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Film has been accompanied by music since its birth. In the cradle, a ballroom pianist lulled it with clumsy chords on a broken piano. As film grew up, it began to speak, and then to sing. The appearance of color finally confirmed the cinema as a synthetic visual art, putting it on a par with its older friends: drama, opera, and ballet. 

And all these years, film theoreticians and practitioners have sought new forms of interaction between image and sound, or music. In the 1920s, the first attempts were made to create “visual symphonies” (Germaine Dulac, Vuillermoz, André Obey), but these were not seriously pursued. During that period, the ideas of “integral cinegraphy” were not utilized, conceding to the prevailing view expressed ironically by Igor Stravinsky: “Music in film has the same relation to drama as restaurant music to a dinner-table conversation.” 

Experiments with music continued in the 1950s in connection with the appearance of film versions of famous Broadway musicals (Funny Girl, etc.), but they showed little inventiveness. In art films, Andrei Tarkovsky made the most progress in his search. “Sound must join film as an artistic tool, as a technique with which we want to say something...,” he said, “film as a form is closer to the musical structure of the material. Here it is not the logic of the flow of events that matters, but the form of the flow of events.” In his last works in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Tarkovsky completely abandoned decorative “film music,” and the harmonic connection of classical music, sound/noise and image that he achieved had an unexpected synergetic effect. Unfortunately, this line also was not pursued.
 
At about the same time, but at the other end of the rapidly growing audio-visual industry, a new phenomenon arose, which came to be called the “video clip.” Born of simple concert recordings, at the juncture of television and film, video clips soon evolved into a special video genre, without which we cannot imagine contemporary television today. In their best exemplars, video clips illustrate how melody and sound can not only serve the visual imagery, but also play an important shaping role. 

Video clips owe their birth and incredible success to their parents, the revolutions in information technology (digital film) and globalization. The appearance of inexpensive high-quality video cameras has reduced the complexity and cost of the filming process, making it more accessible to professionals and millions of amateurs. At the same time, the blurring of boundaries has created a single informational and cultural space and transformed the world into a “global village.” One important element of globalization has been the demand for the most unified, easily mastered, “formatted” product, ready for consumption in any part of the global information field, from Alaska to China. Video clips have filled this niche, generating the term “clip creation” corresponding to a post- modernist view of the world in an era of growing interdependence, hyper consumption, and new speeds. 
We should mention another worldwide phenomenon of the late twentieth century, when the conventional nature of the division of human knowledge by inviolable sharp boundaries inherited from the nineteenth century became obvious. The most brilliant discoveries have begun to be made at the junction of related natural (and social) sciences, which has reaffirmed the idea of global unity. This is also true of the art world, where familiar boundaries between genres are rapidly fading, and new synthetic forms that initially are difficult even to define are appearing. 

The time seems to have come to reexamine traditional principles of the interaction between music and image in film. The pioneer here could be Tarkovsky’s tenet that “visual methods must be balanced with acoustic methods.” 
It has been shown that when a person receives information via the visual and auditory channels at the same time, it does not conflict, but is perceived harmoniously: the two complement and enrich each other. The vector of their psychological impact on the person, however, is multidirectional. Music operates with shared audio forms, and specific internal associations are produced separately in each person’s consciousness, often not matching. In contrast, the visual image is very specific and only encourages our conscious (and subconscious) mind to form common ideas and perceptions, depending on a large number of factors. There is also a temporal separation—music impacts the person more immediately, more directly, while the visual picture requires “decoding” by the conscious mind. These two curves move in different directions; as L. Landry wrote in 1931, “Successfully calculating the intersection of the two curves—that would be the ideal of the musical film of the future.” 

But how can this be achieved in practice? We must begin by removing all the chatter that prevents direct interaction between image and music, i.e., dialogue, and human speech in general. Return to the “silent” films and ballroom pianists? Not at all! By removing human speech, we allow the music (from a symphonic work to a modern jazz melody and song) to make the fullest use of its tools to express the content of the story occurring on the screen (drama, comedy, clowning). The dramaturgy, rhythm, and other familiar attributes of film remain unchanged. But surely this cannot be an ordinary video clip, the skeptical reader will say, and he will be wrong. Even in the best video clips (for example, those with Michael Jackson) the story’s protagonist is (are) the performer(s) of a musical “number.” But we are speaking of music merging with the frame, becoming an integral audio component of the story playing out on the screen. And finally, complete freedom is needed in the selection not only of the musical form most appropriate to the visual imagery (symphonic, vaudeville, song, etc.), but also of the film or video form— documentary, game, short or long, etc. 
We have named this new form of film the “VieClip,” from the French vie meaning “life,” by analogy with video clips. The term fairly accurately reflects the end result that we would like to achieve by blending image and sound. We hope the result of this experiment, which will rely on the talent of young directors and the imagination of the audience, will be a fundamentally new film-video product that gains wide recognition. 

Thus, if we attempt to summarize what we have said and characterize the main distinguishing features, there will be only four: 
  • * the replacement of human speech (dialogue, monologue, author’s texts) with the musical track;
  • * deliberate absence from the screen of the performer of the musical composition;
  • * the presence of a plot or story in the development, from outset to conclusion; and
  • * a lack of format constraints (documentary, game, experimental).
This fairly broad framework will create, we hope, an extensive field for creativity and experimentation. For example, I can supply a five-minute sentimental VieClip on one day in the life of a homeless
Parisian toy dog accompanied by a French song. Or a ten-minute military drama on the events in Syria to the music of Bach (recall the famous helicopter attack in Apocalypse Now, set to the music of Vagner). This reminds us of an unfinished Tarkovsky project, when he invited the leading masters of world cinema to submit 10 different films with the same plot. A VieClip offers an excellent opportunity to realize that project, by substituting music for the plots. One melody could form the basis for ten or a hundred different stories or visual interpretations. Imagine how many interesting and different vie clips could be shot to the music of Gershwin or Mozart. At first glance, the creation of VieClips might suggest a game, an amateur production of short duration on a modest budget. In fact, achieving full compliance and merger of the sound track and visual imagery will require quite a bit of professional skill, imagination, and knowledge of the specifics of both genres. I am confident that in the immediate future, this will attract thousands of people wishing to test their mettle in the new genre, especially among young cinematographers. 
Looking forward to see you at the first festival of VieClips in 2019!

©Dr. Igor Runov