This morning I got up early & raced into town to see Werner Herzogs new doco LO AND BEHOLD, which was excellent – funny, profound and very thought provoking about the role of the internet past, present & future. Coincidentally when I got home the power was off = no internet!
Last night a big northerly storm arrived & it was still blowing a gale today, but about the time I came home from the screening coincided with high tide, and I was greeted with this as I drove around the waterfront:
Debris washed up on to the road.. and the waves were breaking right up onto the road!!
Of course I went home, grabbed some lunch & my 722 recorder & mics & camera… The ocean was fierce, but the wind meant the sound of the waves was very diffuse & not so interesting…
But the wind was fairly shreiking in the rigging of all the yachts in the boat club car park, so I left my 722 recorder rolling for half an hour while I went off & took photos….
Couldn’t help but wonder how it might sound, pitched down two octaves… & filtered…
Kinda retro/almost archival sub Antarctic doco sounding?
My neighbour Dave had also told me about an interesting sound he’d heard ages ago, so I went to see if I could find it. On the beach side there is a drain vent:
The drain runs under the road & into a covered concrete culvert, and eventually emerges 50m away – by the entrance to Karehana Bay park:
So I put my pair of MKH8040s on to a boom and had a listen to the quite freaky sounds coming from inside there, have a listen:
Wow – its almost like a blowhole, like distant explosions! As it was high tide, the beach vent was almost underwater, so I’ll have to try another recording mid tide…
I’ve had three different threads of ideas crossover in different ways today – all related, but from different angles… In reverse order, this from Marc at Disquiet made me smile:
I’m very sure you could do the exact same with film scores – in fact it is the curse of the temp score. With the film I recently scored, One Thousand Ropes, I was blessed that the director did not want a temp score at all – he was happy to edit without music until such time as original music was available. Comparatively I worked on a film (as sound designer) a few years back where the temp score was so good the music editors had basically made it impossible for the poor composer to do better, borrowing from 50+ years of iconic film scores to pastiche a genius but irrepalceable score. So in some ways these are the extremes of references wth film scores, from zero(ish) to infinity!
Just now I was watching the ‘Making of’ for the UTP project by Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto & Ensemble Modern, and in part 2 Sakamoto nailed it (by ‘it’ I mean the deliberate choice to avoid references) – I will try & embed the right start point but if it doesn’t work, skip to 5’00”
This idea really appeals to me strongly: to attempt to create work with no pre-exisitng model or reference. Some would argue this is impossible, nothing is unprecedented… and I understand that. But the other extreme is sound-a-likes, as per Marcs gameshow, how close can you get without being sued? And could there be a worse way to spend your time & waste your unique creative ability… I appreciate some people like to practice emulating other peoples work to gain skills & experience (of a sort) but I fear that is like the covers band who say ‘one day we will get around to writing original music’
Of course everyone has influences & references – we are all the sum of our individual life experiences. And in many ways references are a means of clarifying the form a new project will take. Whether its a mood board, or a technique or even a technical process, when it comes to collaborators it can be a short cut to communicating abstract ideas. And such references vary in how evident they are in the final artwork. But if the references are very evident, one must wonder how original the work is…
The last coincidence was also voiced on Facebook: someone was deeply upset that a unique idea (to them) and which they had developed, had also been developed for a different platform by someone else. The (patronising) advice often given in such circumstances is that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” which as a phrase apparently dates back to 1820, so this is not a new problem.. although I think an earlier version from 1714 is closer to the truth: “Imitation is a kind of artless flattery”
Someone on that thread commented about an infamous similar occurrence, between two youtubers, and how one of them had created a video explaining their side of the story. Its worth a look if you’re interested in these ideas, its called “the Agonies of Parallel Creation” and in it, I detected a gradual shift in my own behaviour: that of unfollowing and completely avoiding exposure to some people (musicians, artists, film makers, creators, whatever) who I simply do not want to be influenced by. This seems like a simple idea, if the unfollow is due to simply not liking their work. For example, I do not want to be influenced whatsoever by the techniques used in Transforminator movies, so I simply do not see them – I have no exposure to them. But sometimes I find myself unfollowing people because I like their work, but as they are pursuing a similar vein to what I am exploring I do not want to be influenced by them – I do not want to know what they are currently doing. Then I am free to do whatever I choose to do, not because of them but also not in spite of them.
In this video, the bit I appreciated was at 2’30”
Sometimes ignorance (& freedom from references) is bliss!
So if you make stuff – music, sound, films, art – how much do you rely on references? I’ve read bits of that book that ableton released on solving music problems, and one bit of advice I remember was about starting a database of things you like, for example you hear a song that you like the bass synth in. Make a note in your database. Keep doing this with all and any aspects of music you like. So I can see how on one hand, this is invaluable advice to clarify what it is you aspire to do. And on the other hand it can generate the old film reference cliches of ‘this film script is like Betty Blue set in Mad Max” etc…
I signed up for the Werner Herzog Filmmaking Master Class today – more info here – I’d seen ads for Werner Herzogs class but wasn’t aware of the others eg you can do a tennis master class with Serena Williams or photography with Annie Leibovitz… Not so interested in the music offerings but hey, there’s no accounting for taste…