Archive for November 7th, 2016


by Sam Juliano

                                           And in the naked light I saw
                                           Ten thousand people, maybe more
                                           People talking without speaking
                                           People hearing without listening.         -Paul Simon

An astounding anecdote was reported in the afterward of The Sound of Silence by the author Katrina Goldsaito.  One of the cinema’s greatest composers, Toru Takemitsu, lived in the house right next door to her father as he grew up in Tokyo.  When Goldsaito’s father asked the famous maestro “What is your favorite sound?” the answer came back that he had two:  “the wind through bamboo and the sound of silence.”  This latter musical concept, central to Takemitsu’s approach was shared by the great Frenchman Robert Bresson, who likewise understood that silence must be understood and interspersed between the creation of sounds for a truly effective aural embodiment.  Goldsaito relates that Takemitsu, in his book Confronting Silence that one day on the crowded Tokyo subway, he realized he must incorporate the sounds of the city into his compositions and that he wanted to give “meaning to the stream of sounds that penetrates the world we live in.”  Takemitsu invariably imparted this acoustic cognizance in a prolific career, weaving his inimitable compositions for some of the greatest Japanese cinematic luminaries including, Kurosawa, Oshima, Teshigahara, Shinoda, Ichikawa, Inamura and perhaps most famously for Masaki Kobayashi, and his 1965 ghost story omnibus Kwaidan, where he establishes the first episode’s mood and atmosphere well before a single character is seen onscreen.  In an interview Takemitsu declared “I wanted to create an atmosphere of terror.  But if the music is constantly saying, “Watch out!  Be scared!” then all the tension is lost.  It’s like sneaking up behind someone to scare them.  First, you have to be silent.  Even a single sound can be film music…We used real wood for effects.  I’d ask for a cra-a-a-ck sound, and they’d split a plank of wood, or rip it apart, or rend it with a knife.  Using all these sounds I assembled the sounds.”  In visual terms one could hardly appreciate or understand the luminosity of daylight without the corresponding blackness of the night..

Goldsaito’s mission in The Sound of Silence is to examine in a contemporary setting on the streets of Tokyo the  aural holding pattern between sounds, known in the vernacular as Ma, and to depict its elusive quality to a young boy named Yoshio, though as the resplendent tapestries throughout the book showcase by the subtle application of color, this desired quietude is omnipresent.  The color employment is a veritable purveyor of mood and an extension of sound decimal.  Ma is attained after assimilation is reached. The book’s title of course immediately evokes the venerated mid-60’s song of the same name by Simon and Garfunkle, although the generally accepted meaning of that song -the inability of people to communicate with each other emotionally – is a far cry from what Takemitsu and his devoted adherent Goldsaito have deemed vital in the understanding of sounds, whether they be how they are couched in an art form or deciphered in everyday life.  The author’s collaborator is the illustrator Julia Kuo, and the finished product not only confirmed she was up to this rather intricate assignment, but she brought the highest level of pictorial sublimity and thematic mastery to this unique enterprise. (more…)

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by Sam Juliano

After months of media insanity we have reached the end of the long journey that commenced back in February.  The Trump vs. Clinton contest will soon -finally- be decided and I think the vast majority of us know well that a woman will soon be elected to the White House.  Mind you, it should go no other way, and I don’t completely rule out an upset in what appears to be a close race, but in going over state-by-state pollings it doesn’t seem that Trump has a path unless he runs the table with the swing states that are too close to call as of Sunday night.  Impossible?  Not at all.  Probable?  Not very. But the best part of all this is that we can move on to subjects and interests far more rewarding and to that I say yes!!!

Lucille, the five kids, Broadway Bob and I attended a Jimmy Webb concert on Friday night in Bethelem, Pennsylvania and we were thrilled to hear the baby boomer era song writer perform on piano his standards – “MacArthur Park,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Galveston” “Worst That Can Happen” among others.  Webb did quite a bit of talking in between the songs, serving as a kind of stand up comic.  Some of that shtick worked, some did not.  For me hearing him do “MacArthur Park” and “Phoenix” two of my favorite songs ever was worth the long trip, though we did sleep in a hotel and traveled over to the Amish Country in Lancaster where we spent time at the wonderful Kitchen Kettle Village, having an early dinner at the family style Good and Plenty.  A ride on the horse and buggy and a trip through the farms also occupied our stay there.  We stayed at the accommodating Old Amish Inn on Saturday night and returned home on Sunday afternoon.  Not a movie week, but the coming seven day period will yield several in theaters as per plans.  We are approaching the time of the year that traditionally is the richest.


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