Nicholas Escobar

  • 2020
  • Music
  • Composition for Screen - MSc

Nicholas Escober: Sonically Reimagining Charlie Chaplin's "The Immigrant" (1917)

Nicholas Escober
Sonically Reimagining Charlie Chaplin's "The Immigrant" (1917)

What do you want people to know about your graduation project? 

I sought to sonically reimagine Charlie Chaplin’s seminal 1917 short film The Immigrant by crafting an enveloping and ever-changing cerebral soundscape that deftly describes the sense of discombobulation and worry Chaplin’s character is feeling as he immigrates, arrives and makes a life for himself in America. 

I recorded over 800 individual sounds, from metal rods to a typewriter to a dog toy to a bike bell. These sounds became a part of complex rhythms and also act as unrealistic foley.   

The music makes the film surreal, like a reflected sound-world of reality. Through Chaplin’s confusion and displacement, his perception of reality alters, leading to normal objects suddenly becoming relentless rhythms, and bizarre soundscapes from the natural world and city streets suddenly appearing out of thin air. 

 

What or who is your inspiration and why is following this route important to you?

For this score I drew from musicians like Django Reinhardt, Miles Davis, Tchaikovsky and Chopin, and was inspired by free jazz. As a result, I employ improvisational technique throughout.  

Charlie Chaplin is also a massive influence for me. I am such a fan of his work and aspire to be a storyteller like him. He composed the music for his films. His skill for writing effective melodies that truly make the orchestra sing helped influence my composition of eight different musical motifs for The Immigrant. 

Nicholas Escobar_Composition for Screen - MSc_2020_Sonically Reimagining Charlie Chaplin's _The Immigrant_ (1917)_2.jpg
Nicholas Escobar
Sonically Reimagining Charlie Chaplin's "The Immigrant" (1917)
Nicholas Escobar_Composition for Screen - MSc_2020_Sonically Reimagining Charlie Chaplin's _The Immigrant_ (1917)_7.jpeg
Nicholas Escobar
Sonically Reimagining Charlie Chaplin's "The Immigrant" (1917)

What has been your favourite thing about ECA and Edinburgh? 

My favourite thing about Edinburgh is that you are surrounded by so much incredible history. From the museums, to the Georgian architecture, to the awe-inspiring Old Town. One of my favourite things to do in the city is to just walk around and explore. I set out to always walk down a new street every day. It is just a wonderful city to traverse.


My favourite thing about the ECA is the incredible amount of creativity that all the students have. I had the pleasure of composing score for two animation students' thesis films. It was so lovely collaborating with the insanely talented students, and it shows the skill and talent that is at the ECA.    

One of the most important classes that I’ve taken is Martin Parker’s Audio Crafting course at the Reid School of Music. This course, among other things, taught me about recording and organizing sound-kits. Since taking this course, recording original sound-kits for projects has become a part of my common practice. With these sound-kits I’m able to create unique percussion as well as original sample instruments.  This all helps to make my music stand out.  
 

What are your hopes for life after ECA? Do you have any plans? 

My goal is to make a career out of composing music for film and theatre.  

 

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