Nov 042017

My essay Quiet Cinema was published sometime after I completed a couple of feature film projects in Finland. I was the Composer and Sound Designer for Mika Rantonen’s And White Was The Night, and much of the quiet, subtle audio-visual techniques and aesthetic styles of Quiet Cinema emerged from this very film, where I had the practical pleasure of experimenting with music and sound to formulate the principle ideas for my book.

Some of the proposed tools of Quiet Cinema had already physically emerged organically in the post production process of And White Was The Night, such as the techniques of Audio Opacity, Counterpoint, Asynchronism, Dissonance, and Audio Framing.

Below is another film I did the sound and music for in Finland with Mika Rantonen, which develops further on the ideas discussed in the book Quiet Cinema, such as Sound Leitmotiv, The Economy of Sound, and Transitional Diegesis.

Read more about sound design and music for film in the book Quiet Cinema. Buy it now from Zarathustra Books and other bookstores.

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Nov 022017

“Quietness is the unspoken word; the wind in the trees; the tragic loneliness of the father peeling an apple at the end of Ozu’s Late Spring (1949); the pause after the two notes in the Jaws Theme in which the length of each diminishing musical rest is equal to the distance between the shark and its victim. Quietness is a break or pause that creates unresolved tensions; the blank screen before the film begins; the silence in-between two actions; the empty landscape waiting for a person to arrive – quietness appears within the limits of human expectation. Quietness is anticipation: a forest without birdsong may evoke the presence of a large animal; a kitchen without a refrigerator hum may evoke the presence of an intruder. Quietness is withholding: In Herzog’s Grizzly Man (2005), the director listens to a tape containing the sounds of Timothy the Grizzly Man being eaten alive by a bear – Herzog’s concluding words ‘you must never listen to this’ confirms our horror while we waited in quietness. Quietness is a dynamic which only becomes apparent when associated with other sounds or silence: in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), cutting from inside and outside the spaceship reveals the infinite black universe as truly silent, while inside, much to our absent-mindedness of monotonous sound, we hear room tone. Only after sound ceases, does previously unacknowledged noise become apparent. Quietness is distance: In Tarkovsky’s Solaris (1972), after a dreamy levitation scene on board a spaceship, a Pieter Brueghel painting is accompanied by quiet voices diluted by long reverberations like in a distant painting gallery, and in his film The Sacrifice (1986) a lonely Swedish island is continuously underscored by a quiet ship’s horn and a woman singing from afar. Quietness is a mode of listening; a filtered coherence; a refinement of sound in which we can decipher the quartertones amongst the clash of other instruments in an orchestra, or when listening to long reverberations of a church bell the quiet ear identifies hidden sub-harmonics and overtones consisting of intervals an octave, fifth and minor third apart from the nominal note. I see quietness and stillness as a presence, not an absence, and everything else leans on them: sounds give structure to silence; dialogue accentuates pauses; movements weigh on stasis; information shapes the unknown. Quietness is tension and release – it is dissonance and consonance. The filmmakers who knew how to cultivate this type of quietness, did the one thing least expected of filmmaking: they shut their eyes – and their films resembled what they saw in darkness.”
Extract from the book Quiet Cinema

Can you identify all the movies in the trailer?
Below is a video trailer for the book Quiet Cinema, exclusive to danny

Quiet Cinema
– 9780993338649

A study in the poetics of audio dynamics, Quiet Cinema strives to cultivate the timbre of film sound. Arguing that cinema had made a mistake by misinterpreting the soundtrack, the author asks: ‘what kind of a filmmaker would I be had the silent era completed its task before the arrival of sound?’. Exploring the lost secrets of audio-visual language by proposing quiet tools such as audio framing, audio opacity, and sound leitmotiv, this visionary essay revisits the films of Tati, Bresson, Tarkovsky, Hitchcock, Dreyer, Buñuel and others in search of quietness.

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Nov 012017

“I hear an Alpine symphony of raw noise. How aesthetic natural sound can be! – Every little vibration entirely uncultivated and wild. I hear the flap of several bird wings disperse like an ocean spray as a distant train from a small mountain station startles them. I hear a faint running stream accompany the tones of the noon bell – barely audible, distinguished only because of its sharper frequency. Unlike the evenly spaced notes of manmade compositions, the music of the wind has a rich chromaticism, swirling thinly like a whispering choir. The bird song too is far from human melody – it is a highly dissonant, arpeggiated cluster, screeching with little dynamic variety. The overall combinations of these sounds create a harmonic suspension – a relentless musical tension exposing my ears to a series of prolonged unfinished cadences with no resolution.”
Extract taken from The Noon Bell

The Noon Bell was written in 2016 in Scuol, a small village in the Engadine Valley. Below is a recording of the same noon bell, goat bells and sounds of the Swiss region which inspired the creation of my book. Taking my microphone to the mountain station Prui, to the alpine village of Guarda, on the trains to St. Moritz, and around the lake Tarasp, I recorded and composed this musical sound design to bring the reader closer to the Alps.

The Noon Bell
– 9780993338632

A quiet study of sound, smell and daydreaming, The Noon Bell explores the delights and fears of remembering and forgetting. Written in twelve aphoristic chapters and told during the twelve resonant chimes of a village church bell, an Alpine region of Switzerland sets the scene in this poetic and philosophical short story about the search for a recurrent dream.

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