Finally, my eighty-minute movie score will be premiered, here in Oklahoma City, June 10, 2012. This music was commissioned by the Oklahoma State Historical Society (Dr. Bob Blackburn, Executive Director), in December of 2007. The OSHS sought a symphonic score as a sound track to the 1920 silent film, “Daughter of Dawn,” by Norbert A. Myles. I, David Yeagley, was chosen. I am the first American Indian composer to be commissioned for a full-length movie score. The score was completed in June, 2008.
The film, with the music, will be presented to the public, for the first time, June 10, 2012 (Sunday) by the Dead Center Film Festival in Oklahoma City. There are two showings: 12:30 and 2:30, both at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art (415 Couch Drive) (SeeOKCMA schedule and tickets.)
As the premiere approaches, there will be more and more publicity. The Oklahoma State Historical Society has major plans for the film and the music. After several different showings in Oklahoma, plans include showings at the major films festivals in the United States, like San Francisco, Sundance, Tribeka; and then festivals of the world, like Toronto, Cannes, and Milan. Fund raising has already begun.
The score features the American Indian flute as the musical personaof the main character, Daughter of Dawn. The flute part is performed by Timohty Archambault, Kichesipirini (The Kichesipirini are a Canadian Algonquian tribe, of the Ottawa River region around Morrison Island.) Archambault has performed and recorded my music before. He performed the Indian flute part for my Salve Regina (women’s chorus) at the National Museum of the American Indian, November 12, 2007. He has also make historical recordings for the Smithsonian. Archambault is an modern authority on all North American Indian flutes, their history, their use, and even the making of them. Archambault is able to perform all the chromatic scales on the flute, not just the traditional pentatonic (five note) scale. In the future he will have an album of my Suite Tragique(2007), a 45 minute collection of baroque dance forms for unaccompanied Indian flute.
The score to Daughter of Dawn includes full orchestra and percussion, with piano solos and harp as well. The piano part is the musical persona of Red Wing, the other important Indian girl in the story. I liken Red Wing to Puccini’s “Liù,” from the Persian operaTurandohkt (“Turan dokhtar”—daughter of the Turan), better known as Turandot (1926). It is the exquisite tragedy of a woman’s unrequited love. I chose the piano for Red Wing because of its natural sentimentality.
Like most of my music, Daughter of Dawn employs my new system of harmonic organization. It is, hopefully, a unique re-arrangement of the principles of tonality. The audience will hear familiar sounds, but not in familiar ways. The level of expectation should be in a perpetual titillation, as it were. There are rare moments in which my system will allow outright tonality. One such moment is reserved for the film’s ultimate romantic scene.
I have been developing this system since the early ‘90′s, when I was studying composition with Daniel Asia, master composer (and probably even more master teacher), at the University of Arizona. I have explored all compositional forms and procedures with my harmonic system, beginning with hard core baroque contrapuntal music. I am confident that the system works. I trust the audience will be pleased with the sounds of Daughter of Dawn. The score is actually quite romantic in style.
Daughter of Dawn is the first drama film to feature all American Indians. The story is a Myles combination of various Indian stories from the southwest. The film was made in the Wichita Mountains of southwest Oklahoma. Notably, there are Indians in the film who are old enough to have been alive during the free days. Some of these actors and actresses have relatives alive to this day. Sammy Tonekei (Ton’-kee-eye) White, a famous pow-wow MC (in his eighties) is the son of Em-koy-e-tie, one of the women in the movie.
More information about the film, its history, and everyone involved in it, and in the musical recording for it, will be released in due time. For now, I just wanted to announce the fact that it’s happening!
(One more note: the weekend just before this, June 3, the three of my works will be performed at the Chickasaw Chamber Music Festival in Ada, Oklahoma. More about that, later.)