Re: Harry Smith music

From: Jack Sargeant (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Mar 14 2006 - 00:02:44 PST

when i was researching Naked Lens i found out somewhere / from somebody
that Harry Smith actually also screened the Early Abstractions to jazz
musicians who would improvise to them.

regarding Fred's comment on screening these films with sound then
silent, one interesting aspect of teaching music and sound design and
film (which i have done on occasion) is the relationship between sound
and image. i have a colleague who would screen a film clip (narrative
not abstract) to various soundtracks and so on, and get the students to
discuss how each soundtrack 'worked'. of course the human brain
invariably matches sound to image (in narrative cinema) in order to
make sense.

Harry Smith's work is so good because it can function with different
soundtracks, because, I think, he understood the relationship between
sound and image and the way in which it is read by the viewer.


On Tuesday, March 14, 2006, at 02:00 am, Pip Chodorov wrote:

> I thought the first few Early Abstraction films were carefully based
> on early jazz pieces, just as some of his early paintings were. The
> rhythms in the film match rhythms in the music, as well as heartbeat
> and breathing rhythms. Those films were made in the 40s. Later he
> abandoned that music and would show the films with random records or
> even the radio. Twenty years later, Harry Smith asked Jonas Mekas to
> print the films with new music, claiming that they were made for
> contemporary music, and new audiences needed new contemporary music.
> Jonas went down to the store and picked out the newest big thing: Meet
> the Beatles. In that spirit, I think it would be fine to show the
> films with the radio, or with techno, or anything that comes along.
> When Mystic Fire released the video, they added a Teijo Ito track.
> Interesting how someone who spent a good part of his life collecting
> and curating music never seemed to worry much about the sound for his
> films.
> -Pip Chodorov
>> When I was teaching, a long time ago, I sometimes would show the
>> whole rental print of "Early Abstractions" with the sound, and then
>> many sections or the whole thing without the sound. I highly
>> recommend seeing it silent. This comparison is one of the best
>> demonstrations I know of Stan Brakhage's thesis that the rhythm of a
>> sound track tends to dominate the image. Seen silent these short
>> films are full of multiple rhythms. THe music greatly oversimplifies.
>> Maybe Harry Smith, having made them, was able to see the varied
>> rhythms of his films on their now, and the
>> music just functioned as an additional layer for him, but I don't
>> think that's what happens with most viewers.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.