Archive for the ‘music’ Category

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Music: 14 The Importance of Skill

Adventures in Music

Niccolo Paganini

Now here’s an area of music where I’m a little out of my familiar territory. I played violin for one grueling year in elementary school and swore off it forever (much to the relief of my parents). Although I’m interested in violin music (as long as someone else is holding the fiddle) I’ve never really explored the repertoire for solo violin. I know a little bit about Paganini- he was a flamboyant showman who used pyrotechnic technique to dazzle audiences- and I know Nathan Milstein was a great violinist who performed into his 80s- but I can’t call myself knowledgeable about this stuff at all.

Nathan Milstein: “Paganiniana” 1968
(sorry for the typo in the slate)

But I can tell you that when I first saw this clip on EMI’s Great Recordings of the Century DVD, my jaw was hanging on the floor. Ever since Andy Warhol made “ideas without skill” fashionable back in the 60s, it seems to me that popular culture has been playing a game of “skill limbo”. How low can we go? How badly drawn can a cartoon be and still be considered a cartoon? How many drum machines and sequencers can we stack up to avoid having to learn a real instrument? How much plastic surgery does it take to make acting skills unnecessary? I really don’t know the answers to those questions. Every day is a new horror.

But when I see someone who has both an idea AND skill, I’m reminded just how doggone powerful and dynamic a creative artist can be. I’m sick and tired of accepting “half a loaf”. Speak to me with eloquence. Dazzle me with your skill. Communicate an important idea. I insist on “all of the above”.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Music: 13 Artists Collaborating Without Words

Adventures in Music

Duke Ellington

Here’s another stunning clip from Norman Granz: Improvisation. This video captures the moment when the painter and sculptor Joan Miro (apologies in advance to the punctuation police) and jazz composer Duke Ellington meet for the first time for an improvised jazz session. I’ve witnessed similar unusual artistic collaborations myself- I produced a rock video for Bjork (more apologies!) that was designed and animated by John K.

Duke Ellington: “Improvisation for Miro”

Parties at my house are always interesting interactions between cartoonists, musicians and creators of all stripes. Sometimes these sorts of things don’t work out- Walt Disney and Salvador Dali’s “Destino” was never meant to be (and when it finally was completed, it looked very little like either of their work). But when two great creative minds in different disciplines can find a way to work in tandem, wondeful things can happen. I’m sure there are more unusual collaborations between different types of artists. If you can think of some, tell me about them in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Music: 12 Jammin’ The Blues

Adventures in Music

Lester Young

Animation is anything but an improvisatory medium. Every frame is painstakingly created by hand, hundreds of artists contribute to a single film, and the animators time the action down to a 24th of a second. Only the very best animators are able to overcome the constraints of frame by frame filmmaking and imbue their work with a feeling of spontaneity. Chief among these rarified breed of animators is Ralph Bakshi. I’ve written about him several times before, but it’s not just because he’s my pal. It’s because he is so unique. Ralph’s first three pictures, Fritz the Cat, Heavy Traffic and Coonskin are intensely personal- just like Lester Young’s sax solos. He accomplishes his results in the same way- by constructing his films as a real-time performance with virtuoso animators. Scenes are animated and laid down and another scene takes its place. The result might not be as polished as other animated films, and the narrative can become quite fragmented, but it’s a hundred times more honest than talking dogs and princesses.

Adventures in Music

“Jammin’ The Blues” 1944

“Jammin’ the Blues” may just be the most beautiful film about Jazz ever made. I don’t need to say anything more than that. You can find this short on a DVD titled Norman Granz: Improvisation.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Adventures in MusicAdventures in Music

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Adventures in Music.