Film/musical composition ; 2003 ; Duration 5:26
Composer: Allan Schindler
The spiral-like structure and unbroken momentum of this film/musical composition are somewhat suggestive to the artists of intersecting streams (or 'ribbons') or time. The concept is not simply the familiar (although perhaps illusory) linear 'march' of clock time, but rather a nexus in which backwards time (e.g., dreams, recollections and deja vu), parallel temporalities, and the non-contiguous splicing together of segments of time are equally prominent and "real."
The principal sound sources of the music are generic samples (digitized recordings) of instrumental and vocal tones and of environmental sounds such as ice cubes and ping pong balls. However, in resynthesis the spectral structures (tones colors) of these sounds often have been retooled and their attack and decay articulations have been altered. The visuals are animations and manipulations of hand-painted 35mm motion picture film, small objects and liquid mixtures that are extensively interwoven and layered in digital post production.
MP3 audio excerpt
This excerpt is taken from the very end of the work, and includes the concluding visual credits (beginning at 1:18 in the excerpt). I have chosen this excerpt because the concluding credits passage contains some of my favorite music in the work, which to me encapsulates the original concept of the piece, but rarely will I get to hear this music in screenings on film festivals.
Perhaps the most notable of many differences that Stephanie and I have encountered in typical responses to our works between concert audiences and film audiences is that concert audiences almost never begin applauding during the concluding credits, while the music is still winding its way to a conclusion or is introducing a final twist. (Would one begin applauding during the coda of the last movement of a Beethoven symphony?) By contrast, film audiences, even at experimental film programs, apparently still tend to view (sic) the music as "post-production." The custom, if one wishes to express enjoyment of or approval for a work, is to burst into applause as soon as the credits begin. Not to do so seems to imply that one did not really like the piece all that much, or is not paying attention.
One of the timbral techniques I employed most frequently in this piece was frequency shifting -- detuning the frequency spectrum (and thus the timbre) of sounds by adding (or subtracting) a fixed frequency value, in herz, from all of the frequency components of a source sound. A variety of the bamboo flute-like sounds that pervade this work (e.g. 0:08 through 0:19, 0:28 through 0:35 and 0:49 through 1:00 in the excerpt) were generated in this manner, as well as the "crazy violins" (solo 0:43 through 0:48, "ensemble" 1:01 through 1:07) and vocal-like sounds (1:10 through 1:17).
Little pleasures (an in-joke between Stephanie and me) : Late one night, while initially mapping out the imagery to be used at the beginning of this excerpted passage, Stephanie plopped in a forward rushing triangular image in the lower right corner of the screen to coincide with the one second percussive upbeat crescendo and roar heard at 7 seconds into the excerpt. Her intention was to replace this "temp" image with something more abstract and, um ..., "imaginative" when time permitted. However, when we previewed this first-pass footage, it gave us a good laugh, visually and aurally bringing to mind an express train whizzing through the middle of a local New York subway station, momentarily creating a head-numbing vaccuum followed by a showering cloud of dust, grime and assorted subway crud. It was the type of image that prompts one to ask, "What the hell was that?", even when one knows what that was. And so, the triangle stayed. Nothing else would do.
Stephanie Maxwell teaches film, video and animation courses at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her experimental animated films have been exhibited in film festivals and on television internationally, and collected as works of art by European and American museums.
Time Streams was premiered on the April 19 and 26 programs of the 2003 ImageMovementSound festival in Rochester, New York. It has become the most frequently performed film/music composition that Stephanie and I have created, with over 50 international performances as of May, 2005, including:
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