A Hash House Fraud (2008)
for piano solo, 11 minutes
Notes on the score:
This score was recorded in late March, 2008, at The Catholic University of America. The take used was the second play-through, watching the film live.
"Hash House Fraud" (Louise Fazenda, 1915) is an eccentric and curious comedy, which unfolds at a typically fast pace. The basic storyline is a common fraud: the owner of a failing restaurant (the "Busy Bee") manages to onload the place on an unsuspecting buyer, by loading the restaurant with free diners to make it seem busy when the buyer shows up (the seller promises everyone a free meal). Cash is literally placed on the barrelhead for the sale, but the new owner encounters immediate problems when he and his wife try to make the customers pay for their meals. A brawl ensues - the police (the famous Keystone cops, as this is an early Keystone comedy) are called - and the chase begins. The chase ends in the water - the fraud-dealing seller is dumped into the drink (possibly drowned?), and the new owner celebrates. Along the way, there is a secret relationship between the seller's girlfriend and the restaurant's cook to add additional wrinkles.
The shape of the film is somewhat difficult to discern; musical equivalents were not readily suggested by this particular film's structure. But, I created an energetic score which responds to the eccentricities of the film, and tracks the developments of the film in real time.
--Andrew Earle Simpson