Music On Hold (English)
Music on Hold represents a very pleasant surprise in the present soundtrack landscape. From a pure musical perspective, it is completely away from the cliché we have got used to in recent times. Therefore, it is really appreciated that US label Howlin’ Wolf Records has released a limited edition of 500 copies.
Music On Hold – The Movie
The truth is that part of the film’s trick lies on its own “McGuffin”, the cinematic device that makes the plot move on. What could be better than a movie about a film composer in search of an elusive melody?
Ezequiel Font (Diego Peretti) is a musician suffering from creative block, unable to find a musical theme for the climactic scene of the film he is working on. Or, at least, a theme that will please its director. He needs a memorable theme and he cannot find any inspiration within himself. Neither the situation he is going through helps: newly divorced, broken and with a mortgage about to expire, one last and final time. All he owns depends on finishing his assignment for the movie “The Waiting” and settling the debt owed to his bank.
And it is during a phone call to this bank, while he is being put through from intern to intern, that he listens to some music on hold, temporarily finding his inspiration, for losing it again the moment the call is finished. He needs to hear that melody again. The only thing he has is the name of the last person he talked to. Paula.
Paula Otero (Natalia Oreiro) is the assistant manager in the bank. Pregnant by Santiago, who did not take care of the baby, about to give birth and with her mother (Norma Aleandro) just arrived from Spain and convinced that Paula and Santiago are a happy couple. So, when Ezequiel is desperately walking all the phones in the bank in order to find that damned melody…
Music On Hold – The Score
The composer in charge of the music for the movie is Guillermo Guareschi, a graduate of the Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he also studied orchestration with David Spear, collaborator of the great Elmer Bernstein, and also trained in Los Angeles with other well-known professionals such as Fred Karlin, Mike Post and Earle Hagen. And all this background shows in his way of matching music and image. Technique is perfect, but the music has a soul that most American productions are lacking. Maybe it is because neither the film nor the music comes to us from Hollywood, but from Argentina.
There is no doubt that the quality of the final result is due to the great involvement of the composer in the project. As mentioned by Guareschi himself in the booklet, he was personally in charge not only of the composing tasks, but also of orchestrating, of the musical production, of the sound design, the recording, he played some of the instruments and mixed and mastered the final product.
Actually, it is the music that sets the tone for the film. They are short, European-style themes. Their use is spaced out, without abusing; the music appears only when needed. This use of themes is somewhat reminiscent of maestro Morricone. One notices that Guareschi likes that style, full of sense of humor. And, no doubt, it is the best of the CD too: music is a combination of melancholy, vital adventure and joy. Instrumentation also contributes to it, based on a string quartet, bassoon and piano, accompanied by clarinet, bass guitar, synthesizer, percussion, guitar and… banjo!
There is a moment in the movie, while Ezequiel talks to the director, that they define the required music as “liquid”, in the sense that it should feel like from within a pregnant womb. Reality is not far from it. Guareschi’s music is liquid in the sense that it fits the film like a glove.
Where the composer’s skills really lie is in the dramatic sense he relays to the drama with his music. A clear example is heard in track Bathroom’s Vertigo, where the protagonist is hiding in a bathtub, trying to recover his Mp3. And that is just a sample. Mother-in-Law’s Theme is able to convey how the character is with a couple of strokes and in a minute (the unexpected arrival, the controlling intentions, the good heart).
The great irony is that “action” cues, those in which Ezequiel uses the phones in the bank, being a raider of the lost tune, are scored with arrangements of the tune itself (To the Bank, Ezequiel on the Loose, Inside the Bank). And with a final rendition in the End Titles.
The themes are brilliant indeed and serve the plot. But where Guareschi is absolutely impressive is in the last cue. It could not be otherwise. The whole plot drives us inevitably to that moment. It is what rounds the story, gives meaning to it and makes that we need no longer the music as “McGuffin”. “The Waiting” gets its long-awaited theme and Music on Hold, too. Ezequiel finds his inspiration, love and a new life. A theme built around a name as musical motif: S-E-B-A. One letter, one note. Developed in Seba and Seba on Clarinets, and with a complete rendition in The Waiting. The climax.
The album includes a couple of themes by Beethoven and Bach (Elisa and Bach Inconclude), which have diegetic meaning within the film. The first is music on hold based on For Elise, representing a sample of all the music on hold tunes heard in the movie. The latter illustrates the instant we see the protagonist really smiling for the first time, while playing Bach’s The Art of Fugue.
Finally, the CD includes also some piano variations, inspired by the end theme. They are six cues (from track 17 to 22), showing Guareschi’s ability to make the same melody sound always anew. And full of life.
Moreover, regarding the album itself, it is noteworthy the sober and successful design by Luis Miguel Rojas, appropriate packaging for what we will find inside. And I would like to thank especially Raúl Martí, co-producer of the release, his collaboration in making the writing of this short article possible.
A highly recommended CD, which should not be missing in the collection of every good fan. Especially, if he is willing to listen to something different, which does not sound exactly the same as hundreds of other themes or which is based only on a misunderstood sound design. Guillermo Guareschi has something to convey and puts his soul into his music. Nothing more, nothing less.
Music on hold
- 01. Elisa (0:20)
- 02. To the Bank (1:12)
- 03. Ezequiel on the Loose (1:16)
- 04. Mother-in-Law Theme (0:59)
- 05. Inside the Bank (1:04)
- 06. On Fire (1:16)
- 07. Bach Inconclude (1:41)
- 08. Sushi (1:16)
- 09. Mother-in-Law Nap (0:38)
- 10. Seba (3:03)
- 11. Seba on Clarinets (2:43)
- 12. Ringtones (1:39)
- 13. The Waiting (2:44)
- 14. End Titles (0:37)
- 15. Irish on Hold (2:50)
- 16. Bathroom's Vertigo (2:25)
- 17. Borlänge (1:54)
- 18. A Minor (2:26)
- 19. Beaufort (2:22)
- 20. Mysteries of Gargantua (2:24)
- 21. The Garden Inside (2:44)
- 22. Vastagus (2:23)