Wednesday, July 28, 2010


David New's short portrait of composer R. Murray Schafer may only last a little over 6 minutes but every moment is loaded with cranked up ambient sounds, gorgeous cinematography, and life altering quotes. "If you listen carefully, your life is enhanced." "In a way the world is a huge musical composition that's going on all the time... We are the composers of this huge miraculous composition that's going on around us... We can improve it or we can destroy it."

Schafer believes recordings are not real sound. "A real sound, of course, is absolutely unique. It has an excitement about it and probably an authenticity of fidelity that will never be achieved by recordings." One of the most interesting concepts is how every sound "commits suicide." The aural experience is so subjective and context sensitive, that the very nature of sound is for it to be fleeting and non-reproducible. At the end of the film, all recorded sound is cut off and Schafer holds up a sign that says "Listen." The ambient sound around you, strangers' voices, the A/C, the wind, bird songs, these things become the finale of Listen making it a unique experience every time you watch it.

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