Night.

 

Capercaillie Lammergeyer Cassowary,

Eric

 

The Falls 

Home