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.Before I continue with this argument, let me make clear that I am not trying to give an account of Adorno’s musical aesthetics (which is not my expertise), but instead to draw out certain strands from it that might fill in the gaps in his insufficiently articulated aesthetics of film.This does not mean that Adorno’s reflections on time and movement in music can simply be translated into film aesthetics.While both share salient features as essentially temporal arts, if we ignore the obvious material differences between the two media, we might easily end up with a version of the ontology of synesthetic equivalences that Adorno and Eisler had criticized in Composing for the Films.As is well known, the idea of film as visual music was widespread during the silent period—for example, in French Impressionist film of the 1920s, experiments in abstract film, the genre of city symphonies, and the writings and films of Eisenstein.Notions of cinematic musicality—rhythmic montage, motivic patterns, the interplay of formal systems—were often coupled with the ideal of “pure cinema,” the aim to subordinate all representational, especially narrative, content to the formal unity of principles of musical composition.(The musical analogy was taken in a direction closer to Adorno by Noël Burch’s audacious effort to mobilize the principles of total serial music, in particular that of Pierre Boulez, for a theory of parametric form in film, elaborated in terms of oppositions and permutations at all levels of cinematic signification.Burch considers Tati’s Playtime as one of the main models of such parametric filmmaking, but his project also deserves revisiting in light of the algorithmic logic of digital media.83) David Bordwell calls the musical analogy “necessary even if troublesome,” because it “crystallizes the drive of film form toward multiple systems.” Yet what allows the analogy to persist is not the common denominator of ostensible purity, but precisely the tension with “cinema as a mixed representational mode, its unyielding impurity.”84 As I argue below, the possibility of making some of Adorno’s thinking on music productive for film is bound up with the fundamental heterogeneity and impurity of cinema.By this I mean not only its promiscuous borrowing from other arts and entertainment forms but also its constitutive combination of heterogeneous visual, graphic, and acoustic materials of expression, each with its own registers of temporality and mobility, organized to varying degrees of integration, continuity, balance, and closure or, conversely, tension, dissonance, disjunction, and openness.85Of course, a major difference between the temporality of film and that of music involves the issue of reproduction that was at the core of Adorno’s objections to Benjamin’s artwork essay.The relations between the time and movement inscribed on film, the static filmstrip, and the dynamics of projection differ substantially from the relations between the notation of a musical piece and its actualization— “reproduction,” interpretation—in performance.In technological terms, the more pertinent analogy might be that between film and recorded music (or between live transmission in television and in broadcast music).86 To be sure, the vagaries of time’s effect on musical notation—material corrosion, copying technologies, censorship, the interplay between performance practices and editorial changes— have put into question assumptions of a stable musical source text as much as comparable assumptions of a singular, original, integral, authoritative film print (and not just for the silent era).87 It is also the case that the electronic and digital availability of films has given viewers a greater freedom in performing and interpreting the film, although this does not make it the same thing as musical practices of improvisation and aleatory processes in performance.Indeed, it may be that the only level at which aspects of musical and cinematic time and movement can be usefully compared is that of the listening/viewing experience.As a temporal art, Adorno writes, music not merely unfolds in time; “it has time as its problem.”88 Inasmuch as musical form creates temporal relationships among its constituent parts and thus a temporal order of its own, it negates empirical time, in the sense of chronometric duration.Adorno insists, however, that empirical time returns in the inner historicity of the work, its internal temporal form, which “reflects real, external time.”89 If autonomous music “binds itself to time” and simultaneously “sets itself against it, antithetically,” this tension is exacerbated in modern music.It is here that music engages the experience of abstract, spatialized, commodified time by at once demonstrating what time has historically become and rupturing this naturalized regime; in its internal structure, modern music projects the possibility—as well as the memory—of different temporalities.90One of the central concerns in Adorno’s writings on Western musical form, from Bach and Beethoven through Wagner, Schönberg and Webern, is how the intratemporal organization of musical time varies both historically and from one type of music to the next.Broadly speaking, he discerns a trajectory from the developmental logic of classical form exemplified by Beethoven’s middle period— the successive, irreversible unfolding of musical events from the parts to the whole in parallel “with the pure flow of time”—to the disintegration of “big forms” in late Beethoven and romanticism, leading to fragmentary, microcellular, episodic complexes that “temporalize” the relationships from within, “from below to above, not the other way around.”91 This tendency advances to a new level with Expressionism and the Second Viennese School.Contemporary experimental music (that is, from the 1950s through the 1960s), in particular the seemingly opposed schools of total or integrated serialism and aleatory music, rebels against the very principle of temporal succession and thus, in Adorno’s view, collapses the dialectic of freedom and necessity.The dissolution of conventional musical forms also entailed an increasing dissociation of rhythm from metrical time.Initiated by romanticism, in particular Schubert, it was pushed further, in different ways, by Mahler, Berg, Bartok, and Stravinsky and radicalized by contemporary experimental music.This dissociation entailed both a greater independence of rhythm from chronometric structures and a transformation of its role and quality.Since Adorno takes the historical differentiation of musical materials to be irreversible, he levels the charge of regression against any type of modern music he takes to be relapsing into metrical rhythms, be it commercial jazz or Stravinsky.Thus, even as he credits jazz with having inspired and provided a broader acceptance for an “emancipation of the rhythmic emphasis from metrical time,” he denounces practices of syncopation and improvisation as pseudo-spontaneity and illusory self-expression, contained as they are within a “metrically conventional, banal architecture [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]