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Musical Stairs

Guy Sherwin
1977
10mins black & white sound 16mm

Musical Stairs

Images of the metal stairs leading to the London Film-Makers' Co-op are converted into rhythmic sounds as they pass through the projector.

Musical Stairs is one of a series of films in which sounds are made directly from the images in the film, by printing them into the soundtrack area of the film.

I shot the images of a staircase specifically for the range of sounds they might produce. A simple procedure gives rise to a musical scale in eleven steps; the more stairs that are included in the frame, the higher the pitch of sound. A range of volumes is introduced by varying the exposure; the darker the image, the louder the sound. The fact that the staircase is neither a synthetic image nor a particularly clean one (there happened to be leaves on the staircase when I shot the film) means that the sound is not pure, but overlaid with strange harmonics.
G.S.

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