The world is positively aflutter about The Hunger Games. I suppose there’s no way it couldn’t be, considering the ad campaign. But no matter how tapped in to the fiction you may be, it’s a safe bet you didn’t know about this little gem. It turns out one of the tracks in the film was composed by Laurie Spiegel, one of the earliest electronic musicians on the scene.
The song, called “Sediment,” was composed way back in the early ’70s, on ancient equipment.
“I didn’t have multitrack recording,” she said in a phone interview with Wired. “I had to do the mixing with two stereo reel-to-reel decks, and the only way to mix was to play something live, where one deck was playing audio while the other deck was recording the other machine…. You piled the tape hiss and noise for every generation you added.”
Not only is this cool and geeky because it comprises a tale about early abstract electronic (the geek’s genre of choice ever since Hackers), but hey – the composer is a lady. And a classy (maybe the right term is “groovy”) talented lady at that. Wired’s photo has her, proudly clad in bell-bottoms, posing in front of her massive musical kit.
Reading further into how she originally produced the track is a fascinating exercise in music theory, “garage” sound design/production, and geeky tech.
“’People who are in love with vintage analog now don’t understand what it was like to work with analog synths before computers, and before multitracks,” she said with a laugh. Multitrack recording existed in 1972, but it was still the province of studios and the very rich. While recording “Sediment” in her tenement apartment in Manhattan, Spiegel used a semi-modular Electrocomp 200. She recalled having to turn her refrigerator off to keep the analog synthesizer in tune.
Now that is dedication to the art.
While she doesn’t really follow Hollywood, she’s a big fan of The Hunger Games’ pro-fem implications:
“There are quite a few films and TV shows lately that actually have strong female protagonists, who aren’t just co-stars to a male hero,” Spiegel said. “We have yet to get to the point where we see a lot of female composers appearing in soundtrack credits, but maybe that will change.”
Let’s hope that it does.