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Alloy Orchestra

For more than 30 years, Alloy Orchestra clashed cymbals, pounded drums, and thrashed their signature junk metal to create their signature soundtracks for many of the great works of film history.

Alloy Band Shot - Ken's 001.jpg


The best in the world at accompanying silent films.” Roger Ebert

ALLOY ORCHESTRA is a three man musical ensemble, writing and performing live accompaniment to classic silent films. Working with an outrageous assemblage of peculiar objects, they thrash and grind soulful music from unlikely sources


Performing at prestigious film festivals and cultural centers in the US and abroad (The San Francisco Silent Film Festival, The Telluride Film Festival, The Louvre, Lincoln Center, The Academy of Motion Pictures, the National Gallery of Art and others), Alloy has helped revive some of the great masterpieces of the silent era.

An unusual combination of found percussion and state-of-the-art electronics gives the Orchestra the ability to create any sound imaginable.

Utilizing their famous “rack of junk” and electronic synthesizers, the group generates beautiful music in a spectacular variety of styles. They can conjure up a French symphony or a simple German bar band of the 20’s. The group can make the audience think it is being attacked by tigers, contacted by radio signals from Mars or swept up in the Russian Revolution.


(The Alloy Orchestra) Is widely considered to form the premier silent-movie band.

Bob Young

Boston Herald


Alloy Orchestra is revitalizing silent film masterpieces with stunning new musical scores.

M.K. Terrell

Christian Science Monitor

One of the groups most responsible for the renaissance in silent film musical performance is Alloy Orchestra, a Massachusetts-based group specializing in performing original accompaniments.

John Browniee

Wired Magazine

An ominous low growl of gently teased percussion inaugurated the accompaniment to the rarely seen silent version of Hitchcock’s “Blackmail” (1929) in the first of three Alloy Orchestra appearances at the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, on Wednesday night. This opening proved characteristic of a score that was evocative without being overstated and that followed the movie seamlessly. But with its shifting, eddying tides of sound, teasing out melodies from clarinet (Ken Winokur, the group’s director) or accordion (Terry Donohue) or synthesizer or percussion, the music could stand on its own. (The performance was taped for partial broadcast on WNYC’s “New Sounds Live,” a producer of the event, later this month.)

Beyond its evocative qualities — in, for instance, the frenetic, machine-sounding passages that accompanied scenes of turning car wheels and London traffic — the music reflected the brilliance of Hitchcock’s architecture. He plaited a thick rope of suspense from strands that initially seem inconsequential, and the music found and underlined these longer threads, creating and holding and intensifying a mood across multiple scenes, keeping one aware of the bigger picture. Yet it always stayed anchored to the action, seamlessly providing perfectly timed sound effects at telling moments: the ringing of a doorbell, the stabbing of a knife (here rendered as a shivering, metallic thinness).

Anne Midgette

New York Times

“The IT List” – 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment…Telluride Film Festival faves, these Boston-based musicians have rejuvenated the art of silent film with thrillingly quirky, percussive scores.”

Entertainment Weekly

Always compelling Alloy Orchestra.

Kenneth Turan

Los Angeles Times

I was fascinated by the power of silent film to draw me into a reverie state so deep it is like a waking dream (at Alloy’s screening of THE LAST COMMAND).

Roger Ebert

Chicago Sun Times

The characters (in THE LAST COMMAND), at first glance, you think they’re going to be two-dimensional. They’re really so much deeper than you expect them to be. The music helped convey that depth. It almost as if you needed the Alloy Orchestra to bang chamber pots for the true transcendence.

Guy Maddin

Roger Ebert's Film Festival

The maestros of sproing-and-chunk grandeur, the Alloy Orchestra.

The Nation

It’s rare to see silent films in 35mm and this year’s Telluride Festival offers some masterpieces… a restored version of Sergei Eisenstein’s 1924 debut film, “Strike,” with live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra, annual Telluride visitors who achieve an amazing bandwidth of music and sound effects.

Roger Ebert

Chicago Sun-Times

A mad masterpiece that can only be truly appreciated on a big screen.

Leonard Maltin


Stoking the excitement (of the video release of Strike) is the Alloy Orchestra… For Strike the tempo is kept tightly coiled and pounding, which …consistently adds fun to the deepening pandemonium.

Peter M. Nichols

New York Times

For the past seven years this ensemble’s members have made it their mission to reintroduce the silent era to the surround-sound generation. The trio combines a percussive barrage (drums, hubcaps, truck springs, and other found metal) with rich synthesized melodies.

Nathaniel Moss

Vanity Fair

Of the revivals, a standout was Paul Fejos’s poignantly poetic 1928 silent, “Lonesome,” with extraordinary accompaniment by the unique Alloy Orchestra.

Todd McCarthy

Daily Variety

Alloy Orchestra is an extraordinary aesthetic salvage act… Seeing The Man With the Movie Camera at the Castro with the Alloy Orchestra is a genuine eureka experience.

Michael Sragow

SF Weekly

Accompaniment is really an inadequate description of the voodoo they do with their strange and wonderful repertoire of sonic surprises.

Timothy Dugdale

Detroit Metro Times

After introducing a brief history of the film’s restoration effort, all welcomed the Alloy Orchestra, one of the leading providers of original scores for classic silents, to the orchestra section before the screen. (By the way, the Alloy Orchestra is comprised of three members, which makes the lush, titanic score they were able to produce before your very eyes and ears all the more unbelievable, like a stupendous sonic magic trick.)

The score by the Alloy Orchestra was an original creation, not based upon the score written for the film’s 1927 premiere by composer Gottfried Huppertz (a full orchestral performance of this monumental score is on the Kino DVD). The Alloy’s score is grand and dynamic, effortlessly shifting tones to suit the film’s own changing rhythms. The opening machine motif sets the stage with its driving, oppressive, industrialized beat. Another highlight of the score is the sleazy jazz motif used for the False Maria’s adventures in Yoshiwara as she seduces the elite of Metropolis into anarchic revelry, even as the city crumbles around them.

Famous Monsters of Filmland

If you have a chance to see Metropolis with live musical accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra, by all means do so.

In fact, if you have the chance to see any silent movie with the Alloy Orchestra, don’t hesitate. I’ve seen them twice now and these guys alone can redefine the way you think about silent movies. Even without live music, a big screen is still the best way to experience Metropolis. The size and scope of this film is enormous and can best be appreciated in theatres. Keep an eye out for it and, no matter what you think of silent movies, go. It’s one of the most thrilling and exciting nights at the movies you will ever experience.

Jahnke’s Electric Theater

Another audience-pleaser was the return appearance of the Alloy Orchestra, the Cambridge, Mass.-based trio who compose and play original scores to accompany vintage silent films. This year’s discovery was the 1928 “Lonesome,” by Paul Fejos, a winsome tale of love between two lost souls in the big city, made all the more charming by the hand-painted color sequences of Coney Island and by the brilliant cacophony created by the orchestra.

Anne Hurley

Los Angeles Times

The effect was superbly augmented by a thunderous accompaniment from the veteran Alloy Orchestra; there’s only three of them, but with keyboard, accordion and clarinet, and an array of various percussion instruments they created a wonderful, clamorous score with pulsating tom-tom rhythms building the climax to a pitch of intensity that was almost physical. The cumulative effect surpassed expectations: a joyful, thrilling evening, and a truly triumphant restoration.


When the film ended and the musicians took a bow the packed house of 1,100 festival goers was on its feet applauding and screaming.

Pop Culture World News

With a packed house at the famed classic movie palace, METROPOLIS was accompanied by the three-piece Alloy Orchestra who performed their brilliant new score for the film live that featured heavy on percussion to create a mechanized feel that tied in beautifully with the movie’s themes.

Alan Given

The silent masterpiece was presented with a live score performed by the Alloy Orchestra. The three musicians’ use of drums and metallic instruments for music and sound effects enhanced this story of abused workers and made it sound as if a full orchestra was playing. When the film ended and the musicians took a bow the packed house of 1,100 festival goers was on its feet applauding and screaming. It was quite a way to end a very enjoyable four days.

Unpaid Film Critic

The first showing on Friday was projected with live musical accompaniment by the famed Alloy Orchestra. This was easily one of the best cinematic experiences I’ve had in years.

Friday’s first screening here in Boston played to live music by the Alloy Orchestra. The performance was nothing short of phenomenal. Their score is raw, urgent, and exciting. It has strongly-developed themes and motifs for the characters and storylines. It often exhibits tremendous power, but also has surprising subtlety during some scenes where you might expect bombast. The group played for 2 ½ hours straight without missing an on-screen cue, and received a standing ovation from the packed theater house at the end.

Although I’m as eager as anyone to own the Blu-ray release later this year, I have to urge anyone to see ‘Metropolis’ on the big screen if you have the opportunity. And if the Alloy Orchestra happens to be performing with it, don’t miss out. (Here’s the tour schedule.) Watching this movie with live music was a thrilling experience that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Josh Zyber

Hi Def Digest 

Now wait a second, is this an art exhibit or a music concert?

Lucy Tobier, age 5

Kinesthetic Empathy

Alla Kovgan

Kinodance Festival, St. Petersburg Russia

This score (to THE LAST COMMAND) was more subdued than most of (Alloy’s) work that I’ve heard, like its demented and wonderful Metropolis score, but I liked what they did with von Sternberg’s over-the-top melodrama–letting the image do the work and keeping things more melodic in the score.

Time Out Chicago

For thousands of audiences, it’s been the Alloy Orchestra (today comprised of director Mr. Winokur, musician and vocalist Terry Donahue, and keyboardist Roger Miller) that has restored relevance to silent films.

S. James Snyder


Cornell Cinema welcomes back the Cambridge-based Alloy Orchestra for another weekend of fabulous silent films and terrific original scores performed live by this three-man musical ensemble.

They have been performing their original scores for restored silent films since the early ’90s and have emerged as the best, and best-known silent film accompanists in the world, each year premiering their latest work at the prestigious Telluride Film Festival.

Ithaca Journal

It’s was like both sides of my brain exploded.

Anonymous 10 year old at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

Devastatingly poignant…Strike was filmed in 1924, one of the great silent movies of its age. But after Alloy Orchestra performed its scorching, thunderous score at yesterday’s screening, it difficult to believe the film ever existed without it. An energetic gem … it was the trio at its best.

Tristram Lozaw

Boston Herald

…Sergei Eisenstein’s shattering 1921 piece of agitprop “Strike” – in its take-no-prisoners style, arguably the most violent movie ever made. The three piece Alloy Orchestra, specialists in creating percussive music for revolutionary Soviet movies, augmented Eisenstein’s ripsaw editing with an original score.

Michael Sragow

San Francisco Weekly

…Stirring score for Sergei Eisenstein’s “Strike,” a beautiful, harrowing piece of anti-capitalist propaganda. The power of this film was heightened by the clanking industrial rhythms of this unique group of musical performers, and once again they were one of the hits of the (Telluride) festival.

Ben Stephens

Sunday Camera

Thanks to the Alloy’s stunning contribution, the production (of Strike) is enhanced as never before. The orchestra helps create a feel of palpable menace as factory workers’ ire against the fatcat factory owners builds to the breaking point. Whether underscoring the pop of a champagne cork, a foundry’s whistle or the graphic gutting of a bull, they imbue every moment with its own unique sound and fury. By the time the final clash of cymbals concludes a devastating finale, the mix of Eisenstein and the Alloy has produced a spellbinding collaboration.

Larry Worth

New York Post

The Alloy Orchestra from Boston, fast becoming the country’s leading avant-garde interpreter of silent films, is a half-quirky, half serious outfit more than capable of adding extra menace to the long bony hands and slow, malevolent gait of Murnau’s vampire. (in Nosferatu)

Neil Strauss

New York Times

Alloy Orchestra is an extraordinary aesthetic salvage act… Seeing The Man With the Movie Camera at the Castro with the Alloy Orchestra is a genuine eureka experience.

Michael Sragow

SF Weekly

Amazing… when I saw this extravaganza (the Man with a Movie Camera) at the 1,500 seat Castro movie palace in San Francisco, the sold-out house handed it a five-minute standing O that would have gone on if the staff hadn’t had to clear the theater.

Michael Sragow

Seattle Weekly

The new score (for Man with a Movie Camera) – written, oddly, with clues from notes Vertov himself left – is unbelievable.

Susan Gerhard

San Francisco Bay Guardian

Such music is not for the faint-hearted. Its physicality in tandem with the dynamic films being presented on April 5 will make it difficult for the audience not to get physical too and jump to their feet in a standing ovation. That is, if they can collectively catch their breath.

John Morrison

The Valley Advocate

A cinematic event of the highest magnitude… the biggest- and best- addition is the Alloy Orchestra’s glorious score, (to Lonesome) which ranges from romantic reveries to rough-and-tumble re-creations of Mother Nature’s fury. Whether sounding a factory whistle’s screech or a calliope’s enchanted outpourings, the Alloy’s contribution is sheer magic (as evidenced in their ’95 accompaniment to ‘Man with a Movie Camera.

Larry Worth

New York Post

The Alloy Orchestra created their magnificent score (for Man with a Movie Camera). The music – imaginative and responsive, rhythmically based, urban paced – makes the film a “talkie,” and an audio-visual triumph.

Philip Elwood

San Francisco Examiner

As virtuosic as Vertov’s camera work (in Man with a Movie Camera), as head-rushingly kinetic as the film’s editing, as lavish and overwhelming as a hundred-piece orchestra, the Alloy’s music was a torrent of modernist energy.

Gavin Borchert

Seattle Weekly

Performing their own scores to classic silent movies, Boston’s three-man (but truly symphonic) Alloy Orchestra have built a fervent following by being just as smart and imaginative as the films they accompany.

Godfrey Cheshire

New York Press

The score (to Lonesome) by the Alloy Orchestra, a three-man group that creates amazing sounds from offbeat percussion instruments and synthesizers, augments Fejos’s edgy, jagged lyricism.

The New Yorker

The Alloy Orchestra will play along to the 1929 classic with their racks of junk metal and a keyboard made of doorbells, giving Lonesome a modern voice box. The effect is spellbinding.

Time Out, New York


The Alloy’s original music for Lonesome thunders along with their customary displays of exhilarating rhythm, but also weaves original motifs together with the film’s Irving Berlin theme song, “Always,” creating a score more melodically satisfying than anything else they’ve done.

Jason Vince

Village Voice

If more silent movies had received a live accompaniment from the Alloy Orchestra those new-fangled talkies might never have taken off.

Bruce Stirling

The Dominion (New Zealand)

The Alloy Orchestra’s second stunning performance found the threesome playing the score to The Man with the Movie Camera, and the result left the audience reeling, ecstatic, and utterly gobsmacked.

The Dominion (New Zealand)

When I heard the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Alloy Orchestra play their rich score for the German “Sylvester” at the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado, their dynamism galvanized an overflow audience into cheers.

Kenneth Turan

Smithsonian Magazine

(The Man with a Movie Camera) is a gem, a landmark, a cause for celebration. But when the three man Alloy Orchestra performs its complementary score, “Man” moves onto an even higher plane: an event that defines the wonders of sight and sound. … Add in that phenomenal score, which stops only when the action does, and “Man with a Movie Camera” emerges as one of the year’s filmgoing highlights, a must for all movie- and music- lovers alike.

Larry Worth

New York Post

One of the greatest silents, Victor Seastrom’s “The Wind” (1928), will screen tonight with live accompaniment by the Alloy Orchestra. Its soaring, pulsating score complements the visual splendor and psychological complexity of this terse, succinct story.

Los Angeles Times

The amazingly versatile sounds of the Alloy trio manage to convey just the right mood – electronic surges, lurching percussion syncopations: at times like a calliope, at others like a brass band; land sometimes, during the long sequence at Coney Island, switching from dance-band fox trots to desert-caravan strains. With the remarkable impressionistic ad-lib accompaniment by Alloy backing the mesmerizing visual and dramatic concepts of Fejos’ “Lonesome” emerges as an unequaled capturing of life, love and survival-in-the-city during the late 1920’s.

Philip Elwood

San Francisco Examiner

If I had to pick a single favorite program at Telluride ) it would have been the restored version of the 1929 quasi-silent film “Lonesome” which was accompanied live by the Alloy Orchestra.

Roger Ebert

Chicago Sun-Times

The Alloy Orchestra constituted the event of the Telluride festival. They crashed cymbals, beat on all sorts of metallic devices, added a piano and accordion and left the crowd limp at the end.

Howie Movshovitz

Denver Post


BluRay and DVD

  • L'inhumaine, Blu-ray (Flicker Alley)

  • Phantom of the Opera, Blu-ray and DVD (Kino Lorber)

  • Black Pirate, DVD (Kino International)

  • Man with the Movie Camera, Blu-Ray, DVD, Laser disc and VHS (Image Entertainment)

  • STRIKE!, DVD (Image Entertainment)

  • Fatty Arbuckle Vol. I and II, DVD (Kino International)

  • The General/Steamboat Bill, Jr., DVD (Image Entertainment, Flicker Alley)[39]

  • Slapstick Masters, DVD (Image Entertainment, Flicker Alley)

  • The Lost World, DVD (Image Entertainment)

  • Phantom of the Opera, Blu-ray and DVD (Image Entertainment, Kino Lorber)

  • Dragonflies the Baby Cries, DVD (Self published by Jane Gillooly)

  • Manslaughter, DVD (Kino International)

  • Wild and Weird, DVD (Flicker Alley)

  • Son of the Sheik, Blu-ray and DVD (Kino Lorber, Box 5)

  • The Eagle, Blu-ray and DVD (Kino Lorber)

  • Lon Chaney Collection, (The Unknown), Blu-ray and DVD (Warner Home Video)

  • Last Command, Blu-ray and DVD (Criterion Collection)

  • Underworld, Blu-ray and DVD (Criterion Collection)

CD and records

  • New Music for Silent Films, CD (Accurate Records,1994)

  • Silents, CD (Accurate Records, 1997)

  • Lonesome, CD (Bib Records, 1995)

  • Metropolis, CD - 2 disk set (Alloy Orchestra)

  • Last Command, CD (Alloy Orchestra)

  • Underworld , CD (Alloy Orchestra)

  • Man with a Movie Camera, vinyl - 2 record set (Third Man Records, 2014)

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