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Kathleen's Final Project: Soundtrack to Robert Breer's Blazes


Blazes is a three-minute film directed by Robert Breer, a well-known avant-garde artist, animator, and film director. Created in 1962, this short film displays Breer’s signature style: animation, playful abstraction, and fast-moving images. In Breer’s own words, Blazes is essentially “One hundred basic images switching positions for four thousands frames. A continuous explosion.” Indeed, the film consists of stills resembling abstract paintings of basic shapes in basic colors, cut and combined in different ways and rhythms.

My Project

For my final project I have composed a soundtrack to Blazes. Unfortunately, the full 35mm version is not available at Princeton. Thus, my piece accompanies the one minute version provided on YouTube. Blazes has an original soundtrack; however, my composition reflects my own interpretation of the film. Through experimentation with rhythm, timing, volume, filters, chords, and other elements, I have tried to highlight the interesting contrasts of the film. Clear and blurred sounds, sustained and staccato notes, deliberate rhythms and spontaneous randomization, discernible basic shapes and frenetic abstractions, and discrete parts and the unified whole are some of the pairs which I have explored in parallel to the visual images.

The objective and challenge of this project has been to create an interesting composition that is neither accompaniment nor mere enhancement to the visual images, but a subtle and vibrant soundscape that can stand alone. While injecting my own creativity, I have tried to capture certain inalienable qualities of Breer’s film and soundtrack: the humor, play, and especially the kinetic energy.


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