Day by Day

Friday, May 11, 2007


Mrs. du Toit has a post up about art. Specifically - movies.

For a film to be great and “art,” a few hundred things have to come together all at the same time. The subject matter has to be interesting, the characters deep and rich, the cinematography truthful, and the editing has to flow. The actors have to be playing parts that are their essence and able to wear their characters as they do their skin. The music and sound has to blend, never getting in the way of the images, but not being too timid either. In a word, everything has to “gel” and become not a series of various arts and skills and craftsmen, but something that when put together and done properly, becomes one thing.

Now, I don't know much about movies, but I've been involved with music in one form or another for years. And that paragraph above, I can understand.

I don't know any way to describe what it's like when you're performing with a group of people, and it just..... clicks. There's no other way to describe it. And sometimes, you can't control it. You want to control it, because then you could bring it out when you need it most, but it doesn't work like that. Sometimes, things just gel so well that it blows you away. I've been at a live performance where the musician was playing his heart out, and while the music was good, it just had something missing. And I've been at a second performance, same musician, same song, and it clicked. The previous performance was good, but this time, it grabbed you and didn't let you go until the song was over. It was like the music just took you over and MADE YOU LISTEN, and you didn't have any choice. It was that damn good. Things gelled. The musicians got into a groove, and it just.... clicked.

There are not many things in the “art” realm that are cooperative efforts. Yes, certainly, the painter relies on his canvas maker and the manufacture of his paints, but they aren’t all working in concert, at the same time, the way a film is made. On a film set there are dozens of artists and craftsmen working in concert, performing something akin to dance. And, like dance, there can be moments, rare moments, when everyone gets it just right… when everything is perfect and you realize you are witnessing something almost other worldly.

Many moons ago, back during the high school daze, I was in jazz choir. The choir director had pulled out an old standard for a small group to peform. Eight people - two soprano, two alto, two tenors, and two bass. "When I Fall In Love". Cheesy. It's been done waaaaay too much, but what the hell, we were going to do it again. Only we were going to do it better. About one week from the performance, we were rehersing in the auditorium before school started, and decided to give it one last run through before we all went to class.

And the moment,
I can feel that
You feel that way too.....
Is when I fall in love with you

And it clicked. People stopped what they were doing to listen to us. People who heard us from outside came in to listen to us. People who didn't give one damn about jazz, singing, or music in general stopped in their tracks while we sang. And nobody moved or said a word until we were done. Afterwards, we just stood around and stared at each other for a while, like "Damn, what just happened? Did we really do that?"

I'd like to say we did that at the performance, but we didn't. Oh, we were good, but we didn't click like we had a week previous.

There are few moments in life when art presents itself like that… when you know you have been in the presence of greatness… those oh-so-rare occasions when time stops and you become part of something…something better than ourselves.

I know how hard it is to reach that peak in music. To be able to reach it and capture it on film? I have no idea. I remember the first time I heard "Sing Sing Sing", recorded at Carnagie Hall, where the groove clicked, and Gene Krupa just could not stop playing. You can feel in even in that scratchy old recording. Krupa was in it. The orchestra had it. And the music didn't stop for over fourteen minutes, and everyone just clicked until they were wrung out. The audience went nuts. They knew that they had just witnessed greatness, however fleeting, and that they may not ever have a chance to see anything like that again.

You can go years and years and never see or experience great art. I’m sure that most people go their whole lives and never see it once. Some might have been in its presence but didn’t know it—weren’t capable of knowing it, or just missed it by some strange set of unfortunate events. Some people might have been in the presence of a great artist and sensed there was something unusual, but couldn’t describe it.

I'm not a big fan of movies; I firmly believe that 90% of the movies churned out by Hollywood should have never been made. But every now and then, you find that gem that makes you remember why you watch movies in the first place. I don't think I've ever experienced movies the way Mrs. du Toit has, nor will I ever. So be it.

But then, I'm not an actor, I'm a musician.

Don't quite know why I wrote this. Still, at least I've done one post today.

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