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By Aimee Mollaghan (auth.)

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Extra info for The Visual Music Film

Example text

118 In conclusion, attempts to legitimise absolute music during the Romantic period left it in an ambiguous position. In addition to embodying itself as a formal musical structure, devoid of specific content, it could now embody everything. Ultimately, however, music’s emancipation from the extra-musical, its freeing from an obligation to provide a meaningful contribution to society and its subsequent autonomy in the Romantic period, led to it becoming an ideal model for the other arts. It became specifically pertinent as a model for the absolute visual music film, which had been striving to find legitimacy as a distinct entity, from the twentieth century onwards.

The second movement, however, does What Constitutes a Visual Music Film? 29 not have any of the usual characteristics of a second symphonic movement. It expands and develops the themes established in the first movement but does not take the time to lyrically dwell on it, retaining, as it does, the same steady metrical compound time signature of the first movement. The lack of a contrast between these movements does not allow for a clear demarcation between movements, nor does it provide us with breathing space to digest the ideas of the first movement and, indeed, hardly gives us time to draw breath as it dives straight into extremely complex visual arrangements.

Thus, I will draw on these two categories as a theoretical framework with which to explore the visual music film. This chapter will examine the evolution of the concept of absolute music as developed in the nineteenth century. It will pay close attention to the legitimisation of music as an art form that could be considered in both purely musical and transcendent terms at the same time. Following on from this it will then consider how the development of visual music film relates to the concept of formal absolute music from the abstract black-and-white modernist animations of Hans Richter and the tinted expressionistic works of Walter Ruttmann in Germany in the 1920s to the minimalist Line films of Norman McLaren in Canada in the 1960s.

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