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Barry Brown


(silent cinema) or the lazy fitter

by Barry Brown

This article was originally published in the Melbourne Super Eight Group Newsletter, Special 100th Issue, March 1995.

aurality, its nature and function within the cinematic hierarchy, has been endlessly documented, triggering cat-calls and fisticuffs as technology, aesthetics and capital argued the validity of such combinations and the types of combinations. sadly, standardisation of sonic material was long enforced before the development of sound stripes, the dominant theatres equipped with orchestra pits bellowing popular tunes and hacked classics recommended as suitable accompaniment. generally soundtracks continue to be assigned a secondary role.

imagined early cinema screenings, prior to the codification of sonic elements are a constant inspiration in my approach to soundscapes, complete with miscued entrances, missing piano keys, bum improvisations, and numerous drunken and ill-prepared attachments – i am not interested in the re-duplication or the faithful restaging of such imaginary soundtracks but rather incorporating such hazards and uncertainties within the compositional process, retaining the division of presentation and the variable, interchangeable nature of such sonic constructs.

the aural component of four pitches for saxophone, (4 mins, 1994), performed by chuan Lim is a continuing exploration into such relationships. actually comprising 5 pitches the score simply states ‘each pitch to be held as long as possible, to utilise any register and not to be concerned with playing in tune’. from the initial 15 minute configuration, three four-minute sections were selected and layered applying a variety of time distortion techniques. a number of indeterminacies arose from varying durations and pitch inconsistencies and variable layering from the initial source material allows random combinations prior or during screening.

although varying degrees of consonance and dissonance occur, the merging of sound and image, points of collapse, i am not interested in highlighting rhythmic relationships nor a-synchronisation but rather a series of non and/or a-opposing spaces, a continual foregrounding of sound and image where it is (hopefully) just as easy to shut one's ears as one's eyes.

See also
Industrial Vesper #11

Barry Brown, March 1995.

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Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis