San Francisco Symphony to perform "Ghostbusters" score live alongside the film

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Not that I don’t like Ghostbusters, or live scoring (seen lots), or the San Francisco Symphony, or the San Francisco Symphony doing live scores (been to at least two). But I’m not sure I consider that a good use of their talents. Or $65.

I wonder if Salonen had to sign off on this…

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I’ve been to a couple of these sorts of things here in Minneapolis. There is always some audio content that’s played back via the PA. The spatial separation between the orchestra on the platform and the pa usually fairly high above results in an experience of two distinct audio sources. It doesn’t work that well.

Of course I’m an audio engineer so my brain is trained to pay attention to these sort of things. Maybe Joe general public doesn’t notice?


I went to a Ghostbusters live show with the Chicago Symphony last summer at Ravinia Festival. That’s an outdoor venue north of the city where, for very little cost for lawn seating, one can pack a picnic dinner and libations and listen to great music. It’s very family friendly. In fact, that night we went with my son’s family including his 4 and 5 year olds. Besides the main event, they also had a 25 foot tall Sta Puft marshmallow man and two replica Ecto One cars. My grandson loved it.


The San Antonio Symphony also does this each season.

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Good point: everything I’ve ever seen had been a silent movie or a movie where all the audio was score (i.e. the Qaatsi trilogy).

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A few years ago our son and his wife gave us tickets to the Minnesota Orchestra performance of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. It was a fun evening, and displayed a different set of talents from the orchestra. It wasn’t the same experience you get at a concert or at a movie theater, so if you’re willing to pay to see something else, you probably will enjoy it.

I think the movie makes a difference. A lot of the audience we saw were quite obviously rabid Harry Potter fans (costumes, lifestyles, LARPers, etc), and they clearly loved every minute. I don’t know that Ghostbusters (or Jurassic Park, another film that’s received this treatment) has quite the same sort of fan following; so the crowd reactions may not be as intense.

One other very visible difference between an ordinary orchestral performance and this was the age of the crowd. The movie tie-ins really appeal to a younger audience, and I think that’s an overall good thing.


I got y’all beat.
Dario Argento’s Deep Red with Goblin playing the score live.
I was in cult cinema nerd heaven.

Not sure I wanna see Ghostbusters again but some of the other films on the site look fun.

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I’ve seen one locally, and have tickets for a few more (because star wars is on the list in March). They did the first one after a sound system and projector upgrade, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It was fun, but I realized most of the way through the first half that I wasn’t really paying attention to the music. It sync’d up well enough that I sort of forgot the symphony was there.
I’m definitely Joe general public on the audio portion of this, but maybe also the venue? Would some setup differences matter?

I’ve seen a couple - The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall (big space) and The Tripplets of Belville at the U of MN Northrop Auditorium (also big but less so).

In my experience the blend thing comes down to PA placement. At the Minneapolis Orchestra Hall the PA is high above the stage because the hall is a very large space constructed expressely for acoustic orchestral music. The parts of the score that came from the PA were obviously coming from somewhere other than the music from the orchestra. The vocals understandably were located high in the room as a result as well, not coming from the screen like in a good theater. That’s less of an issue though. It’s the pre-recorded musical parts not performed by the orchestra that are the most jarring to my ear.

It’s a similar effect to small musical venues where guitars or drums on stage are loud enough that you’re hearing them from the PA (either through direct micing of the instrument or bleed to vocal mics) as well as hearing them from the actual source (acoustic drums, loud guitar amps etc). That situation is actually sonicly worse though because the same signal from two places is confusing to the brain. If the signals are similar enough you can get comb filtering which is the result from the same signal out of time with itself canceling itself out and certain frequency bands. The visualized signal actually looks like a comb hence the name.

At the end of the day though, if you go, have fun, and feel it was worth the money then huzzah!


I’m going to see the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra in January do the 2001 film…
Looking forward to hearing all the Ligetti stuff in person.

I’ve seen them do “There will be blood” with the Jonny Greenwood score. Their timing was amazing. They used an Ondes Martenot which was a bit of a treat for all the electronic music nerds in the audience.

Ghostbusters had enough rabid fans to sink the female cast rewrite, but those guys don’t give a rip about the orchestral experience. They’ll go to a movie and spend the other fifty bucks on weed.

SF Symphony has been wanting to do this crowd pleasing stuff for years but it never happened under Michael Tilson Thomas. Hmmm.

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