Sunday, June 04, 2006

A Film That Wasn't Made

Without a camera, I wore a hat and traveled to the World Financial Center. It was the Bang On a Can marathon. The attraction I couldn't deny would be to Anthony Braxton, legendary jazz saxophonist and composer. He had composed an hour-long piece for 100 tubas. They were split into 4 groups of 25 and marched around the main square in small groups.

The film I didn't make would be composed of the following parts:

-close-up long takes of Anthony Braxton's arms: gesticulating violently but eliciting only gurgling rumbles from the instruments. He heard more than I did. This will be cut with shots of the 3 other bandleaders, less expressive in their movement but just as exact - the moments when the tubas let out explosive squeals will shock the viewers out of their seats.

-a pretentious tableau of ship masts bobbing in the harbor as the soundtrack makes full use of stereo sound. The groups used call-and-response often, communicating to each other amidst the masses of people. The surround sound will approximate this conversation as the masts nod in approval.

-a girl wearing a black and red striped shirt. she had streaks of grey in her hair like another girl I once knew. I kept running into this new one. Both of us were wandering throughout the different groups more than others, it was better to get a sense of the totality that way. I thought we shared this aesthetic decision. Did she, or did she just need the exercise? This is for the viewer to determine.

-families taking photographs: in particular, a wild-haired baby held by her young beautiful mother as tubas make barely audible sounds.

-one tuba player leaving the pack, and entering the World Financial building. Miraculously, he rejoins the band from the opposite part of the courtyard minutes later. How was this possible? Magic!

-a close-up of people's reflections in the maw of the tuba, we spread out like fans on the polished brass - a loud honking sound will distract people from this curious image.

-admirers following the tuba players into the building at the close - followed by Braxton making a speech I find hard to hear. Something about America and what our potential is. He was enthusiastic and then thanked the musicians.

-a helicopter shot of this new community that has been created, and that is ever shifting, as each group stops, plays, and moves to another spot, the crowd mutating each time. It will be geometrically pleasing like Busby Berkeley, except there will be no dancing. It is not a danceable tune.


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