Seminar Dock Of The Bay 2019
Z Aretoa, Tabakalera
Thursday 10th january, 2019
16:30 — 20:00 h.
Music, image, narrative
"I was wondering whether music might be the only example of what communication between souls might have been if language, word formation and the analysis of ideas had not been invented. Music is like a possibility that has not been realised"
(Marcel Proust, The Prisoner)
1. A second hand / A vinyl hand
The third track on Side A was Yesterday.
I'd found the compilation in an out-of-town street market long before the re-releases came out in 2015, when finding a Beatles vinyl in good condition for less than eighty euros was not far short of a titanic effort. The whole record was impeccable, except that third track on the A side. This is the inimitable gesture that second-hand records have: when you come back to them, you're listening to the time they shared with their anonymous former owners. So, Yesterday.
The traditional record is a funny thing: to retrace it is to destroy it, to experience it is to erode it. It isn't surprising that they're round like clocks - and, by the way, just as relentless. Something’s wrong when we age faster than our record collection.
Audio enthusiasts say that what we're getting back by returning to vinyl is not so much a certain inimitable quality or a certain richness of sound. Rather than that we're recovering a very specific way of perceiving our own past in phenomenological terms, going back to a way of experiencing sound that cannot be reproduced on any other equipment. What this means is we're using music to re-read our own past. As Ricoeur also said: When we read a text, we are really reading ourselves.
2. An image / A narrative
It may seem naive to call for a return to narrative in music documentary at a time when everything is sold as being fragmented, liquid and unstructured. Narrative seen not so much as a classic imposition of genres, views, camera positions and a way of setting up a certain story (that of a band, a song or a concert), but rather as a way of organising the viewer's experience as an intimate, trusting, well-directed transmission.
In music documentary passion or learning are generally allowed because everything depends on gesture: how a plectrum is held, or taking a breath before hitting a certain note, or standing under the spotlight. Anything that puts an end to talking heads and returns real musical power to the image: ritornellos by Deleuze and Guattari, Jimi Hendrix solos, talcum powder to dance Northern in a club in Wigan. Recovering gesture to recover our own past: individual, group, invented, betrayed, revived.
This year, the Dock of the Bay Seminar: "Music, Image, Narrative", organised by the Department of Culture of the Gipuzkoa provincial authority, invites us to consider the role of narrative in music documentary, its connections with literature, theatre or fine art, its structures, anomalies and transmissions. In short, we want to explain music (to ourselves) through film.
Aarón Rodríguez Serrano
Coordinator of the Dock of the Bay Seminar