The Outsider:the Story of Harry Partch (1974)

12 09 2010

Harry Partch (June 24, 1901 – September 3, 1974) was an American composer and instrument creator. He was one of the first twentieth-century composers to work extensively and systematically with microtonal scales, writing much of his music for custom-made instruments that he built himself, tuned in 11-limit (43-tone) just intonation.

Bob Gilmore, author Harry Partch: a biography writes

“I was a sort of unofficial consultant for a very good documentary film on Partch, The Outsider: the story of Harry Partch, directed by Darren Chesworth, first screened on BBC4 in 2002. Good film treatment of Partch and his work being rare, this 58-min documentary deserves a wide circulation. It includes much footage of Partch, together with interviews with Philip Glass, Gavin Bryars, and most (though not all) of the main Partch heavies: Philip Blackburn, Betty Freeman, Danlee Mitchell, Stephen Pouliot, John Schneider, Jon Szanto and myself.” 

Related Resources

On the Sensations of Tone By Hermann L. F Von Helmholtz

VIRTUAL PARTCH INSTRUMENTS





Backstage Magic

10 05 2010
I always believed performance is about sincerity shared in the confidence of warm intimacy. Where better to find this sort of thing then in the back-stages and green rooms scattered thoughout the history of the world? That’s where the real magic happens. Here are a few examples
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STEVIE NICKS  (Wild Heart)
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From a Rolling Stone photo session, presumably around 1983/4 in which a camera catches Stevie Nicks and band perform ‘Wild Heart’ from the heart. Very real, very beautiful.
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Leonard Cohen (Bird on a Wire)
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After a nervous and uncertain Cohen walks of stage and retreats to the dressing room, resolving not to perform, his friends and co-performers urge him on with a version of ‘Bird on a Wire’. This footage is magic, not just for the reality of the situation which is conveyed but for the beauty of such a real moment. Watch for Bob Johnson (Simon and Garfunkel’s producer) as he performs the second verse. The sight of a broken Cohen on the floor of the tour bus at the end is really something. Despite the encouragement he did not go back out to finish the set.

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Waking Life (Richard Linklater)

10 05 2010

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Waking Life is a digitally enhanced American live-action rotoscoped film, directed by Richard Linklater and released in 2001. The entire film was shot using digital video and then a team of artists using computers drew stylized lines and colors over each frame. The film was Fox Searchlight Pictures’ only production using this technique.

The title is a reference to George Santayana’s maxim: “Sanity is a madness put to good uses; waking life is a dream controlled.”





QUENTIN CRISP – Denis Mitchell’s documentary (1968)

15 04 2010

After the publication of his book, The Naked Civil Servant, in 1968 Quentin Crisp was approached by documentary maker Denis Mitchell to be the subject of a short film in which he was to talk about his life & voice his opinions.

It was my previous post (Chelsea Hotel Doc) which brought Crisp to my attention so think of this post as a sort of continuity. That said actually, there is often a sort of continuity in the posts you find here;one line of inquiry leads to the next.





Chelsea Hotel (Arena, BBC 1981)

15 04 2010

1981 BBC documentary on the famous New York hotel and its colorful inhabitants. The documentary is incomplete here but still a worthwhile watch. Some highlights include Andy Warhol and William Burroughs having dinner; Quentin Crisp pontificating in a blue rinse hairdo on his balcony and Nico performing “Chelsea Girls”.





Frank Gehry: From 1990, defending a vision for architecture

10 04 2010

Speaking at TED in 1990, the not-yet-legendary architect Frank Gehry takes a whistlestop tour of his work to date, from his own Venice Beach house to the under-construction American Center in Paris. In this 50-minute slideshow (before TED’s 18-minute limit), Gehry explains the site-specific nature of his buildings — context he felt was lost in the discussions of his then-controversial work. In this candid and funny talk, he exposes his own messy creative process (“I take pieces and bits, and look at it, and struggle with it, and cut it away…”) and the way he struggles with problems (“This model on the left is pretty awful. I was ready to commit suicide when this was built … If any of you have ideas on it, please contact me. I don’t know what to do”).





Douglas Adams – Hyperland (1990)

30 03 2010

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Hyperland is a 50 minute long documentary film about hypertext and surrounding technologies written by Douglas Adams and produced by BBC Two in 1990. It stars Douglas Adams as a computer user and Tom Baker, with whom Adams already had worked on Doctor Who, as a software agent.  Very prescient.