Saturday, November 29, 2008

Picking up the Piece(s)

Where to from here?--The eternal question--What next?

I have a few ideas.

A few ideas:

1. Have an FM motive serving as the spine that changes, but almost imperceptibly, to serve as the armature and generate tension. Contrapuntal to this would be a granular harmony that is never static or repetitive and is ONLY composed of changing elements.

2. Have a granular motive that appears to change very, very little. Would serve the same purpose as the FM motive in the previous idea: to generate tension and carry the piece. Have an FM motive that would be nothing but change. The FM motive would be the primary melody.

Problems with these two ideas: there is not enough overall change, simply an extended contrast of two distinct layers. How can we move toward a compelling climax? How can we continue to change?


I really need to do more research into FM and granular synthesis, create a few mini-experiments, and find my central idea, before I can nail down anymore what exactly I want to do.


So many of my DXARTS projects are self-reflexive. Only a while after have I been able to apply what I've learned and generate something that exists without being self-consciously aware of what it is, without being a direct response to what it is. But isn't all great art by nature, aware of what it is? Isn't it through this awareness that it is able to transcend past nearsightedness? By being aware of itself, by knowing fully what it is, can it know what it is capable of. And by knowing what it is capable of, it can become, realize that capability.

But all of this flows out of knowing. Knowing flows out of doing. Doing flows out of knowing.


That's my generative idea. Badda-bing.

Listening to: Mozart's String Quartet No. 1

Lessons of Suckness*

I'm going to transcribe the notes from my midterm critique, and then I'll add some additional thoughts to that before segueing into a rumination on starting my sound synthesis final.


NOVEMBER 12, 2008:

..."Our brain focuses on the thing that changes"...pitch/amplitude/rhythmic variations keep the thing active in our ears

..."Below sure you want the sound"...

See Grisset re different orderings of the same pitch

Developing a little bit to the point that you feel like it should be developing, but static to the point that you don't feel the development. Doesn't develop enough nor is it static enough.

Don't be afraid to start layering earlier.

I think I approached this project with a lot of big ideas that were dealt with very simply. What I should have done is choose a small idea, and develop it with complexity.
It was also missing something underneath--like an armature. Some spine that the piece could rest on, be supported by.
Also, I introduced too many 'characters' who change very little. The first phrase and the subsequent phrases are not one character going through changes, but separate characters going through little change. They are all introduced over a period of time that is too long. And they change very little.
In other words, I didn't scale my 'cast' to the parameters of the piece. Too many characters, not enough change, nor were they used effectively.
What did I learn? I learned that structure is useless if it's hollow. Structure cannot be compelling in and of itself, it can only carry something that is.
But all that is a-okay! Because guys, I learned something today. I learned that while structure may carry story, and story may carry character, and armature may carry structure, YOUR CHARACTERS CARRY AUDIENCE.


'Character carries audience' is probably my most profound realization, the most applicable epiphany I could have gotten out of that project/critique. It's an incredibly simple idea, but deceptively so. And one that I've 'known' for as long as I've tried to be a writer/filmmaker--but until you make the mistake of not using this concept, it's really difficult to see precisely how profound it can revitalize your work--and how pervasive a failure your project can become if neglected. In my case, it's really taken 20+ short films/videos/animations, dozens of short stories and plays, a 'bell study' plus this one, educational-if-not-representational midterm sound synthesis project to really, really realize the ramifications of such a simple statement.

Character carries audience.

Apart from that little insight, it didn't help things that I was lacking in an idea to communicate, or an emotion to evoke, or an experience to generate. I just wanted to apply what I knew about story structure to sound/music and see what would happen. Lesson: not much. There is the appearance of structure, but none of the affect. At its worst, structure is an excuse. At its best, structure is a vehicle that clarifies, refines, strengthens, and ultimately enables your idea(s) to be received and, ideally, comprehended by your audience. Of course, structure can't make a bad idea good, nor can it stand in for that good idea.

Structure gives form to content. And both rest on this concept of the armature--premise--thesis--concept.

Thesis + Content + Form = Expression.


Some other misc notes:

Find a way to use the same motif you establish without actually repeating it, or the same internal logic/structural logic...Then you can invert it or make other variations and it will sound completely different.

Sketch more specifically your formal ideas, gestures, notes, phrases, relationships.


Loud ==> Quiet
Slow ==> Fast
Low ==> High
Left ==> Right ==> Center

Let go and see musically where you can go with the software

Be aware of musical time / minute changes

IOW in ONE area, like simple phrase repetitions, these are not changes that are captivating.

Use your imagination! What music do you like? STEAL IT!

Some repetition ideas:
not abcdefgabcdefgabcdefg = boring (this is more or less what i did)

There is no need to literally go back to something you've done before, just to create closure.

REPETITION not 'replication'. difference

Thoughts on elements:

Spine: a rhythmic pattern underlying everything; this supports the piece

Motive A: Primary point of expression

Motive B: Counterpoint, secondary expression

Where these(^) run parallel, where they intersect, are the relationships that the 'story' arc should be built upon.

Parallelisms create symmetry, harmony. The movement from this(^) to this(v) is where the tension lies. Perpendicularities/intersections create conflict.


Forget about emotions ATM and focus on how sounds are shaped, developed and interrelated.

The first two seconds of a piece tells you everything it's about...


*Very tenuously ripped-off of Herzog's 'Lessons of Darkness'

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Obama Day

In honor of tomorrow/today*:

*not an original

Blog of no content

In addition to the below sound project (due Nov. 10), I also have a proposal due for my final project in the physics class I'm taking right now: Light and Color. My final project can be a research paper into any of the material we've touched on (give me a break) or it can be an artwork that explores and experiments with some of the topics we've learned (break me off a piece!).

I'm dead certain my project will be a video, hopefully HD. What little film I have is too precious -- I'm saving that for my general studies thesis -- and as much as I love my PD150 and the DVX100, it's time to step it up a little bit. You know, "experiment"? I have access to an HVX100, in theory at least, through my department's research center CARTAH. But whereas it was once possible to get any of their pretty stellar equipment through a simple go-through-the-motions application process, it has become bafflingly difficult to get access to their equipment now. At any rate, I at least need a mini-proposal to submit to them in order to maybe obtain access, so I need to get a jump on that, as submitting my Cartah app by Monday (when my Phys prop is due) is getting a little too late for comfort.

The initial proposal involves: identifying a subject or theme (optics/lenses), where I will obtain information and materials, what exactly I will produce. Fairly straightforward.

But beyond that, the snag I hit is on -- as ALWAYS -- the fucking "what"? And by that, I don't mean "film or video or photograph or painting", I mean "what the fuck is this thing going to be about?" One thing I look forward to after I graduate, is not having to create an idea to suit a project, but instead having to create a project to suit an idea. Which is exactly as it should be. However, having a skill such as that is likely useful in the sink-or-swim world of professional filmmaking.

I, of course, want to continue my movement into narrative filmmaking, especially after all of the play- and screenwriting I've done in the past few months. So drumming up a story that isn't overly ambitious, but just enough so, in order to encourage me to continue to move toward self-experimentation. Shooting high-def will get me halfway there. The scope of the project will be the other half. Naturally, I also hope to work with actors -- but do I really have time to audition for this thing? Jan is always reliable and down for a little guerrilla videomaking, but whether or not I need a more professional performance or I can use my old friend will and should depend wholly on the content of my piece.

Content. That word, it seems to be continually resurfacing. Interesting.