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Mountains & Deserts

Friday, July 29, 2011

The True Secret Behind Writing Music for Film or… Silence and Meaning

It seems that in today’s world of film more and more filmmakers try to force emotional drama on the viewer. Rather than taking the time to collaborate with the set crew or develop plot transitions with tension and beautiful cinematography, one usually gets spoon-fed a series of over-baked, wimpy snippets of music that completely shatter the purpose of a film’s meaning. Don’t these people ever consider working with other artists involved in the production?  If you’re tired of constantly having your film experience ruined by loud, inappropriate, or out of place music you’re not alone. Here’s an insightful excerpt from Polish composer Zbigniew Priesner on the creative relationship between music and film. It’s taken from the companion disc to the film The Double Life of Veronique (1991).
[“We must always keep in mind that the truly creative work of a film involves each of us creating the film while knowing that in the end there is a director, and even more importantly, a story. We contribute what we feel we should give of ourselves to [a] film. This would seem obvious, but nowadays it’s really not. Nobody talks about this today. When I try to speak about meaning with directors and producers, they really don’t get it. A composer writes music for a film, and in my opinion, it’s the function and role of the composer to add something the audience doesn’t see: the atmosphere of the film. It’s very metaphysical…
When I write music… I take into consideration not why to have music and where it goes, but why I should write it and what purpose it serves. Should it be some kind of narrative or anticipation? Or should it reveal something we don’t generally see but can feel?
There are twenty-two minutes of music in The Double Life of Veronique. There was mainly silence throughout, but this silence echoed loudly. Music introduced us to the mood, and silence was a respite from it. The silence meant more than the music. Today, in movies where music plays from start to finish, you never notice any variation. If there’s a short-break you think, ‘thank God, a breather.’ And then, it starts up again!
Directors and producers have no faith in their films. They don’t believe the story is strong enough to be told using music as one of the various means of artistic expression, as art, not just as a kind of wallpaper…[Film Director Krzysztof  ] Kieslowski used to say, ‘For what’s different to seem different, there has to be a difference.’ ]


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Worthy Summer Presentations

Variable Density Thinning Finland, MN

As Minnesota's rural economies struggle during the economic downturn, communities look to maximize their resources. The state's abundant forests present both opportunities and challenges, and hard decisions need to be made to ensure productivity and environmental legacy. A Co-production of TPT and the Charles K. Blandin Foundation.

Yellow Birch Regen Finland, MN
 The world’s religions are seriously engaging in work to address ecological and social concerns related to climate change. How are faith communities responding to climate concerns, and what do their ethical and moral perspectives add to scientific approaches to climate change? This webinar will provide information about:

- History, trends, and tensions in faith community response to climate change
- Religious teachings and moral imperatives about climate change and environmental stewardship
- Engaged projects within faith communities as examples of response in action

White Pine Germinants After Fire Deer River, MN

The Shutdown Back Page... or How to Pick Up the Pieces of My Broken Heart

Perhaps its a memory, perhaps it's a dream. Here goes my MN State Government shutdown... in twenty bullets:

• Spent many hours preparing for the shutdown prior to July 1st including the forced cancellation of three regional, interdisciplinary and interagency ecological forestry field workshops. Dozens of hours wasted preparing for these. Forecast gloomy, overcast. Clenched fist.

• Despite being laid-off, went on planned vacation to Canada. Left during the sweltering evening heat of the Forth of July. Missed the fireworks. Hairball.. are you serious? Even less adventurous at the border crossing much to our surprise. Happy Trails!

• Enjoyed nature/biking, the BEST international music festival in North America, and the wonderful Manitoba culture. Voted best people once again in 2011!

• Ate vegan salads, burgers, and burritos. Lost 5 pounds.

• Witnessed the reunited Jayhawks w/Mark Olson and Karen Grotberg. Lamented the poor sound quality and lack of song selections from the 1997-2003 era. What? I know! Appreciated hearing Wichita (opener), Two Hearts, Red's Song, Black-Eyed Susan, and Lights. Still no Pray for Me however. New album to be released in September.

• Kept BW Trout on his toes most mornings with a bike ride/swim.  Talkin punk rock blues with the kids, goofy nitrous sounds, NOFX? What about Fugazi  ya hammerheads.Where's the official photos?

• Prairie Heat. Mini-Break. Big Rock Beverage.

• Didn't get Kristen's phone number, email, or facebook address. What was I thinking? Did agree to read and watch Guy Maddin's, "My Winnipeg" though.
• Camped and consulted with Red Green. Basking in the glow of the nightly paper birch fire.

• Jeff Tweedy closes with an intimate acoustic set of Wilco and solo selections. Impressive. Many folks missed it.

• Still no budget deal. Questioned at the US Border about my employment. Agents very surprised that MN DNR not working. Huh? Hopeful that agreement will be worked out. It's now ten days. Thinking about the Rut’s and Black Flag. Planning on contributing to the Staging the Future Capital Campaign and to membership with KAXE once again.

• Rear brakes went out on the SUV. Beginning to deplete the savings account. Worried about finances. No job to be found. Bills to pay.

• Had dinner with parents and cousins in Duluth but missed nephew's baseball tournament. Have to conserve on fuel. Applied for un-enjoyment insurance. First time in twenty years.

Blessed Kateri Tekawitha Day. Much needed adoration and prayer time w/Jesus and Mary.

•  Depressed...gained 5 pounds. Haven't sold the cabin yet. Getting desperate. Avoiding foreclosure a must.

• Read several books including the gripping adventure "Theodore Roosevelt's Darkest Journey: The River of Doubt" by Candice Millard. Here’s a sample,

"Compounding the misery wrought by the rain was an overarching sense of isolation and uncertainty, a feeling that was magnified by strange noises that shattered the forest's silence and set the men's nerve on edge. That afternoon, as Roosevelt and the men in dugout paddled quitely down the river, a long, deep shriek suddenly ripped through the jungle. It was the roar of a howler monkey, one of the loudest cries of any animal on earth. The sound, which can be heard from three miles away, is formed when the monkey  forces air through its large, hollow hyoid bone, which sits between its lower jaw and the voice box and anchors the tongue. The result is a deep, resonating howl that vibrates through the forest with strange, inhuman intensity and echoes so pervasively that its location can be nearly impossible to identify.
Worse even than the noises they could recognize were those that none of them could explain. These strange sounds, which disappeared as quickly as they came and were a mystery even to those who knew the rain forest best, had made a strong impression on the British naturalist Henry Walter Bates fifty years earlier. 'Often, even in the still hours of midday, a sudden crash will be heard resounding afar through the wilderness, as some great bough or entire tree falls to the ground,' the naturalist wrote. 'There are, besides many sounds which it is impossible to account for. I found the natives generally as much at a loss in this respect as myself. Sometimes a sound is heard like the clang of an iron bar against a hard, hollow tree, or a piercing cry rends the air; these are not repeated, and the succeeding silence tends to heighten the unpleasant impression which they make on the mind." pgs 156-157.
                                                                           It’s really unfortunate what happened to Kermit.

• Went on a few bike rides along the North Shore. HOT! Parks Closed. Contemplate, reflect. Need a new plan for my life. Resurrect the Backwater-Spotlight?

• Day 18… hints of a “lights-on” budget agreement. I’m skeptical. I tell myself, “avoid Jerry Springer, avoid Jerry Springer”, etc. Worried more about MN families and the poor. My situation pales in comparison to those who really are suffering due to this ungrateful impasse. Quickly remind myself how my local property taxes went from $150 to $590. That’s fair…. right?

• Day 19… Got my work start-up call. How to pick up the pieces? How to salvage a summer field season? Feeling helpless about all aspects of my work.

 • I'll raise you a twenty...