A note on recent studies

by copej

Half of this post is a little overdue. I’ll start there

I really enjoyed studying Aaron Copland and not only because we share a last name. One of my favorite movies is the Spike Lee 1998 film He Got Game. Here’s a short plot summary from Wikipedia:

Jesus Shuttlesworth (Ray Allen), a student at Lincoln High School from Coney Island, BrooklynNew York, is being pursued by the top college programs in the nation. His father, Jake (Denzel Washington), is a convicted felon serving time at Attica Correctional Facility for accidentally killing his wife (Jesus’ mother) by pushing her while arguing with Jesus at the age of 12. The father is temporarily released by the governor, an influential alum of “Big State,” one of the colleges Jesus is considering, so that he might direct his son to sign with the governor’s college in return for an early release.

It’s a really good film, and Spike Lee makes a very unexpected artistic decision by featuring the music of Copland on the soundtrack. Most of the action takes place in the  projects of Coney Island where Shuttlesworth lives. He’s not from a well-to-do area, and rap would seem to fit better with the plot. However, Spike Lee uses Copland to bring out the beauty in basketball. Many shots are in slo-mo and focus on the dexterity and smoothness of Shuttlesworth’s motion (it helps to have a future hall of fame NBA player as the actor). I suggest viewing the movie, and here’s a clip of the intro accompanied by Copland

The other half of my post also relates to the intersection of music and film. I’ll keep it short. At the end of class last Thursday, we briefly listened to Pärt’s “Spiegel Im Spiegel” and discussed it’s simple rhythm and melody using triads. However, the piece itself does elicit an overwhelming emotion when put in the right context. The recent movie Gravity is a 90-minute emtional rollercoaster, and the trailers feature Pärt’s piece; I think it’s very effective.