Re: Heaven and Earth Magic

From: andrew lampert (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Aug 25 2006 - 18:42:47 PDT


Anthology is almost finished preserving Harry Smithís
Film No. 12, the Heaven and Earth Magic Feature. Like
many of Harryís films, there was no spliced original
for H+E (Read the book American Magus to learn about
other works that he trashed or sadly somehow lost).
The earliest existing material for H+E is a mag stripe
sound reversal 16mm print. Back in the day Harry and
Jonas Mekas made a reversal printing master for the
picture and a separate optical soundtrack. There has
never been a negative. We are currently producing one
from that original print. It will look and sound
great. This project is funded by the National Film
Preservation Foundation and Cineric, Inc. in NYC is
doing the lab work. A new print should be at the
Film-Makerís Coop in a matter of a few months.

Harry made the soundtrack for No. 12. I didnít
realize what an amazing piece of musique concrete it
is until a few years ago. Rani Singh, of the Harry
Smith Archive, and M. Henry Jones performed the film
at Anthology in its extended version using original
slides and filters from Harry to engulf the projected
image. The darker filters obscured the film so much
that, for me, the soundtrack came to the foreground.
The film seems to have pretty good sync, but in
reality there is also some great chance operation at
play. Rani doesnít know how he composed the track and
neither do I other than to say that he made it with
magnetic tape. Not sure if Jonas knows, but should
definitely find out. It would be great to put the
soundtrack on CD. I think it stands up on its own.

There are prints of Early Abstraction with Meet The
Beatles, but he also sometimes used the first Fugs
album (which he recorded). The soundtrack on the
Mystic Fire Video for Early Abstractions is by Maya
Derenís husband, Teiji Ito. Never heard about
Coltrane! I almost think that Ornette would have been
a better accompaniment. Deerhoof recently played
their own soundtrack for it at the San Francisco Film
Festival which Iíve yet to hear.

For me, the perfect soundtrack for No. 12 is by Harry
Smith. As this is the one film for which he actually
composed the soundtrack I feel like it should be
respected. When it comes to EA pretty much anything
syncs up even if he supposedly composed the first 3
films to specific pieces of music by Dizzy Gillespie.
The Iota Center made a print of No. 3 a few years ago
with Manteca as the track. Itís pretty great. I get
a sense that there is more of a pulse rather than
rhythm with EA and that most things would seem or feel
in sync. John Zorn has performed live soundtracks for
it with the likes of Milford Graves and Ikue Mori. At
Anthology, I believe we vacillate between playing it
with the Beatles track and silent in the Essential
Cinema screenings. Gotta dig the Beatles trackÖ


--- Hu Stone <email suppressed> wrote:

> Hi
> Can anyone shed some light on the soundtrack of
> Harry
> Smith's "Heaven and Earth Magic". I've noticed the
> prints out there (maybe the video from Mystic Fire
> too) have a soundtrack and I'm pretty damn sure its
> not the beatles or butthole surfers... Did Smith
> create it himself? It's been years since I've
> seen/heard it - thankyou in advance. Hu
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