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23 MAY 2015

Improvisational style of Birdman's percussion-centred soundtrack

"The soundtrack to the 2014 Alejandro González Iñárritu-directed black comedy Birdman features an innovative, percussion-based score from Grammy Award-winning jazz drummer Antonio Sanchez. Also included on the soundtrack are various classical pieces used in the film including compositions by Gustav Mahler, Maurice Ravel, and Sergei Rachmaninov. While Sanchez is primarily known as a jazz musician, he took a more free-form, avant-garde approach for Birdman. Rather than composing pieces for the film, at Iñárritu's request, Sanchez improvised to a rough cut of the film and then re-recorded his improvisations yet again once the film was completed. Hoping to match the gritty, live aesthetic of the film, Sanchez altered his traditional percussion set-up, employing instead the use of different drum heads modified at times with tape to deaden the sound and even attached items to his cymbals to achieve a less pristine, more broken quality. Iñárritu even went so far as to have percussionist (and Sanchez' friend) Nate Smith appear in the film playing along to Sanchez' soundtrack, which was recorded to sound like it was being played in the actual scene. The result is a highly creative, sonically varied soundtrack that matches the quirky, conceptual nature and dramatic tension of Iñárritu's film."

(Matt Collar, allmusic.com)

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2014 • Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu • Amy Ryan • Andrea Riseborough • Antonio Sanchez • Batman (1989) • Birdman (2014) • black comedy • BLT Communications • broken quality • cymbalsdramatic tension • Edward Norton • Emma Stone • faded glory • formalist design aesthetics • free-form approach • Gustav Mahler • improvisational musical style • jazz drummer • live aesthetic • Maurice Ravel • Michael Keaton • motion typeNaomi Watts • opening credits • opening titlespercussionPierrot le Fou (1965) • Raymond Carver • score • Sergei Rachmaninov • single shot style • soundtracktitle sequence designtypography • Zach Galifianakis

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
22 SEPTEMBER 2011

Lost tapes of the Dr Who composer

"Delia Derbyshire was working in the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop in 1963 when she was given the score for a theme tune to a new science fiction series.

She turned those dots on a page into the swirling, shimmering Doctor Who title music – although it is the score's author, Ron Grainer, who is credited as the composer.

Now David Butler, of Manchester University's School of Arts, Histories and Cultures has revealed for the first time the existence of 267 tapes found in Ms Derbyshire's attic when she died in 2001.

They were, until last March, in the safekeeping of Mark Ayres, archivist for the Radiophonic Workshop – and have lain unheard for more than 30 years."

(Nigel Wrench, 18 July 2008, BBC NEWS)

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1963 • archivist • authorshipBBCBBC Radiophonic Workshopcomposercultural heritageDelia DerbyshireDoctor Who • Manchester University • Mark Ayres • music compositionpioneerpioneering womenRadiophonic Workshop • Ron Grainer • science fictionscore • shimmering • soundtrackswirling • tapes • televisiontheme tunetitle musicUKwomen in historywomen in music

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
18 AUGUST 2006

Pre-digital binary flickering: Arnulf Rainer by Peter Kubelka

"In the creation of the sound film named after the Viennese artist Arnulf Rainer, Peter Kubelka used four strips of different material: blank film, black film, perforated magnetic tape with recorded white noise,[1] and blank perforated magnetic tape. Thus, the film consists of the four different elements of light, darkness, noise, and silence, and these are audiovisual correspondences, given that white noise, like white light, contains all of the frequency components of the spectrum with a constantly even amplitude. Like the motion picture, the film's sound exists in its two extremes. Presence and absence in stroboscopic alternation substitute for the representational function of the film and transform it into an event. In the process, the illusion of cinematographic motion is made visible: the interpolation of the eye between the flashing frames as a condition for the fusion of the individual images into a continuous movement. This physiological sensory process usually goes unnoticed, but given contrastive alternating stimuli is now experienced in the form of afterimages on the retina.

However, with this irritation, by means of which the visual perceptive apparatus is cast back into its own physiology, Kubelka is not merely formulating a critique of the apparently self-evident conditionlessness of the unhindered gaze,[2] but is at the same time demonstrating his emphatic notion of film as rhythm. Here, film becomes a metric art form, for the projection speed of twenty-four images per second sets the primary pulse and is thus the underlying meter for the interdependence of sound and image. It is above all in the form of varying relations in synchronicity that the principle of metric film becomes evident, as the score for the light and sound events in Arnulf Rainer demonstrates. The image and film frames are complementary, virtually counterpunctually contrasted in microstructural motifs, from which varying macrostructures can be derived. This evidences a conceptual propinquity to the musical principle of developing variation—sound and image are structured audiovisually as two voices. Arnulf Rainer is thus less a transfer of certain formal elements of music into the fine arts in the sense of a formation of structural analogy and more a structural identity of sound and image that in this form can only be demonstrated in the medium of sound film."

(See This Sound)

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1960 • 24 fps • Arnulf Rainer (1960) • Austrian filmmakeravant-garde cinemaavant-garde film makerbinary • binary flickering • black and whitedigitalexperimental film • flicker • formal work • now moment • Peter Kubelka • pre-digital • pre-digital works • rhythmrule-based workscoresequential compositionsolid light filmsstrobingtension and releasevisual abstractionvisual pattern
05 JANUARY 2004

Volumetric Notation: National Theatre of Japan

"Hypothesis: How to deconstruct opera and architecture so as to 'think' their concepts and simultaneously to observe them from an external and detached point of view? How to devise a configuration of concepts which is systematic and irreducible, that each concept intervenes at some decisive moment of the work? How to question the unity of a building without re–course either to a composition of articulated and formalised elements or to a random accumulation of isolated programmatic fragments? To play on limits without being enclosed within limits? To relate to other operas while referring only to one's own? Juxtaposition We have therefore abandoned traditional rules of composition and harmony, replacing them with an organisation based on breaking apart the traditional components of theatre and opera house and developing a new 'tonality' or 'sound'. No more artful articulations between auditorium, stage, foyer, grand staircase; in–stead, a new pleasure through the parallel juxtaposition of indeterminate cultural meanings, as opposed to fixed historicist practices. Functional constraints are not translated into a composition of symbolic units, but are extrapolated into a score of programmatic strips, analogous to the lines of a musical score, each containing the main activities and related spaces."

(Bernard Tschumi, 1987)

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Bernard Tschumicompositionfragmentharmonyhistoricistjuxtaposition • National Theatre of Japan • operaPapadakisprogrammescoretheatre
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