RZA’s Live Score Of ‘The 36th Chamber of Shaolin’ Reveals An Artist In His Element

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10.03.16

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Since their inception, Kung Fu movies have played an integral part in the sound and culture of The Wu-Tang Clan. While the film genre has had an impact on hip hop since the 1970s, The Wu-Tang Clan were the first to make it central to their group’s philosophy. The Wu-Tang’s de facto leader, RZA, cites The 36th Chamber of Shaolin as a particularly strong influence on him growing up. “Beyond the Kung-Fu, it was the reality of the situation that hit me,” he said. “Growing up as a black kid in America, I didn’t know that kind of story had existed anywhere else.”

One night, roughly 18 months ago, the idea came about to have RZA re-score all the music for the movie that had so much of a formative impact on him, while leaving the original dialogue and sound effects intact. After a year-and-a-half of meticulous planning, the Alamo Drafthouse helped make it a reality with RZA: Live From The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin, which made its debut at the Stateside Theater in Austin, Texas, last Thursday night. For two uninterrupted hours, RZA used his 20-plus years of sound archives like an arsenal, while meticulously composing an all-new soundtrack for the film, from the first frame all the way to the last.

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Christian Long is a writer and graphic designer residing in Austin, TX. Some of his hobbies include walking his dogs and compulsively dissecting trivial moments in pop culture.

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