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Thread: Music as analogy for LF photography

  1. #1
    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Music as analogy for LF photography

    An old entertaining thread titled “Rock Music” (LF images of rocks) inspired me with this question for you:

    Do you "hear" music when you see well composed LF images? If so, what type of music?

    Or maybe you sense the math that some say is intrinsic to both. I’ve heard a similar claim about music and architecture. I’m pretty sure that was Frank Lloyd Wright.

    Sometimes I catch myself humming in the field in response to a scene I like while composing it, but usually not when I’m working in the darkroom, holding prints in my hand, or seeing famous photos in books or on the computer screen.

    Please share your experiences, and if it’s possible, can you explain it? Even better, can you show an example?

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Music is my primary thing but I don’t really ever mix artforms in that way. I’ve always found that sort of thing artificial/forced. It’s easy to draw whatever parallels one wants, but I don’t see much of a point. If something like that happens to occur honestly, without effort/thought, that’s nice I guess.

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    For me, there's definitely a connection between music and my photography. I think I make the strongest connections with symphonic music, definitely partly because that's what I grew up listening to a lot of, but also because when there aren't human voices speaking to me in a song, it leaves my imagination more room to wander and think of what the musical passages could be describing. For me, when listening to a lot of symphonic works my imagination will conjure up a scene which changes as the music changes... somewhat like a reverse film soundtrack, where I imagine images to match music rather then the other way around. My latest project has been about taking pieces of music which create strong imagery for me, and trying to photograph what the music describes to me.

    There are definitely some works which are more evocative for me. As a general rule I imagine the most when listening to music from the late romantic period and onwards. Respighi's Pines of Rome and Fountains of Rome come to mind, which are interesting since Respighi named each movement after certain locations within Rome, but for me the music doesn't always describe the scenes he based it off of. There are some earlier works which still inspire images for me, Beethoven's 6th symphony definitely evokes a lot of rural mountainscapes, but I haven't seen much of a visual element with earlier classical work. I find tone poems fun, since they seem more ambiguous with what they are describing, which makes it more interesting for me to figure out. Though Beethoven's work is undoubtedly brilliant, most of it is very overt in what emotions he is trying to convey, so there isn't as much room for my creative expression.

    The current series of photographs I am working on is based on the Aaron Copland's suite Appalachian Spring, for me it is possibly the most quintessentially New England music, so since that's where I live It's easy for me to photograph what it describes. I'd love to go to Europe and photograph the Austrian Alps for a series inspired by Beethoven, or Eastern Europe for images inspired by Smetana and Dvorak, but I don't feel like travelling much given the current state of the world, so this made sense for a series I can shoot close to home. Winter did come along annoyingly and knock the leaves off all the trees, and as you can imagine given the name of the piece (Appalachian Spring) I've got to wait for warmer weather before I can continue shooting again, but in the meantime I plan on working on some of the more technical aspects, finishing my enlarger build, and deciding what process to use for the prints.

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    This one reminds me of when I waste a sheet of 8x10
    "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for men if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority"---EB White

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    This one when I'm out shooting and the light changes for the worse.
    "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for men if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority"---EB White

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    Land-Scapegrace Heroique's Avatar
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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R View Post
    Music is my primary thing but I don’t really ever mix art forms in that way.
    I’m also curious if your experience of art ever mixes your senses of sight and sound, as the psychologists say happens during synesthesia? That condition might help explain why some LFers “hear” landscapes when they compose on their GG, or “see” landscapes when they hear music in their living room.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ethan View Post
    For me, when listening to a lot of symphonic works my imagination will conjure up a scene which changes as the music changes...
    What an interesting post about music bringing imaginary landscapes to mind. (And timely for me, since just this morning I was listening to Chopin’s Barcarolle, thinking how those delicate but dramatic key changes evoked in me cloud shadows falling quietly on a sunny landscape.) Like you, I think I’m more likely to perceive music inspiring imaginary landscapes, than to perceive real landscapes, such as those I see in the field or on the GG, evoking music that I’ve heard in the past – though that humming I mentioned does occasionally happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    This one reminds me of when I waste a sheet of 8x10.
    Reminds me when I forget to close the shutter before pulling the dark slide – more Hee-Haw than Chopin!

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    For me, when the planets and stars align, when shooting in a complex environment, sometimes I go into what I call the "zone" where all elements come "alive", compositions flow into each other, where I can aim the camera anywhere, and "music" starts playing in my head...

    This is why I try to keep my set-up as simple as possible, so I can "go with the flow" as quickly as possible... (It almost becomes like a dance...)

    A concern more with smaller formats (as I have more material to burn), but one of the reasons I went back to larger formats was the "one shot" mentality to get everything into the one frame/one sheet space...

    Steve K

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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Be it photography_music_literature_painting_sculpture_circuit design_optics design_ cooking_math_mechanical design_furniture making_machine tool work producing parts_astro physicis_biology_genetics_motor car design and nearly every aspect of human endeavor..

    they are ALL Connected in ways not often easily apparent. They are all aspects of human expression based on and driven by the human condition and human experiences. Having been involved with music since childhood that has spilled over into nearly every endeavor no aspect of self can be separated from any other aspects of self including image making aka Photography.


    Bernice

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    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Some critters seem smarter than human

    I have long thought Flipper chose to remain in the Sea.... smart!

    We walked out and look at us now!

    We could move underground and under our Sea

    But no, we want to get off Earth!

    bad idea

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    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: Music as analogy for LF photography

    Quote Originally Posted by Heroique View Post
    Do you "hear" music when you see well composed LF images? If so, what type of music?
    I do. But only with LF. I've never heard any music while working with smaller formats. I don't know why, but it probably has to do with how fully engaged I am with the process.

    I was never able to figure out the specific connection however -- I got different music for different scenes. A lot of classical, but also a fair amount of jazz. Oddly, no blues. No country. No rock. One of my favorite photographs reinforced that idea for me that I had a one-to-one relationship between the scene I was trying to capture and a single musical composition. This particular photograph I went back to four days in a row at dawn to get exactly what I wanted from it. And each morning while working the ground glass I got a particular Duke Ellington tune, it's been so long now I don't remember which one. I don't hear it when I look at the finished print, but only heard it when working the scene.

    I actually asked the late great Oliver Sacks what it was. I thought it might be a version of synesthesia, but he disabused me of that notion. Still don't know the cause, but I thought it was great whenever it happened.

    Bruce Watson

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