Music

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Food Music

Dinnerware, Eggs, and Wine Shatter and Seamlessly Repair in Dramatic Film by Optical Arts

July 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

A new short film by Optical Arts depicts what would be a dinner-party nightmare: ceramic plates and bowls shatter, red wine cascades from long-stemmed glasses, and sharp knives dive to the floor. Despite its explosive scenes, “Tocatta” subsequently shows the same dinnerware, drinks, and plates of boiled eggs seamlessly repair and float upward as whole objects.

A multivalent consideration of physical contact, the word “tocatta” both originates from an Italian form of “to touch” and refers to a musical composition designed to showcase the performer’s refined techniques. The reparative film is set to the opening section of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Toccata and Fuge in D Minor, one of the German composer’s most recognized works. Because of its discordant runs, the musical piece historically has been used in horror films, like Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931), Terence Fischer’s The Phantom of the Opera (1962), and Norman Jewison’s dystopic Rollerball (1975).

Written for organ, the eerie composition adds a foreboding element to the film. The dramatic piece explores “the nature of time, the relentless violence of entropy and creative energy and its relationship to music itself,” the London-based creative studio writes in a statement. Another nod to the iconic composer, the dark, opening scenes are shots from Eisenach, Germany, where Bach was born and lived for the first few years of his life.

To dive further into Optical Arts’ productions, head to Vimeo and Instagram. (via The Morning News)

Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the film as a CGI animation.

 

 

 



Music

An Open Pipeline Echoes This Inventive Saxophonist’s Notes in Perfectly Tuned Accompaniment

June 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Saxophonist Armin Küpper has mastered the effects of live looping without the necessary equipment to record and replay tracks. Instead, the musician heads to a nearby site storing a lengthy pipeline and positions his bell near the opening. As he plays, the delayed notes echo in perfect pitch, creating an polyphony as he blares out the next line. Check out more of Küpper’s tunes below, and head to YouTube to keep up with his inventive performances. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Music

2,292 Plants Fill the Audience in Opening Performance at Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu

June 23, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Gran Teatre del Liceu, shared with permission

This week, Barcelona’s Gran Teatre del Liceu held its first performance with a live audience post-coronavirus, but it’s unclear whether the attendees were too green to appreciate Puccini’s “Crisantemi.” Seated in the red, velvet seats and among the gold balconies, 2,292 palms, ficus trees, and Swish cheese plants filled the iconic opera house to listen to the string quartet’s rendition.

A collaboration with Madrid-based artist Eugenio Ampudia and the Max Estrella gallery, the concert was meant to reflect on humans’ relationship with nature. “I thought why don’t we go into the Liceu like weeds, take it over and let nature start growing everywhere and turn it into something alive even when there are no people,” Ampudia said in an interview. After the performance, the leafy audience members were donated to healthcare workers who have been battling the virus during the last few months.

 

 

 



Art Dance Music

A Dramatic Performance by Juilliard Students Brings a Socially Distant Approach to Ravel’s Boléro

May 4, 2020

Grace Ebert

Maurice Ravel’s Boléro is a particularly collaborative composition in that it passes the melodic theme through a series of solos. The sequential performances highlight the distinct tones and sounds of each instrument, whether it be a flute, violin, or the anomalous saxophone. In a spectacular new project, dozens of Juilliard students who now are quarantined in their respective homes bring a socially distant approach to the classic orchestral composition. What makes it especially impressive, though, is not just appearances by famous alumni—watch for Yo-Yo Ma, Laura Linney, Patti LuPone, and Itzhak Perlman—but because it coordinates the instrumental piece in addition to a range of dramatic and choreographed elements that appear to transcend individual frames.

In a statement about the project, Juilliard said the hundreds of video clips were filmed separately before being edited and overlayed into a single composition. “Bolero Juilliard, assembled by a team of artists all working from remote locations, is part narrative, part collage. Most of all, it is a collective endeavor that captures a snapshot of a specific global moment and the possibilities of creative connection in an uncertain world,” the school said. The assembled video is “a complex online puzzle with many components being conceived, rehearsed, and produced simultaneously.”

If you enjoyed Juilliard’s project, check out this music video filmed entirely on Zoom and these quarantine dispatches. (via Kottke)

 

 

 



Music Photography

A Touching Film Compiles Quarantine Dispatches from Around the Globe

April 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

Echoing each others’ sentiments of hope and optimism during uncertain times, the folks who contributed to a new short film have joined together despite being thousands of miles apart. “A Social Distance” is a collective look at global life during COVID-19 featuring dozens of people, ranging from a 93-year old Malayan grandmother to a 19-year old Slovenian man, from the 30 most-affected countries.

Directed by Ivan Cash and Jacob Jonas, the crowd-sourced project compiles clips of people’s hand-washing practices, their stocked and bare fridges, and emotional messages about their worries. Some dance to the original score played by various musicians from their respective homes. Despite its anxiety-producing subject matter, though, the compilation is surprisingly hopeful.

Find more work from Cash and Jonas on Vimeo. You also might like this wildly choreographed music video filmed entirely on Zoom.

 

 



Dance Music

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down Films a Synchronized Music Video on a Zoom Call

April 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

Zoom has been having its moment as many companies’ platform of choice for virtual meetings and conference calls, but Thao & the Get Down Stay Down recently found a more creative and amusing use for the digital communication tool. With its tour paused and everyone stuck at home, the Oakland-based band decided to shoot a music video for its new single, “Phenom,” that begins with Thao Nguyen, who leads the indie group, starting a Zoom call.

Centered on the singer, the two-and-a-half minute number features eight dancers who move in choreographed synchronicity across multiple screens. They appear to drip water onto each other and create a single, flexing figure throughout the video.

Nguyen recently told The Verge that the band rehearsed for five hours before taking a day to film the entire piece. Equipped with strong wifi connections, the group utilized a metronome before beginning to ensure they were all on the same beat. “Certain dance moves had to be adjusted to look good in Zoom’s gallery view and didn’t translate if they were too chaotic. We found that the moves had to be really clean and clear and simple. I had to be the focal point and if too much was happening you wouldn’t know exactly where to look,” she said.

Find more of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down’s visual work on Instagram and YouTube, and head to Spotify for a full album archive. (via Uncrate)

 

 



Music

Beatbox Like a World Champion with This 13-Step Tutorial by Butterscotch

April 12, 2020

Grace Ebert

Sure, you can spend your time during quarantine reading a dozen books or scrubbing your cabinets, but what about learning to beatbox from a world champion? Vocal percussionist Butterscotch recently released a 13-step tutorial that guides novices through various beatboxing techniques, from the basic baseline and snare—or what she calls Boots and Cats—all the way to singing and live looping. And for those who have a hard time keeping a beat, the musician even outlines a breathing technique that makes it easier to stay steady. Check out Butterscotch’s Instagram to keep up with her impressive musical projects. (via Kottke)