I read an interview of a French original soundtrack composer, fan of Ennio Morricone.
Well, he talked about his musical qualities, about his multifaceted style (7 styles, he said!), but in the end told that what he preferred was his morriconesque way to accept almost everything, and then his way to work all the time, constantly, year after year.
Indeed, if you Wikipedia Ennio, you’ll find more than 100 classical works and more than 400 scores for cinema and television.
This says something, but can also ring false alarms.
If you produce a lot, there will be fantastic things AND more ordinary lukewarm other things.
It says that one should not be too solemn before beginning a work. It says to stop thinking too much, and to begin, to try, explore and experiment.
It DOES NOT say (in my opinion) that you can be casual when you work. You will work hard, you’ll really do your best.
“Il fallait qu’un bâton de chaise fût bien fait”, says Charles Peguy in France: The chair rung must be well made, not for the boss, or for connoisseurs, but it had to be well made itself, in itself, for itself, in its very self.
I just finished reading Woody Allen’s biography, when he says he’s an “imperfectionist”. I really felt it was the same pattern.
In fact, most of the great artists are like that. Picasso. Mozart. They work a lot, like crazy, they refuse no experience, they’re like “OK, let’s do that!”. Instead of thinking of is it the good moment or find the perfect way to work, they just begin.
Well, I like that because it’s the way I began my blog. I was sooo solemn about it, about the theme, and the perfect way of doing this or that, and when.
When I watched tutorials on YouTube about starting my channel Quick-Eyed Sky, I often found clips like “Errors new Youtubers make”. One was always: “Stop waiting for the good moment and gear to begin: post now, post today”.
Have a great summer! Sorry for the mistakes in this article, I’ll check it in a few days. I wrote it fast, but I want it cool, right?
I remember the little book of Akira Kurosawa, who remembers that when the movies were silent in Japan, there were people in each cinema, playing music, dialogs, and some sound effect. When the talking pictures came, these people were in the streets, protesting. And well…
It’s the same for everything. Electricity killed the oil lamps market. Cars killed the horse cart market. Electric cars will harm the gas stations, little by little (in Norway, today, more than 60% of new cars are electric).
Today I make images with AIs, and that’s cool because… I don’t know how to draw. I just describe what I want, add some little tricks in words (I’m learning) to precise textures (painting, digital, video game?), and I get pictures, plenty of them, all unique and different. The AI invents for me. And batches plenty.
“Luminescent mushrooms in a mystical forest, twilight, fireflies, clearing, bokeh” gives as many as these as you want (hundreds, if you like):
So I found out that some digital artists find it “unfair”. In a way, I understand that!
But what I feel is they should use it, today.
I can switch on the light, but I don’t have an oil lamp. I can drive a car, but I can’t take care of a horse (and I’m short of room in my apartment).
When I post images in forums, like in Reddit, I got things like:
So, people love it, but some want to ban it. And I’ve been banned from many of them! The viewers love them, but the moderators hate them. It’s not “real art” (and is it, after all)?
Today, it’s a bit difficult to use these Google Colabs. And it’s lonnng. If you use the free option, you need one hour for an image. I pay, and I need 6-7 minutes/image.
There are hundreds of colabs, and very soon (this year, next year?) you’ll be able to get images in seconds. Concept artists will use these tools (or teach them), for sketching, to get ideas, for colors, composition, etc.
Some sites offer this already, in a simple form: Wombo Art, Hypnogram.xyz.
There’s no horse-skill in driving fast cars, it’s like… unfair, right? Drivers developed other skills. Today, to get cool images, you have to know what words are useful, and how to combine them. Unfair, maybe, but people have fun, and are creative (in their own way), and I kind of like it.
I began to make tutorials (on YT) for digital artists, how they could use this. I’ll make more, concept art for characters, using initial sketches to create something else, etc.
Maybe it’ll create a new job: “digital ideas provider”. Hmm…
Choose a phrase, “Brazil Morning Landscape” or “Giant Robot in Taiga”, whatever. You can just ask “The wind”!. You can increase the size of the image to 500 (pixels – more will crash the program). I also tend to put “steps per image” to 20 (I’ll get more steps to “see” the machine work). In the menu bar on the top of the webpage, go to “Runtime”, then “Run All”. And oh, OK, you need 30 minutes to get the last image.
On another page, I invoked “The Wind” and got this. The AI clearly needs more invocations 🙂
You can “color” this by another word. Here’s the wind with…
A painter (Alex Colville, Pict.1).
A website (Artstation, Pict.2).
A tool used for video games (Unreal Engine, Pict.3).
A way of painting for the movies (Matte Painting, Pict.4).
Here are Picasso and Klee for the wind. Who else would you try?
The word Artstation is commonly used because this site is full of great fantasy artists, and it gives dramatic pictures. I just added mist, dragon, emerald, dawn or airships…
It’s interesting to see how the pictures are built. “Storm Circus Tent Artstation Matte Painting” begins with a cloud and finishes this way. Here are steps 20, 40, 400:
It’s been a long time I’ve been that excited with a computer invention. I’m old enough to have seen (is this phrase English?) the birth of Apple II, Pong, Macintosh, the Internet (and the web), personal then laser printers, or… First Person Shooters!
My last “Oh waow” moment is the discovery of VQGAN+CLIP images. This artificial intelligence tool is available for everybody. You’ll find tutorials in articles or on YouTube.
There’s an interesting SubReddit called LeopardAteMyFace (‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party. Revel in the schadenfreude anytime someone has a sad because they’re suffering consequences from something they voted for or supported or wanted to impose on other people.). Schadenfreude is something we all understand and feel anywhere in the world, but the concept-word seems almost unknown in France. It’s been often used with Brexit (when you want to Brexit and then your company crashes because of all problems caused by it).
Of course they made a CovidAteMyFace, a very schadenfreudish place…
In 2000, the French “plural left government” voted the “35 hours workweek” law. From then, it’s how we work in France! As I work in a store there’s been a little agreement: we work 36h, then 39h in December when it’s crowdy, and get 12 more days off (plus the legal normal 5 weeks off, c’est la France!).
In this company, there’s a senior new thing: when you’re 55 and more (which is me), you can work 80% (28h) in four days, you lose the salary part, but not for your retirement. I chose 85%/30h and I’m the happiest man since.
Reading a bunch of books about Barbarossa, the 1941 attack of USSR by the Germans. I have a huge book written by two historians, but I completed with a Wehrmacht soldier memories book, a Red Army compilation of stories, two photography books (on each side), a more complete book about all this German/Russia war (1941-1945), the fantastic Alexander Werth’s book Russia at War.
And it IS a tool here: when you want to explore an era, an artist, a country, one must combine sources from different perspectives and heights. It builds a knowledge-web, and more comprehensive way to always remember it’s complex as hell.
There’s a site named Vodkaster where you add your film critics in… 140 characters only! Less than two lines, which is a great exercise for concision.
Where do you need to exercise your concision’s skills?
I have been obsessed with Francis Poulenc, a French composer (1899-1963). There’s absolutely nobody I can’t talk about Poulenc with, but, well, that’s life! I had the visit from a friend working at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, who is a classical music lover, and we could talk a bit.
He told me and I agreed that Poulenc sounds “so French” that it made us smile. We wondered about what “sounds French” in classical music, which is a real question.
You can do that for many countries, I think of Italy or Russia, or the United Kingdom. There IS a British sound in pop (and classical) music, right? There IS something Russian in Prokofiev’s music. Is it in harmony, style, movement?
Poulenc is unframable, it changes all the time, it’s “insanity and beauty”, triangle and sharp like the Russians, and a second later sweet and dreamy. It’s not that serious, it’s lovely but jerky. It modulates in strange delicious ways…
French composers we know: Ravel and Debussy. You can spend a few weeks with the Web and YouTube to explore what is common or different with these guys. Debussy is fluid, impressionist, Ravel is more “Fauve”, with stronger colors. But that’s not that simple…
From Ravel, listen to the Piano Concerto. From Debussy listen to Nocturnes.
Russian Painters are fantastic. When you need a little “good old academic painting” session, you need a book about Russian painting.
Google : “russian paintings trees”.
You need to have someone on the Internet who explores fields you could like. In music, I talked for a long time to a French guy named EdWood since the nineties (we were among the first French diarists on the web, before it was called “blogging”). He’s an explorer! So every year, he posts his best films or best albums of the year, and I dig!
This week I listened to 50 albums, downloaded plenty, and kept 3 names : Weyes Blood, Anna Meredith, The Twilight Sad.
What is YOUR source for musical discoveries?
I just uploaded a new track on YouTube, and I added a post on the GarageBand SubReddit, telling:
Hi everyone! I had fun yesterday building a crescendo based on a loop of “4 bars” + “4 bars with a modulation”. This makes the audience… need a melody based on it, right?
This is based on a single note called “arr1”, the famous “Moments in Love” Fairlight sound of Art of Noise. I wanted this note to be like a wind (like, in a way, the sound of the wind in Fellini’s movies). I added reverb and some distortion, and it’s just a “Hhhaaaaaaaa” all along the track. The carpet note, if you want.
I found this sound on the web after a few Google searches. “”Moments in Love” Fairlight sound of Art of Noise”.
I added pictures of flowers and frogs to make a YouTube movie.
So it’s 4 chords then 4 other chords with a little modulation. This is boring therefore I literally PILED other sounds with echoes, arpeggios, and some drums here or there. I love stairs!
I separated each step (hhhaaaaa) with a one-bar break. It’s like a… “pause then go on”.
There are two breaks, just for the pleasure of “Let’s climb again”.
In the end, I added louder drums and strings. The two guitars give some relief. They… use the modulation to bring something, I suppose.
Is it acceptable? Should I add a “chorus”? What kind of music is it? Should I use a “I’m a man playing piano notes” over the chords? (I admit I always love to build… little machines). Some lyrics?
Thanks for reading and listening!
The other one is built on a “pianist fingers exercise” (notes around one central note).
My YouTube text:
So I wanted to build an ambient loop around these photos of ants. I lost myself a bit, with this somber piano, but voilà. Insects are cool, right? But ants are cooler when you watch them worrying about « having to go », having to quit, to go away, to find a new home… It’s their dawn, their beginning. Queens within soldiers protecting them until they fly… I played with the idea of unstable harmonies. Some things are sweet, some others are bitter, or uncertain. The music loops but constantly stops. The weaving instruments are sometimes dissonant… this was all a funny game, like Lego.
Game of contrast : acoustic/electronic, reverb/dry, rooted on the loop/evoluting.
“Finasser” is a funny French verb. When I read it in a book I immediatly asked myself “How do you say than in English?”.
Reverso Context tells me plenty of solutions, which means we touched, here, a complex translation point.
To play games
To move slowly
To try to be clever
To get into the niceties
To use trickery
Well, in French it’s clear it means you don’t really fancy doing something when you have to, then you do as if you need to focus on some details, find excuses and pretexts not to do the job.
“Arrête de finasser !” : Stop finassing, sounds very parenting, patronizing.
To play games sounds good, but finasser is not “being inconsistent” to annoy someone, it’s more “to be smiling and lazy”.
To move slowly would be the consequence of finasser.
To try to be clever seems sarcastic and mean or witty. Finasser is not sarcastic though. It’s just a lack of will.
I love “to get into the niceties“, because it’s really that. To focus on small details… not to work.
To use trickery is not correct, or maybe just a little. To dazzle: the same. Finasser is not about cheating of misleading, it’s more about hesitation or a small will to slow down things.
To equivocate is right. To prevaricate seems better! But the verbs in French are “chipoter” or “tergiverser”, it’s another problem. Chipoter: to haggle over. Tergiverser: to um and ah, to procrastinate (and oh there’s a “to tergiversate” in English?).
Then it’s leads to : to sit on the fence, to punt, to pussyfoot around (seems perfect, though we’d say “faire des manières”, which is… to fuss), to waffle back and forth (more about changing mind all the time – être une girouette (to be a weathercock)), to dillydally (oh marvel!!), haver (sillier?), punt (evading the issue, to pass the buck), shilly-shally (oh, cool!).
Finasser is a little this and that. It shows a will to be slow, find excuses not to work, but not really to annoy someone else.
The Larousse dictionary says: “User de finesses, de subterfuges pour se dérober ou obtenir un avantage ; ruser.”- Use finesse, subterfuge to evade or gain an advantage; cunning.
Hmmm, that’s complicated, right?
The “asser” we add to words is a bit negative. Bavasser means “to prattle”, it’s bad and vulgar.
There are many bad insults in French finishing by “asse” (connasse, pouffiasse, grognasse, pétasse, blondasse), these are loud and mean! If “tiède” means “lukewarm”, tiédasse is like “it’s sadly lukewarm”, like bad soup, haha.
I always loved to explore trees of words. This was a good one. Of course my interpretations of words’ “colors” is probably wrong at times. Tell me in the comments?
The Geometric Mind and the Spirit of Finesse: Pascal was a French philosopher. He played with these to ways:
Geometric Mind: “the skill or capacity for demonstrating truths already found, and of elucidating them in such a manner that the proof of them shall be irresistible”. Thinking with principles, causes and consequences. Also, geometry separates things, draws lines.
Spirit of Finesse: “The intuitive mind, with its instinctive twists and turns, lucky hunches, and inspired guesswork”. Intuition. You feel things, but it will maybe not clear for others. Finesse embraces things.
Excellence needing both, of course!
It’s about “to adapt your mindset to the problem”. You need to have the “right” view not to think wrongly on… known principles. One way of thinking helps the other way.
Then we can have fun with it. What do we prefer? Are we able to tango with both? What does it bring? What do we lose? How to communicate with one type of spirit?
New English words I learned recently. Learning a language is a continuous experience. Everyday I’m surprised! Like:
Insofar sounds very formal, right? I’d be happy to find a moment in a conversation when I could use it, alone or with “insofar as”, which in French is “dans la mesure de”.
Lackadaisical is apathetic but sound so silly, right? I DO wonder what is the color of it. Is it casual or nonchalant, is it lazy? Blithe, blasé? Can lackadaisical be voluntary, sarcastic? Cool?
Trespass is a common word but I really can remember it, each time I have to check.
Call time is maybe “ladies and gentlement we close the store!”, but it’s also “to say stop”, right? To announce the end.
Onus as a law word, but also obligation, responsability. Is it common?
Make do for “be content with what is available”. In French we say “faire avec” : to make with.
To doll up, oh I love this one so much! We have great verbs for this one. Bichonner is when you doll up a friend, you help her. Se pomponner is based on the noun “pompon” (yes the decorative fluffy ball). It’s something like “to pompon myself”.
Tryingness (The state or condition of being trying (arduous, difficult to endure) sounds difficult to use.
To scatter, disperser, éparpiller, with all the rest : across, on, over.
Harumphingly was amazing to discover. Harumph is maybe the way French say “Pfff”. And I wonder if I could say I’m an harumpher.
Snug, I wonder how come it could mean “warm cumfortable” AND “tight-fitting”. So “a dress fits very snug” can be something to say? To fit snugly? I love the “form fitting” color of it though. We say “épouser à merveille” for this marvellous dress : “It spouses you at marvel”, somthing like that.
So there’s that gives “alors voilà” (so there). Urban Dic says : “A phrase said after describing something strange, awkward, ironic, hilarious, crazy, or otherwise profound.” Good!
Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river. How to photograph a river? She’s like the lady you’re in love with: she’s complex, multiple, given, elusive, clear, dark, changing and marvellous. What do I choose? The light? Water? Trees? Rocks? Here are 14 pictures of La Dordogne, near the little town of Carsac.
Again, a walking bass. I love them! Dong dong dong dong dong. I tried to add less mechanical music. I added string chords, but interrupted them sometimes. I tried another style for the end, a long stroll of bass string going nowhere…
The pictures I took along a long walk strangely fit the song: creatures. Birds. Drawings. Things.
For this one I found an old voice from the London docks, with a bell, announcing something.
The game is the Moby one: add drums, JP, bass, strings, saxes and whistles. Then it’s a puzzle around this loop: adding things/cutting things. I should chorus but nope. I should double the bass with somme upper pianos… maybe.
I’m casual, I know. When I compose I don’t finish. I draft. I need a producer!
Also, I sing and I shouldn’t. But well, I’m the only singer around 🙂
Also, I build films with a few pictures and the Ken Burns effect. I don’t want to finish, it’s boring. Voilà.
These days I have fun with poems.
“Aimez-vous le passé ?” means “Do you love the past?”. I googletranslated the poem for you:
Do you like the past And dream of stories Evocative With erased outlines?
Old rooms Widows of steps Who smell all low Iris and amber;
The pallor of the portraits, The worn-out relics That the dead have kissed, Dear, I would like
May they be dear to you, And talk to you a little Of a dusty heart And full of mystery.
“Veuve de pas” : widowed of steps, meaning “deprived of people walking in these rooms”.
I found pictures I took in Cabourg ten years ago in Normandy (yes it’s near the D-Day beaches), hop, iMovied.
The music is an exercise about obsession: there’s no change, no chorus, it “walks” all the time.
I wrote the bass after hearing “In the Army Now” by Status Quo : dong, dong, dong, dong, adding a tatatatata guitar over it.
The game was to weaveknit chords under this walk. I added little dissonnances in the piano, it’s a bit irritating for ears and all – but now so much. Here it is:
Aimez-vous le passé
Aimez-vous le passé Et rêver d’histoires Évocatoires Aux contours effacés ?
Les vieilles chambres Veuves de pas Qui sentent tout bas L’iris et l’ambre ;
La pâleur des portraits, Les reliques usées Que des morts ont baisées, Chère, je voudrais
Qu’elles vous soient chères, Et vous parlent un peu D’un coeur poussiéreux Et plein de mystère.
Paul-Jean Toulet, Chansons
I wanted to try another one, so I googled “dance in poetry” to find this “Dansez, Petites Reines” (Dance, Little Queens). I found a possible translation (I did not use the whole poem) which changes things a bit:
THE GRANDFATHER'S SONG.
Dance, little Queens,
All in a ring ;
Loves to Lasses
Sweet kisses will bring.
Dance, little Madcaps,
All in a ring ;
The crabbed old mistress
Will grumble and fling.
Dance, little beauties,
All in a ring ;
The birds will applaud you
With clapping of wing.
Dance, little Fairies,
All in a ring ;
With corn-flower garlands
And fair as the spring.
Dance, little women,
All in a ring ;
Each Beau to his Lady
Says some pretty thing.
The game here was to alternate a crappy vintage sound and a more luxurious one in the choruses (voices and instruments). I had fun with the bass line, and linked parts with a golden trumpet.
I found images with ducks for YouTube, because why not, right?
( thequietus.com ) is a magazine about intelligent music, movies and some other arts like graphic novels or architecture. It’s typically the chest-like website, full of possible discoveries.
Many (most of the) musics I don’t like here, but it’s always interesting, even when it’s awful or ridiculous. My brain is playing like a kid with colorbricks, analyzing how the artists push the cork a little or much too far.
Even the texts, the critics, are cool. Vocabulary gives a hint for each musician. “an album designed to both inspire calm as well as disrupt it” makes me want to listen.
What I selected here is, I agree, the less avant-garde possible. My pearls, emeralds and nuggets come often like this, digging, finding
I’ve been amazed by Hen Ogledd (26), who begins like Robert Wyatt then develop a… splendid pleasure of making music (I’m probably influenced by his great eyes). The most adorable guy of the list?
Katie Gately (49 )surprised me with her Waltz. I loved, immediately, the way she marked the first beat of this dance. Then, it’s a crescendo, weaved with surprises, sounds, breaks. It puts her into the territory of Björk, Kate Bush, even Dead Can Dance. Lyricism! Modulation under a bridge, responding voices, changes, this climbing. Fascinating, right?
I found another clip (same musician), which frightens me a bit more, but the clip is so fantastic that I had to keep listening. She explores limits, between pleasure and chaos. This music is like… growing like she’s alive.
I listened the broken things of Malibu Liquor Store, the swarming The Homesick (try The Pawing), the floating pedal steel guitar or Susan Alcorn, the acid synth loops of Lorenzo Senni, the rotating sickness of Sex Swing, the laments of Keeley Forsyth, Nadine Shah, the strange clips of UKAEA, the silly repeats of Horse Lords.
Then Memnon Sa (76 ), an insisting music with synths. Simple and haunted.
Mary Lattimore (35)? Quiet, but neve too much (which is always hard to achieve). Try Ana Roxanne too.
Thanks for reading!
Next to this I found two names you can explore : Chapelier Fou & Olafur Arnalds. Good day!
I just read a book from Michael Herr, an American writer and war correspondent, who wrote Dispatch, a great book about the Vietnam war.
He wrote a book, a “personal biography” about Stanley Kubrick. He worked for him for years as a writer (he co-wrote Full Metal Jacket).
Kubrick was exhausting, very intelligent, and constantly calling people on the phone. He was living near London but spent many hours a day talking to friends and collaborators. He stayed American all his life and stayed connected to his country all the time.
Herr writes that when Kubrick ended a conversation (called by him a “strenuous intercourse”) with you, he knew everything about what you had in your head about a subject. Devouring your brain…
Well, I didn’t know this word, “strenuous“, so I found: energetic, vigorous, requiring strength. Also: unremitting, dogged, tenacious. OK!
But “intercourse“, really? For me, it was about sex only, but I found: discussion, and this example: “The two businesses had a lot of intercourse over the years”. OKeyyyy!
I ADORE this ambiguity. If in this blog I look for structures, I can’t agree more:
A great conversation is very similar to great sex.