St James, Marty
The soundtrack to Adagio No.8 investigates strategies of synchronisation in the context of video material exhibiting a prominent visual rhythm. Rather than overloading the visual rhythm with sonic events tightly synchronised at the micro structural level, here the compositional approach is aimed at identifying, bring out and resolve larger structural points, so to achieve a unifying effect and lend a narrative shape to an otherwise abstract image sequence. Synchronisation has not yet been sufficiently explained or theorised, and all we have is an unclear and inconsistent picture of the phenomenon. Michel Chion’s ‘synch points,’ defined as ‘Audiovisually salient synchronous meeting of a sound event and a sight event’ (Chion, 1994) remain inadequate for explaining synchronisation in its full operative spectrum – a work may feature a significant degree of synchronisation without necessarily exhibit any point of particularly ‘salient’ audio-visual intersection. The soundtrack to Adagio No. 8 points to a broader understanding of synchronisation as a strategy of structural alignment between the audio/visual strands. Synch points are displaced (anticipated or delayed with respect to the individual micro events), and all (abruptly occurring) section changes are not immediately acknowledged by the soundtrack – the soundtrack is aligned to a higher structural level that evolves in relation to each film’s section while also articulating a longer gesture that bridges them all. Until the two, film’s and music’s discourse, finally meet decidedly at the switch between sections 7 to 8, the only moment in the film in which, unexpectedly, a hard synch point comes in, cutting abruptly the climax built up to then. The strategy of displacement is then resumed for the final section, reaffirming the relative autonomy of the audio and visual strands established in the piece through a calibrated structural alignment that gives rise to the repeated meeting and parting of audio and visuals.