The music for ASK FATHER (1919), commissioned by, and dedicated to The Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, is the first film score I had written for a Harold Lloyd comedy. This charming short contains a very simple premise; that of Harold catastrophically attempting (over the course of 13 minutes) to capture more than 3 seconds of undivided attention from the businessman father of his intended bride-to-be, in order to ask for his blessing.

 

For me, these series of 11 tries and failures, musically speaking, resemble a dance band play-list. One number after another and in rapid-fire succession. Each of Harold’s clever attempts are different in nature and approach, and is musically accompanied accordingly. The challenge lies in simply keeping up with him. The score, despite being a short film, is nearly 800 measures long, and not a single measure of Adagio among them.

 

The ASK FATHER score utilizes period instrumentation and orchestration technique that I have come to know very well over the past 20 years of silent-film restoration of original scores. 4 saxophones, 2 trumpets, 2 trombones, tuba, percussion, piano, banjo and a handful of strings do the job nicely. It has always been my philosophy when writing scores for silent-film, to try and look backwards. With all the new roads we composers (and listeners) have traveled over the past century, it’s refreshing to, once in a while, tie my own hands and try and think “what would have Mr. Lloyd wanted?,” while keeping my voice alive and well. This is, at least, my humble offering.

 

Timothy Brock

 

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