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Film series to explore outer limits of music PDF Print E-mail
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Arts & Entertainment Editor   
Friday, 20 January 2012 10:41
Grounds for Thoughts has hosted a variety of musical acts over the years, and now a new monthly film series at the downtown Bowing Green coffee shop will stretch those boundaries even further.
"Other Musics: Four Free Films on Free Sounds" will begin with a screening of "Rising Tones Cross," a 1985 documentary by Ebba Jahn about free jazz in New York City, Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Three more showings are planned: on Feb. 21; a double bill of "Between the Notes: A Portrait of Pandit Pran Nath" and "Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds" on March 20; and "Theremin: An Electronic Odyssey" on April 24. All shows at 7 p.m.
The series is the collective effort of Phil Dickinson, associate chair of the English Department at Bowling Green State University, and Rob Wallace, who also teaches English at BGSU.
Wallace said the initial impetus for the series came when he and Dickinson, both of whom play drums, realized they had similar tastes in music.
Dickinson said the series was prompted by a desire to spread the word about music not often heard in these parts in a time when one can hear the "same 200 songs" on any radio station.
Dickinson said the organizers wants to "let people know there's a wonderful world of sound out there."
While the music, free-form rock and jazz, classical Indian music and early electronic sounds is "underexposed," it has had a greater resonance through society. "These films together will show that influence," Wallace said.
The first offering explores the free jazz scene in New York in the 1980s.
While it features performances, it also involves commentary. Saxophonist Charles Gayle is especially articulate talking both about the music and engaging in a dialogue about race with German bassist Peter Kowald, Wallace said.
The second film in the series, "Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany" from 2009, explores the avant rock scene in Germany in the late 1960s and 1970s, when Germany was struggling to secure a post-World War II identity.
"Krautrock," Wallace said, is actually derogatory term coined by the English, who doubted the Germans ability to create their own genre of rock music.
Dickinson said the Germans employed the open-ended improvisational ethos of free jazz to the music.
The double feature on March 20 shows the wide-ranging influence of music that to some can seem marginal.
"Between the Notes" is a half-hour portrait of Indian singer Pandit Pran Nath. Through his students LaMonte Young and Terry Riley he had a far-reaching impact on those American composers known as the minimalists.
A longerĀ  portrait of Indian master Ravi Shankar, the musician most responsible for popularizing Indian music in the West, will also be shown that night.
The final film scheduled showcases the theremin, an early electronic instrument. The theremin's eerie swoon gave the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations," its signature sound.
The story shows how music can be entwined in a broader narrative. The inventor, Leon Theremin, was a spy, and there's even a love story.
Wallace said: "It invokes science and technology and the Space Age."
 

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