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Euphonic Coordination ~ Music Supervision

Strategizing background music for an exhibit video by artist Paolo Salvagione

Back in April I shared here the essay I wrote (“Addressing the Competition”) for an installation, titled “Competitive Swinging,” by artist Paolo Salvagione at the Headlands Center for the Arts in Marin County, just north of where I live in San Francisco. Following that project, Salvagione asked me to assist in adding a score to a video documenting an earlier exhibit of his also held at the Headlands, titled “An excuse to respond.”

The video is shot in a bright room and shows various works, most of which could broadly be described as sculptures, and all of which involve some sort of interaction on the part of the attendees. There are flip books, a kind of elevated hopscotch game, a pair of boots attached to large brushes, and, among other things, a kinetic sculpture about which I’ll have more to say in the future. All are infused with a wonderful mischievousness.

The pacing of the rough cut of the video brought to mind a metronomic pulse, which was also the subject of the “Competitive Swinging” essay. It seemed that a steady-paced work that slowly built but never got above a murmur would suit the visuals. Such music would aid in the momentum, never overpower the images, and match the clockwork motion that some of the works display. I also wanted to use a recent piece of music, so whoever ended up supplying the background tune would gain some promotional benefit. After listening through a lot of work by musicians whom I admire, and listening back through entries in this site’s Downstream department, I contacted the UK-based Grand Canonical Ensemble to inquire after “Summer Clothes,” a track off the album Saying Goodbye, which I wrote about back at the end of January. Back when I first heard “Summer Clothes,” it already had struck me as a kind of score to a movie that didn’t yet exist (I likened it to a more upbeat work by Ryuichi Sakamoto). Thanks to Salvagione’s interest and their generosity, that movie now actually exists.

The video was shot and edited by Christian Schneider (of ideagarden.org), with titles by Brian Scott (of boondesign.com), the latter of whom will be familiar to Disquiet.com readers for his collaboration on such projects as Despite the Downturn; Anander Mol, Anander Veig (and its outtakes follow-up); and Our Lives in the Bush of Disquiet.

Grand Canonical Ensemble consists of Josh Owen Morris and Sam Bradwell. More on them and their music at gce.tumblr.com and grandcanonicalensemble.bandcamp.com. Their third album and first ever to be released physically comes out July 18 at metersandmilesrecordings.com.

The video is hosted at vimeo.com. Salvagione humorously credits me with “euphonic coordination,” which is to say “music supervision.”

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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