Filtering by Tag: music

Random Thoughts About Art: #04 The Red Shoes

Dear everyone,

If you’re wondering about the title of this post, well, let me just say that the Powell & Pressburger film (more than the fairy tale written by Hans Christian Andersen) could easily represent my artistic life.

My obsession with art will probably be the death of me, physically or psychologically, figuratively or literally.

I know there's no turning back and, honestly, that’s something that scares me and reassures me at the same time.

Take care,

Gavino

 

IMG_1646.JPG

The Red Shoes, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, UK, 1948

Halloween Memories

After a short trip to Sardinia (when I’m there, I never have enough time!), I’m here to talk about art again.

Well, then... Halloween! 

I have many nice memories about the 31st of October, and today I’d like to share one of them with you. 

When I was around sixteen, as I already wrote in one of my previous posts, I used to sing in a (sort of) band, which was initially composed by me and one of my best friends.

We had been playing and composing together for a year when we decided that it was time to show our friends what we could do (which wasn’t very much, really...). We thought that Halloween would be the perfect day to do that: we would throw a Halloween party in my place and wear some costumes in order to create the characters that would become the members of our band. It was perfect!

If I remember well, we had a five-song setlist composed of original songs and covers, and we were pretty happy about the selection. We rehearsed for a week or so, and I must say that we weren’t particularly anxious about the performance, probably because we thought we were pretty good.

Anyway, on the day of the concert, at 5 or 6 pm,  the guests arrived (only ten people because we weren’t the most social people around)). We all ate and drank while chatting at the rhythm of David Bowie’s Scary Monsters, Disintegration by The Cure and other New Wave albums for a couple of hours.

At around 8, I and my best friend decided it was time to play some memorable music, so we grabbed our very cheap guitars and started to play in front of our friends. I remember I felt fantastic, all the eyes upon us and my voice reverberating in the small living room.

Also, our friends were very nice, and after we finished playing, everybody congratulated us for the show.

I felt it was one of the best days of my life.

Now, I’d like my story to finish like this but, unfortunately, someone recorded our performance (probably, my father), so after everybody went back home, my best friend included, I had a look at our amazing show and... I saw the scariest thing ever!

I think I wasn’t able to sleep that night...

 

Thanks for reading and... Happy Halloween!

 

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins

The Ruins Of The Tower Of Babel

First of all, I want you to know that yesterday I released my short film Introducing Lilith. It’s now on YouTube and, of course, on this website (on the ‘pictures’ section). It’s a film I really care about because of many reasons: if you’ve got 2 minutes (literally), I suggest you check it out. Also, the soundtrack of the film is available on iTunes/Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon etc. Among all the pieces of music I composed, it’s probably my favourite one, so I would be particularly happy if you listened to it and left a feedback to give me your opinion.

Now, I’ll probably talk about these new releases next week. Today, I’d like to write about the last song of the album I’m recording, Songs Of Fear And Agony. I discussed the themes of all the others, so this will be the last post of the series.

The song is called The Ruins Of The Tower Of Babel:

 

When I’m alone, I’ll fall into

Antique Italian dreams, among

Thoughts made of marble, tears of paint

And ghosts mouthing rhymes.

 

In churches built of human blood,

I’ll listen to God’s harmony.

And when I return, I’ll tell

Everyone of my secret life.


Who would really comprehend my words?

Who would try to understand

Who I really am?


For now, I’d better hold my tongue

And work on some new cryptic lines,

While German songs and Indian chants

Try hard to overcome the noise.


We all belong to it now, and to

The unbridled Irish wind:

A frenzied oracle of hope that

Speaks in tongues and we can’t see.


Who would really comprehend his words?

Who would try to understand

Who he really is?


Who would really comprehend our words?

Who would try to understand

Who we really are?


A floating world would be enough

For me to face a sudden change,

Although my poor, chaotic talk

Would force me to lie ceaselessly.


Concealed behind the shadows

Of countless Japanese identities,

I’d greet the darkness, kneel

And, lastly, enjoy my solitude.

 

I think it’s fairly easy to understand that one of the main themes of the lyrics is ‘communication’ (or, better, the absence of it). The myth of the Tower of Babel has always been used extensively to discuss this particular topic, so this won’t come as a surprise. If we looked at the lyrics more carefully, though, we would find a deeper meaning concealed underneath the first one: loneliness.

It would be hard for me to deny that this song is particularly personal. To a certain extent, it’s even autobiographical, and the references to Italy and Ireland are there to prove it. At the same time, and this might probably sound strange to some people, Dublin has always made me feel less lonely, so the adjective ‘autobiographical’ wouldn’t be accurate.

Loneliness has been used many times to describe two different feelings. A person who’s got not friends or partners experiences loneliness, for example, and so does someone who can’t feel the presence of, let’s say, God. The two situations, although intrinsically connected, are different: interpersonal loneliness and existential loneliness are not the same.

When I was writing The Ruins Of The Tower Of Babel, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I wanted to write about interpersonal loneliness in order to talk about its counterpart. I pictured myself lost in a city full of people I could’t understand, a city built upon the ruins of the Tower of Babel, and I pictured many, many people like me.

There they are... Why can’t they understand each other? It’s because they (their fathers) built the Tower of Babel: it’s because they wanted to reach God.

Now, does interpersonal loneliness, absence of communication, or even absence of empathy, come directly from the absence of God, or his inaccessibility? Does it come from existential loneliness?

 

Thanks for reading! 

 

Building Of The Tower Of Babel, Hendrick van Cleve III, About 1525 - 1589

Building Of The Tower Of Babel, Hendrick van Cleve III, About 1525 - 1589

Art Evolution

Three days ago, I wrote a very brief post about the implications of being an independent artist. It wasn’t particularly informative, to be honest, but I’m happy I did it because on the same day I received a very interesting comment on Instagram:

@neva_2018 About your post: I often wonder if creative works are ‘selected’ over time for traits that make them more competitive in the book market, like ‘literary evolution’. Do these popular works deserve their selection? Based on what general traits are they selected? What are your thoughts?

(By the way, I suggest you check @neva_2018’s Instagram profile: you’ll find some very interesting poems!)

The following day I wrote a very long reply and... I deleted it by mistake... Undaunted, I decided to write an entire post about the topic.

So here it is (if you’re not into literary theory, I suggest you skip this post. Come to visit this page on Wednesday, though: I’ve got some good news about my music!):

First of all, I’ve got to say that I’m not a scholar and this is not an essay: only my very humble (and probably disconnected) thoughts.

As far we know, humans have always tried to select and preserve the best works of art, but there’s always been a problem: what does ‘best’ mean, when applied to art, and literature in particular? Things get even more complicated if we realise that the concept of art itself has changed through the history of mankind.

In my opinion, there’s one precise human aspect that has always played an important role in the ‘literary evolution’, and that’s taste. Unfortunately (that is, fortunately), even during the same period, people’s tastes vary depending on many, many factors (country, social position, age... The list could go on and on).

I recently read a very interesting introduction to one of the most famous books of all time, ‘One Thousand And One Nights’ (or ‘The Arabian Nights’). Although the stories contained in the original manuscripts (most of them, at least) were originated in the Middle-East, India and even China, they didn’t gain much attention until they reached the European countries. That’s because their language wasn’t refined enough to be part of the Arabic canon. People didn’t like them and, even now, many scholars of Arabic literature question their value.

That’s a good example to explain why, personally, I’ve always found sentences like ‘That’s his finest writing’ or  ‘He’s the best writer in the world’ to be essentially naive (please keep in mind that, like most people, I often said things like that). How can an adjective like that be applied to a particularly subjective field as art?

Famously, Aristotle’s opinions on poetry ended up being so influential that for centuries numberless writers tried to stick to what they considered to be sacred rules. Even now, when teaching screenwriting, people take his ‘Poetics’ as fundamental for storytelling. 

(A very personal note: Unfortunately, Many Hollywood producers understood how to make tons of money with a very basic narrative structure, and Hollywood films have always been very influential. Sometimes I feel like the existence of films such as those by Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini or Akira Kurosawa is considered a sort of anomaly...)

Funny enough, the tragedies of William Shakespeare, who usually ignored the Aristotelian rules, are more famous than those of many other writers of the same period who followed them. Why? Because the tastes of the English in the 16th century were probably very different from those of the Greeks in the 4th century BC (and I’m not even talking about individual tastes).

Now, I want to get straight to the questions of the Instagram comment I told you about.

My thoughts about taste being fundamental in the selection (and in the preservation) of any work of art are pretty clear, I think, and I also already said that there are many general traits that are appealing to the people of a certain time and of a certain space. There are so many, that I might write an entire book trying to identify them... Sadly, I won’t be able to make a list today.

As for the selected books of the past, I really don’t know if they deserved to be selected. If I replied to this question, I would have to say that they were or they weren’t better than others, and as I said I don’t know how I could affirm something like that while being sincere.

But let’s talk of the book market. For a very long lapse of time, books (and works of art in general) were chosen because people wanted to preserve them. This kind of selection was essential and, as I said multiple times, was dictated by taste. The advent of printing in the 15th century changed everything, though, and everything changed even more with the birth of our capitalistic society around five hundred years after that. Although things are slightly changing, the books we now find in our favourite bookshops were selected by a number of people working in a publishing house.

Did they select them because they simply liked them more than others?

In my opinion, yes and no.

Although I believe many books get published because beautiful or interesting, I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to read them if considered difficult to sell. I say ‘considered’ because, unfortunately (and the internet is here to prove it), it’s very hard to understand what will be successful or not, especially now. There certainly are particular traits that ‘make them more competitive’, but I do believe they’re difficult to analyse (there are probably entire teams that do it) and, most importantly, they’re unpredictable.

The people in the music and film industry, being these two fields particularly commercial, have tried to solve the problem by dictating or directing the taste of the people. This is something that happens for books as well, but I don’t think the problem’s so serious (maybe I’m being very optimistic, though).

Anyway, it seems this system is going to collapse. The artists can now reach the audience directly, and it seems this kind of self-production/self-distribution/self-promotion will last for a while (who knows?).

The art selection is becoming more democratic, but also more brutal, and apart from the artistic merits of a work, advertising and promotion are the essential elements of this reality.

In the end, it still is a matter of people’s tastes, but tastes in ads, probably, more than in art.

Oh, dear! It seems today I wrote a bit too much... I don’t know how many people will reach the end of this post. If you have, you can consider yourself a hero! I’m not sure whether what I wrote above makes sense or not. I didn’t really plan it, so it will probably sound like a chaotic series of random thoughts.

Anyway...

Thanks for reading (I promise I’ll post more entertaining stuff in the future...)!

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, Rembrandt, 1653

Aristotle with a Bust of Homer, Rembrandt, 1653

Words

Although it might sound strange, words are the most important ‘material’ I work with.

I know that many artists (musicians, but also filmmakers) start working on a project by creating sounds or pictures: tons of musicians compose the music of their songs before they even think about the lyrics, and several filmmakers I love make drawings or take pictures to be inspired.

That’s not my case. I start with ideas, concepts and themes, and these come to my mind as words.

When I’m happy about the lyrics of a song that still needs music, its harmony and its melody will reach my ears, naturally. When I’m happy about a dialogue, the pictures of the film will magically appear in front of my eyes.

Sometimes music and pictures come to me as I write.

Today I’m talking about words because I think it’s time for me to do something I haven’t done in a while: writing words which aren’t meant to be sung or spoken.

Wait! That’s the exact same thing I’m doing right now...

Thanks for reading!

Ways To Change [The Adverb Wall] (detail), Peter Wegner

Ways To Change [The Adverb Wall] (detail), Peter Wegner

Random Thoughts About Art: #01 Writing Songs And Making Films

For many years, I tried to choose between writing songs and making films. I thought I would never have time to do both. I wasn’t right, but it’s true that it can be hard, sometimes. I find myself writing lyrics, editing scenes of my screenplays, recording music and trying to find funds for my films during the same week.

I tried to stop writing music a couple of times: the first time when I was around 20, and the second time when I was around 26. Of course, it didn’t work. If you feel you need to do something (that is, something legal and morally correct... yes...), you shouldn’t stop yourself. It’s that simple. There are compromises you need to accept, yes, but if you really want to do it (and you know it if you really want to), then, do it.

Personally, I now know that I can’t write films if I don’t write songs. Why? Well, although the answer is right above these lines, I usually fool myself saying that...

Songs, being closely related to lyrical poetry, are naturally more personal than films, which are closely related to dramatic poetry: I need to use my voice in order to create voices for my characters.

Does that make any sense?

Thanks for reading! 

Terry Gilliam and Tom Waits

Terry Gilliam and Tom Waits

Fear & Agony

I feel I should write a few lines about a song I wrote and recorded around four years ago. Its title is different now, but at the time it was called ‘Captivity’.

Usually, after I finish a song, I don’t really know how important that is going to be. Many songs I genuinely love during the writing process become unbearably dull to my ears after some time, while others I don’t really care of, eventually, end up being my favourite ones. I never know.

The situation of ‘Captivity’ has always been different, though. When I started writing it, I knew it was an important song and, after four years, it still is.

The problem with songs you really love is that you want their recording to sound as good as possible. Unfortunately, although interesting, the recorded version of ‘Captivity’ wasn’t that good. That’s why you won’t find it in my first two EPs.

Fortunately, as it happens many times in our lives, what seemed to be a problem turned out to be a blessing:

‘Captivity’, which is now ‘Fear & Agony’, has become the most important song of the album I’m recording...

And that’s because I feel I’m not done with it...

And I feel I’m not done with it because the energy the song contains hasn’t been released yet!

I’m going to do that soon with the help of a special guest (yes, Hugh Cannon, I’m talking about you),  and this time I won’t make the same mistakes (although I’m sure I will make some others...).

If you’re curious, this is the first stanza:

Can you hear the deep white noise

That heralds the executioner?

It mauls the crags and madly yells:

“Don’t waste your pleas: the sickle’s deaf.”

The main themes are, obviously, ‘fear’ and ‘agony’, but I’ve always felt there’s another one that underlines them...

The picture below comes from ‘Shame’, a film made by Ingmar Bergman in 1968. Four years ago I sampled the first dialogue of the film and added it to the recording of the song. That’s one of the few things that actually worked.

Thanks for reading!

Shame, Ingmar Bergman, 1968

Shame, Ingmar Bergman, 1968

© Black Art 2019