Monday, June 11, 2012

Day One Hundred and Sixty Three

A lot of what happens in this project has been improvised. From the use of sounds and instruments, to the addition of different effects and digital manipulation, and the juxtaposition of recordings from different sources. I have a lot of general ideas about the music and what I'd like to do, but not much is planned in advance. Sometimes this works perfectly; at other times I'll tweak the length or placement of a sample, or even begin the whole mixing process over. But sometimes beautiful things happen by accident, like the 'pop' of polystyrene happening just before the 'pop' of Anja's music box, making one sound ricochet off the other. It's something that I didn't think to do, in terms of lining up the sound clips, but it just came out that way and it worked.

I've been hunting around for words to describe my music, and I find this task incredibly difficult. One concept that I've been playing with is that of music for a film that doesn't exist (i.e. the music that I'm making here is similar to that which I would make to accompany an animation, film, or play, but the visual element isn't there). Then today I came across Walter Ruttmann, a German experimental filmmaker from the early Twentieth Century. He made a "sound film without images," Weekend (1929), an eleven-minute rapid montage of speech, noises, and music. Ruttmann pre-dated John Cage in his opinion that everyday sounds could, and should, be considered (and included in) music. Something else that Ruttmann's work considers is the different ways we listen (in a cinema as opposed to a concert hall, for example). His image-less film was shown in a cinema, at a time when recorded sound was relatively new, and seen as an accompaniment to what was on the screen. Having the audio as the only element present challenges this heirarchy. The film can be heard here.

(The description of Walter Ruttmann's film is from the book Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories by Alan Licht.

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