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Re-scoring History

Re-scoring History Oscar Micheaux's 1925 silent race film - Body and Soul - Re-scoring Project.

The Latest Update

2015 – 2016 Performances!

Posted on December 16, 2015 by Don DiNicola

1/15/2016 Black Cinema House at the University Of Chicago will screen the DVD version of the film with Renée’s score..

1/31/2016 There will be a live performance of the score with the movie at Dominican University in River Forest IL..

4/17/2016 Featured Presentation –  Live performance of the score with the movie  at the 2016 Ebertfest – Roger Ebert Film Festival in Champagne IL.

Many thanks to New Music USA for it’s support of the premier live performance of the score with the movie at the Chatham 14 Cinema in Chicago IL on October 1, 2015.  See the clip above!

More Updates ▼

It’s official!!

Posted on September 5, 2015 by Don DiNicola

Here is the poster for the world premier of the newly Re-scored version of Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 silent masterpiece BODY AND SOUL starring Paul Robeson.  The score will be performed live by the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project.  Mark your calendar!

The score begins to take shape.

Posted on September 5, 2015 by Don DiNicola

What a great opportunity for focussed concentration.  The performance is only 26 days away … 

Renee starts an 18 day residency at the Ragdale Foundation

Posted on September 5, 2015 by Don DiNicola

On Monday August 31 Renee packed up her red Mini Cooper and set off from Bolingbrook Il to make the short 50 mile jaunt to the Ragdale Foundation site in Lake Forest Il. Up the back road, to the main house and then to her quarters where she begins work on the score for the live performance of Body and Soul.  

World Premier date set!!

Posted on August 21, 2015 by Don DiNicola

We are on track to complete development of a live performance score for the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project culminating in a live performance with the film Body And Soul at the Chatham 14 Theatre in Chicago on October 1, 2015. Here are the significant dates leading up to the premier:

August 31- September 18
Cross Cultural Residency at the Ragdale Artist Colony: Re-Scoring History- Body and Soul (continued score development and context research)
Renee will by participating in a Cross Cultural Residency at the Ragdale Artist Colony: Re-Scoring History- Body and Soul. As part of the residency she will be presenting workshops on the history of Oscar Micheaux, implications of the genre of race films, along with treatments and development of the new live performance score for the film. There will be a screening of the DVD version of the film featuring Renee’s original score and subsequent development of the orchestral score for live performance at selected schools, universities and community groups to be selected by Ragdale.
September 26 
Hyde Park Record Store will host a DVD release /presentation event – including an excerpt Screening of Body And Soul along with a discussion of AACM influence on the live score development.
October 1
Chatham 14 Theatre/Chicago will host the world premier performance/screening of Body And Soul.
World Premiere of the Chicago Modern Orchestra Project’s performance of the new original score for Body And Soul – sponsorship and development from New Music USA.  

A Successful opening at MCA Chicago

Posted on July 17, 2015 by Don DiNicola

The screening/panel discusion at MCA Chicago on 4/26/15  was a great success! See review below and watch the first 8 minutes of the film.  DVD release expected fall 2015.


Lewis Achenbach April 26, 2015
“As I was watching the film, I had the notion that is was a contemporary film, shot recently, done with CGI to make it look like an old silent film. The score somehow created a wormhole and fused 1925 and 2015 (or maybe I was watching a film from an ancient future.) The sound and vision was crisp and seamless, the score abstractly holding slightly behind the subject matter, yet portending and nudging like a ripple somehow. It was a gorgeous experience, elevating my appreciation for Micheaux, and my continuing fascination with the impressive talents of Miss Renee Baker. I do hope her collaborations with Don DiNicola increase in number. A released soundtrack and reissued film of Body and Soul is certainly called for, in my opinion.”


Re-scoring History

Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 Silent Race Film Body and Soul Re-scoring Project.

The new score is a collaboration between Composer Renee Baker and Producer/Artistic Director Don DiNicola. The score is composed by Renee Baker and performed by her Chicago Modern Orchestra Project. The production and editing of the score is the work of Don DiNicola.

Most scores for silent films function as accompaniment like the piano or organ would in the original silent film era. The new score fulfills the roles of narrator, dialog and underscore all at once. The music doesn’t just accompany the film, it embodies the narrative voice, speaks for the characters and underscores the drama.

To achieve this, our approach was to break down the film into individual scenes and then analyze the dramatic content and narrative function of each scene. This opened a door to a new understanding of what we believe Oscar Micheaux was trying to achieve with his unique approach to narrative film structure. In many ways this prescient approach anticipates what is being done in filmmaking today. We discovered that the quick intercutting of scenes which had seemed jarring and superficial at first glance works as a parallel narrative device, with one narrative always being primary. The secondary narrative is related to the primary by the fact that both are happening at once in the narrative time frame.

As regarding the scoring process, this allows for a choice to musically support the main narrative thread or to superimpose a secondary thematic musical component simultaneously with the primary. The result is an added complex and layered dramatic effect which clarifies the storytelling.
This film is especially important . The narrative doesn’t rely solely on correcting racial stereotypes of the times. It delivers its message with a complex moral tinge that was frank and honest to the point where even the African American audience was shocked to see a preacher portrayed in such a morally ambiguous light. Oscar Micheaux was a pioneering filmmaker who’s reputation deserves rescuing from the “race film” categorization. This treatment of Body and Soul endeavors to change the dialog and place Body and Soul squarely where it belongs, as a salient work of art and social commentary in the context of the early silent film era.

This new version of the film exists with a score constructed from the compositions of Renee Baker, written and performed expressly for the film and thoroughly edited by Don DiNicola to fit the time restraints of the film edit. We intend that Body and Soul be the first in a series of films to be re-scored and presented in concert. To that end Body and Soul will have its world premier (with the recorded score) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago on April 26, 2015. Subsequent screenings are scheduled for May 17, 2015 at the Dominican University in River Forest, IL, and early fall 2015 at the DuSable Museum Of African American History.



Start and End Dates



Chicago, Illinois

6 updates
Last update on December 16, 2015

Project Created By

New York, New York
Don DiNicola is a composer, music supervisor and director.  He has worked on the Emmy award winning shows; “Suicide Bombers/Cult Of Death” – DISCOVERY, “The Art Of Failure; Chuck Connelly Not For Sale – HBO” (both as Music Supervisor) and most recently the Emmy Award Winning “Baring It All”  (as composer).  He has written and…

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