in half light
and whole hearted
to half agree
half in love
half in hate
all by halves
is a game
of two halves
half a job
with half a heart
half an eye
half a mind
half a home
half a bed
is half truth
“The link between art and real history is the fact that works of art are structured like monads. History may be called the content of works of art. Analysing them is the same as becoming conscious of the immanent history stored up in them.” Adorno (1970, p.126).
The bedrock of this essay has been to show how Ligeti’s Atmosphères moved itself away from classical traditions of composing orchestral music. The parallel drawn by doing so has been to argue for its use in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and while there is no definite answer as to what Kubrick was thinking when using Ligeti’s music, it is clear from the musical analysis that there are indeed a number of ties as well as ironies.
Through its instrumentation, rhythm and meter, tonality and structure, Atmosphères is a clear break away from what could be…
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2001: Narrative and Musical Parallels.
“Ultimately, 2001 is a film that suspends that coordination of the human body, and thus human nature, in such conditions- even as it suspends our final judgments about human nature in its open-ended conclusion about our future development.” Decker – (2007, p.101).
One of the biggest omens that a piece of music is given preference in cinema is when the visuals are dictated to rather than added to. Kubrick’s opening to 2001: A Space Odyssey is a great example of this relationship but is also telling of the music itself. Emphasis on the film’s score has always been a method of basic analysis of the film as this excerpt from Naremore’s chapter on the film from On Kubrick suggests:
“During the editing, Kubrick eliminated a few scenes and became so enamoured of the “needle drops” of classical recordings he had…
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Ethereal and sinister
Musical Techniques of Atmosphères and Disassociations with the Past.
“Seen from this angle, with Atmosphères I was consciously reacting against the refinement of serialism. Musical texture in Atmosphères is also refined but in quite a different dimension.” -Ligeti (1983, p.38).
Before even looking in any depth at the notational content of Ligeti’s Atmosphères, it becomes clear to the reader when looking over the piece’s prefatory notes, that this is not a typical example of orchestral music. In fact, these opening notes make very clear that Atmosphères is almost deliberately against the grain of more typical orchestral works, even explicitly so in Ligeti’s descriptive language and instructions to the musicians. Everything about this piece of music has an angst-ridden rebellion ingrained into its every motive, not merely just its tonality and musicality but even down to its structure, its treatment of rhythm and the various ways classical instruments…
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This film introduced me to Ligeti. Forever grateful.
Ligeti’s Atmosphères as a Musical Foreshadowing of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
“First in Cologne in 1957 and later during my long stay in Vienna in the ’60s, I gradually evolved a musical style in which I abandoned structures conceived in terms of bars, melodies, lines and conventional forms. In this respect my first two orchestral works, Apparitions and Atmosphères, are the most radical. Atmosphères is just floating, fluctuating sound, although it is polyphonic.” Ligeti – (1983, p.14).
Stanley Kubrick was a director who was very specific in his use of composed and sourced music in his films. His relationship with sound and music is one of the most analysed in audio-visual academia and his musical choices have lead to an endless stream of readings within his work. Towards the middle of his career, he began to experiment with classical music of the 20th century rather than…
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One of my favourite films
At this moment in time, I’m currently between two relatively heavy audio-visual essays. The first (which is now finished and will be going online in segments from the end of the month) is about Andrei Tarkovsky’s film, The Sacrifice (1986) and how it has parallel aims with that of the Russian composer Scriabin and his unfinished work, Mysterium. The second is looking at Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and how Ligeti’s Atmospheres (through musical techniques and ideas) foreshadows Kubrick’s and Clarke’s narrative.
I’m not merely writing this article for a cathartic exercise but because the essays are starting to interlock and I’m finding that one is helping with the understanding of the other. This is an understanding of the films rather than simply a flimsy use of academic excessiveness. By applying the theories from one essay to the other, for the first time in a while, I…
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Restore my faith in what note,
as I climb the stairs
of arboreal crustaceans of words
mouthed through the clear glass
of the winter gardens
as I chow down on my flat earth pizza,
see kids wander with parents
finding white elephants
under the tropical shrubbery,
and paint their designs
on the elephant, name him,
so it is all displayed
beneath the clear glass
arches for a children’s hospital
charity. O, how my words fail.