If a B&W photograph were a piece of music, what would it sound like?

Discussion in 'Ethics and Philosophy' started by SchwinnParamount, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    There's no doubt about it. A fine b&w photograph (finer than I could make) would be a Glenn Gould performance of Bach's Partita No. 1 (b-flat Major).

    Gould's piano performances were pure of tone and tempo. If anyone disputes that, then well... I guess we'll have to take it out into the street.

    Ok, anybody else have any ideas?
     
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Yeah. If a piece of music was a b&W photograph it would need only 2 notes.
     
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  3. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    4 notes.. Black, white, gray... and lightgray
    sheesh
     
  4. Pete H

    Pete H Member

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    Ansel's music would have 10 notes. Mine would sound like a kazoo :tongue:
     
  5. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Since I mainly shoot color, I wonder how it would sound. :D
     
  6. unohuu

    unohuu Member

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  7. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    depends on the picture

    i guess our job is to make the music when we make the print

    me, i have an affinity for the english horn and cello

    ...........................
    schwinn paramount ?
    that still come with a springer fork for the paperboys ? ; ]
     
  8. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Interesting question. I just struggled through a Google search of (finally) Mussorgsky's (anyone knew how to spell his name?) Pictures at an Exhibition. I found
    [ http://www.stmoroky.com/reviews/gallery/pictures/hartmann.htm ].

    This is a descriptive analysis ... probably somewhat superficial, but I'm not sure I can take anything more profound at this time on a Sunday morning, after a LOT of darkroom work yesterday, and a brain fried out from thinking of APUG Standard Definitons.

    Mussorsgky wrote Pictures at an Exhibition as a reaction to Hartmann's work. I haven't really tried to do the same with MY - or anyone else's work ... During the usual ennui that occasionally accompanies "sitting at a gallery", this might be - will be an interesting "stretching excersize".

    I wonder about the expressions on the faces of those who are experiencing the works when I ask them, "What music do you hear/ think of as you look at this photograph?"
     
  9. David Henderson

    David Henderson Member

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    Little Feat made music that contained a lot of disparate, even discordant parts that nevertheless hung together sublimely well. The most interesting b&w photography does likewise.
     
  10. Will S

    Will S Member

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    Many (well not that many) people actually hear in color. Alexander Scriabin was one of these people, and he actually programmed color displays to go along with some of his music. (I don't know the detail because this was never my area, but you can probably find out the piece(s) by looking at the New Grove entry on Scriabin.)

    In re: to the original post there is the famous Weston quote about knowing he was on to something when he began to hear a Bach invention in his work.

    Gould would be more comparable to the printer/darkroom technician, whereas Bach would be the photographer/composer. I have my own ideas about which is more important, but both obviously contribute to the final outcome of the work. I guess the speakers are like the frame and the glass... And the piano is the paper and chemicals... and the microphone is the enlarger lens...
     
  11. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    "If a B&W photograph were a piece of music, what would it sound like?"

    What indeed? It would depend on the photo.

    I see this from the other direction.

    Much music written through the ages is "program" music, as opposed to "absolute" music. "Program" music describes something. "Pictures at an Exhibition" is the most obvious example for this discussion, but the list is endless. Anybody's "Pastoral" Symphony, almost all ballets, opera scores, tone poems, etc.

    There have even been projects like the two Disney Fantasia movies that made pictures from some "absolute" music, although the illustrations tended to be more abstract (Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d).

    Ansel said something to the effect (can't recall the quote right now) of a good print being like a Bach fugue. I always thought that quote said more about Ansel than about photography, but that's just my opinion.

    Do I see pictures when I listen to music. Yes, much of the time. Do I hear music when I look at pictures. Not very often. YMMV.

    Having been trained as a musician with photography as a hobby, I have always been fascinated by the number of musician/photographers there are - including many on this site.

    Cheers,

    David
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Being slightly biased by my natonality, I have been trying to capture Kjempeviseslåtten by Harald Sæverud on film for many years. Too often I end up with Grieg instead.
     
  13. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Miles Davis and Duke Ellington
     
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  15. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Ole, I hope that I am wrong, but when you get to be my age your negatives might have much in common with Knight on Bald Mountain.
     
  16. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    Boy do I know what Weston was talking about! I hear solo piano works by Bach in my head during quieter moments whilst out with my camera.

    Absolutely Gould is the printer. A master printer at that. Just listen to his 1981 recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations. I've always thought a b&w photograph was like a performance by a solo instrument. Just as a photograph contains only shades of gray Z-0 to Z-10, A piano recording only contains a range of tones from the piano. Each tone is only differentiated from the previous by the frequency. Sustain can be likened to the amount of a given tone in a print.
     
  17. André E.C.

    André E.C. Member

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    ...like a Chet Baker track!

    Cheers

    André
     
  18. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    In the case of one my prints: "Happy Birthday" played by a tone deaf, one armed man on a rusty trombone that had been sat on by a hippopotamus, who has only ever played castanets before (the man that is: not the hippo, who, for all ones knows, may be a virtuoso on the trombone, having spent many years at a local conservatoire before becoming First Trombonist for the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra after many more years (black rhinos were of course banned from all symphony orchestras during the apartheid years so our hippo was lucky there - lucky in that hippos are often mistaken for rhinoceroses, but are in fact easy to tell apart as hippos spend most of their time in water whereas rhinos are hydrophobic and rarely enter water, as evidenced by the fact that you very rarely see a rhino waterskiing). But as I say, no one knows. Hippos are notoriously shy and modest about their musical accomplishments: you'll never hear one boasting about them, that's for sure).

    Bob.
     
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  19. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I've always thought a b&w photograph was like a performance by a solo instrument. Just as a photograph contains only shades of gray Z-0 to Z-10, A piano recording only contains a range of tones from the piano. Each tone is only differentiated from the previous by the frequency. Sustain can be likened to the amount of a given tone in a print.

    And those obsessed with sharpness are like the musicians obsessed with loudness.
     
  20. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    Depends on my mood, on the very quiet days it can be the gentle beauty of Chet Baker's singing or Joe Pass on jazz guitar. On the other hand the black satanic days can lead to Led Zeplin at high volumes being the choice.
     
  21. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Why does this make me think of Tom Waits???
     
  22. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    For me it would be silence. Black and white is about silence, and the absence of disruption. Color is noisy, vibrant, and often disruptive.

    Ever noticed that some films that use a cut from color to B&W also at the same time cut the sound either to silence or a muffled sound?
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    not sure ... for a long time i wanted to record a subway station noise and run an endless loop ... but i would also settle for and instrumental or two by TG or ( " EZ Listening Favorites")muzak .
     
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  24. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Anything recorded by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messangers on Blue Note!!
    Or Monk's Mysterioso.
     
  25. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    It is the sound of one hand clapping.
     
  26. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Hah! John Cage's "433".