Listen to the “Idle Mind” Suite
“An Idle Mind is the Devil’s Playground” tells the bizarre story of Sid Kottler, composer and theremin
player who has shut himself away from the outside world.
Here is the signature composition for the entire film, played during the opening and closing credits.
In concert with Jason’s amazing black and white footage of the neighborhood and inside Sid’s home,
it is this piece that really sets the film’s tone and mood. Here is:
THE “IDLE MIND” MAIN THEME
Safely locked in his home, Sid lives in relative peace, free to express himself by playing his own original
compositions on a theremin he himself built. This composition was used in the film only as solo and duet
theremin. Here, for the first time, is the fully orchestrated version:
SID’S SAFE LITTLE WORLD
Sid’s new neighbor, Anne, is curious about the strange music and sounds coming from next door at all
hours. She decides to go over to introduce herself. The film’s director was provided with short “fills,”
mini-compositions to be used specifically for suspense. Here’s a montage of some of those fills:
ANNE WALKS STRAIGHT INTO SUSPENSE
Early in the composition process, Michael Jason Allen sent me two classical piano pieces, played by pianist,
Finley Cotter. The original intent was to feature a scene during which the audience witnesses Sid’s
theremin virtuosity; he is not playing the melody in the pieces, but rather, he creates his own spontaneous
improvisation over the melody. That is precisely what I did for this well known Chopin piece. For it to
be truly authentic, it was played in one continuous take (out of about a dozen attempts), but unfortunately
never made it into the film.
While Sid dreams, he meets Lydia. During their romantic encounter, they dance together in winter woods.
In the film, they danced to Moon River (with the melody played on the theremin), which worked beautifully.
I honestly believe it worked better than what I composed, which, in retrospect, was arguably romantic,
but in an odd, too-strange thereminy sort of way:
THE WEIRD WINTER WALTZ
In one scene, all of Sid’s dream characters have invaded his home. He finds them drinking and dancing to
an old 78 recording of one of his original compositions from the 1940s. The film features about 30 seconds
of the piece. Here it is in its entirety, without the scratchy 78 ambience:
THEREMINUET IN SWING
Sid routinely comforts himself by playing his theremin:
SID’S SAFE LITTLE WORLD – Solo
Just as Michael Jason Allen was provided with “fills” for suspense, he was also sent tiny musical “tinglers,”
to be used during startling moments and dream sequences. Here is a montage of some of them:
REALLY REALLY BAD DREAMS
Another of pianist, Finley Cotter’s contributions is one of Beethoven’s most famous pieces. Again, the
idea here was demonstrate Sid’s ability to improvise. Fans of Beethoven should listen for familiar passages
from other works, such as his nine symphonies. Although not in the film, this, like the Chopin, was
improvised in a single take: