Monday, January 11, 2010

Instant Jam: the Ecstatic Truth

We'll shoot for an hour. Let's see what happens. Songs might just magically create themselves... Just jam.

Then. We can later take a clip from the footage and upload that. It's an old idea. We have yet to do it. Now we just have to make it happen.

Keep shooting, I tell myself. Shoot everything. Wait! Get some lights in here. It's too dark. Plug in the Horn of Plenty. This is interfering with reality, I know. But I'm trying to show a greater truth here.

I'm reminded of what Werner Herzog calls the "Ecstatic Truth" - the deeper essential truth of that moment being captured. Truth is: the rice wine with sushi at dinner has gone to my head and our guests have already taken up instruments and have started playing. I pick up my instrument: a video camera. It makes a quiet beep.

"I wish I could jam with you guys musically," I say. "But I've got the camera. And I have an idea." I'll try a few takes.

Tammy with ClapboardI startle the musicians intermittently with the clapboard. (Clap!) "Can you guys do something called 'What's Bred in the Bone'?" The book on the shelf keeps grabbing my eye.

"What's Bread in the Bone?" No. It's B - R - E - D. As in the Robertson Davies novel on my shelf over here. Yeah. Try making something up. Let's see what happens...
Josh Fewings and Michael Morritt
Josh Fewings and Michael MorrittI shoot for over an hour... Tomorrow I'll look at the footage and see if a there's a solid chunk of good stuff in there somewhere. Jamming like this and making up words on the spot is a fun way of discovering a song. A recording becomes a writing tool. The song gets re-written and shaped.

For this video, it's a different story. There's no going back and re-writing anything. In this jam, the video is my instrument, and we all just get one chance to do it, so I must coordinate my camera moves with the flow of the music. I have to tell the "story" in one take.

Morritt on KeysI jump in with blind trust. Yeah. Swing the camera over here: the bookshelf. Look at those titles. Neuromancer by William Gibson. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Wild Goose Jack by Jack Miner. I swing the camera toward Tammy. Close-up on Mike and Josh. Something's happening now. Maybe this could be the take. I keep myself steady and interested.

What's Bred in the Bone
by Tammy Lin Foreman

I want you to know
What is bred in the bone
Will not out of the flesh

I saw at last
and I knew
this time won't last forever
this time will come to an end
more time will come behind to
take over once again

hour turned to the day
it turned to the week
it turned to the month
and said
now this year's
half over
I really love her
and I know she'll tic
talk like the sister before
like the sister before her

How can I make her stand still
She has no want for this
I see this is her beauty
I see this is her will

this time won't last forever
forever and ever...

this time will come to an end
more time will come behind to
take over once again

We have this in the can. Late night. Just like old times. Remember the Duty Free Jam sessions? That was just audio. The video needs a bit more "ecstatic truth" at the end. For good measure.

The Horn of Plenty


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