Going for a new (documented) world's record...

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Michael Mortilla

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Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostWed Dec 30, 2015 12:28 pm

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/guinness-world-record-piano-improvisation-for-film/x/13116938#/

Very recently LACMA (the LA County Museum of Art) invited me to play for nine hours as essentially an exhibit, accompanying four silent films, with one being repeated - for a total of five. It occurred to me that this may have never been done before, and certainly never been documented for a world's record.

The above link is to an Indiegogo campaign to raise the funds to fast track the Guinness application which would otherwise take 12 weeks and not allow verification of the event. Fast tracking would take 3 days to approve.

I'd certainly be interested to hear from other musicians who have played for more than 9 hours, and in particular, any who have improvised scores for silent films, back to back, for that length of time.
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Rodney

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostWed Dec 30, 2015 11:26 pm

I've improvised long, but nowhere near that long! I'm afraid that after about an hour and a half I start to burn out and can't imagine that I'm worth listening to.

I expect that if it has been done before, it was done in cheap nickelodeons in America by unknown, unappreciated, and underpaid women working for hard-ass stingy bosses. Some of those theaters ran from morning until late at night, and it's easy to exploit workers who don't have the confidence to stand up for themselves. But, as you say, if it did happen, it would have been completely undocumented.

Good luck on the run! Check to see how many breaks they allow, and take them...
Rodney Sauer
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"Let the Music do the Talking!"
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Michael Mortilla

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostWed Dec 30, 2015 11:48 pm

I agree with you Rodney, and Clark Wilson has said as much to me. In early cinema, those players may well have put in 12 hour days, and I assume they had some breaks between audiences or films. I assume many were improvising and certainly more than one aspiring composer got into the act.

I doubt the Guinness people would allow any breaks, as the current world record of playing the piano (pieces, not improvisation) is 103 hours. Compared to that, my claim is negligible from a stamina standpoint.

I suppose I am also trying to document an extended improvisation session as well as an "accompaniment" record but again, with the performance record at 103 hours, they could easily reject my claim. If they do, I'll be taking my bathroom breaks between films, for sure (about 10-12 minutes each). That's easily doable and harder on the back than it is on the bladder, hands, and arms (for me at any rate).

In any event, it'll be an interesting day and it'll be a trip playing in the middle of a very cool exhibit at LACMA. Pretty surreal, really, and somewhat reminiscent of my days playing fashion shows in shopping malls for mimes in white face. I was also in white face, playing for them to act out little story lines to sell clothes from the shops at the mall. Not exactly the same thing, but not that far off, either. Funny!

There's going to be a fair amount of press coming out in a few major outlets just before it happens. That can't be too bad for business. :)

Be well, my friend. Have a great New Year. See you over at Motunation.
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Rodney

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostThu Dec 31, 2015 10:22 am

No, I said the bit about the breaks because I think it's worth looking into: for many of the endurance activities (like dancing, for instance) the Guinness guidelines allow you to take short breaks now and again to use the bathroom, drink some water, and not hurt yourself too badly. I would bet that the 103 hour piano playing session had some permissible breaks, and you should learn that if you can before embarking. For instance, can you take a five minute break between each film?

(And I suppose you could see if the theater would be willing to cue up another film if you find at the end you still have some steam!)

I remember reading a story from a sister of a woman who played in the nickelodeons, and put in really long hours to keep the fatherless family afloat during hard times. The story-teller told of taking her sister a roast beef sandwich to the theater on New Years Eve as a special treat. That tells me that she didn't usually go home for dinner, thus probably playing from the early show until closing, but that she DID have time to eat a sandwich.

Other memoirs indicate that often the early shows were matinees of westerns and comedies for kids, who were so rowdy and pleased with anything involving horses or shooting that the management didn't bother hiring a pianist. And that fact might shorten our hypothetical nickelodeon work day. But it was probably different at every theater.
Rodney Sauer
The Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra
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"Let the Music do the Talking!"
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Michael Mortilla

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostThu Dec 31, 2015 10:55 am

We've arranged for the films to be staggered by 10-15 min. If breaks are possible to set the record I'll be more than happy to take them. I still have to hear from Guinness.

The "theater" In this instance has been built into the 5 or 6 room exhibit. Seats 30 in authentic theater seats. Really just a big wall open on two sides. People stroll in and out as the films play. Step past the wall and your back in front of millions of dollars of paintings, photos, books, sculptures, and artifacts from Germany between the two world wars.

Great exhibit!

http://www.lacma.org/art/exhibition/new ... r-republic" target="_blank
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Robert Israel Music

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostFri Jan 01, 2016 6:44 pm

It is an interesting idea…going for a World’s Record…but I believe that in the first days of Pordenone, they had but one pianist and he played all shows, every day, for a week! The longest day I had in performance was many years ago in Hollywood. I was hired to perform for LA BOHEME and ORPHANS OF THE STORM as a double feature…two times in a row! Each feature was preceded by a cartoon and a two reel comedy. I began performing at 3 P.M. and I finished my day after Midnight. The audience had been told about the length of my day, and the theater manager (I remember this) said, "...and the second feature, 'Orphans of the Storm,' ends with a big chase..." to which the audience reacted with a large collective "Whoa!" When I finished the show, I think I got one of the best audience reactions (they were stomping and screaming), but someone's voice rose about the crowd and a man yelled out, "Don't applaud...throw money!!!" That was a very long day, but a really fun experience.

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Michael Mortilla

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostFri Jan 01, 2016 10:43 pm

Great story, Robert, and no doubt people have played much longer than the proposed 9 hours, but not documented by the Guinness folks, so we should start somewhere. I hope they accept the application and even more so, hope that someone breaks the record quickly so I can try an again. I don't know much about how they document this kind of thing, but I also suspect the venue needs to be monitored somehow but a representative(s) of the organization. In my application I specifically stated it was improvised as improvising that long is also not documented. Again, the record for piano performance is 103 hors and I'm not fool enough to try that unless 1) I get breaks to sleep; and 2) I get paid a boat load of money (or if the audience throw money at me (large bills only, please).

BTW, happy new year!
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Donald Binks

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostSat Jan 02, 2016 1:39 am

Wouldn't playing the goanna all that time leave the hands rather limp at the wrist? Jolly painful I should think!
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Michael Mortilla

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Re: Going for a new (documented) world's record...

PostSat Jan 02, 2016 2:19 am

That's certainly something the others here can address. For me, it's usually my back that goes first after a few hours. Rarely do I get pain in my arms or hands. A few years ago I had both hands operated on for carpel tunnel. Prior to that it was debilitating. Since the surgery they've been painless and totally responsive.

Prior to playing silents I was a modern dance accompanist for Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey playing 13 hour days at times. So even a nine hour day, while not "easy" some 30 years later, is at least conceivable if not predictable.
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