Watch “The Stroke,” a Hand-Animated Music Video Where the Visuals Came First & the Improvised Music Second

The idea of a film score seems clear enough. Writ­ers, direc­tors, and edi­tors make a visu­al sto­ry, then com­posers enhance it with songs, cues, and themes. But things are nev­er so straight­for­ward in prac­tice. Music is always a part of the process, whether in the screenwriter’s choice of accom­pa­ni­ment (Taran­ti­no choos­es film music as soon as he has an idea for a film), the director’s mood dur­ing film­ing, or the “temp score” edi­tors use. Musi­cals are obvi­ous excep­tions, but on the whole, sto­ry and images come first, if not in the process, then in the viewer’s imag­i­na­tion.

A music video works dif­fer­ent­ly, “scor­ing” pre­re­cord­ed music with images, which then become accom­pa­ni­ment, a sec­ondary part added lat­er as enhance­ment. It is “an under­tak­ing Vin­cent de Boer knows well,” Grace Ebert writes at Colos­sal. “The Nether­lands-based artist has been work­ing with the jazz quar­tet Ill Con­sid­ered since 2017, lis­ten­ing to the band’s large­ly impro­vised melodies and cre­at­ing abstract ani­ma­tions, along­side stills for its 11 album cov­ers, to match.” In his most recent col­lab­o­ra­tion with the band, how­ev­er, de Boer got to take the lead.

“The Stroke” began with a painstak­ing ani­ma­tion that took two years to com­plete, a process you can see doc­u­ment­ed in the mak­ing-of video above. “With the help of his cre­ative part­ner Hans Schut­ten­beld, de Boer hand-drew 4,056 frames that range from dark, geo­met­ric shapes to gan­g­ly crea­tures to scenes that morph from one trip­py com­po­si­tion to the next.” De Boer describes the six and a half-minute piece as “the sto­ry of a brush­stroke: a trace of a move­ment per­formed by the artist with his instru­ment, the paint­brush.”

Once de Boer fin­ished the film, he passed it on to Ill Con­sid­ered, “who record­ed an entire­ly impro­vised track on its first view­ing.” The two come togeth­er at the top in a music video that “match­es the jazzy riffs with de Boer’s shapeshift­ing sequences in a cohe­sive con­ver­sa­tion between the two art­forms.” Can we call it a “music video” in a tra­di­tion­al sense? Or a kind of ekphra­sis in sound? Would we know, with­out the back­sto­ry, that the images came first?

Ill Con­sid­ered has also released “The Stroke” as an LP, “pack­aged with 12 of de Boer’s orig­i­nal art­works on the cov­er and inside” (see a selec­tion above and below)–a fur­ther chal­lenge to our seem­ing desire to rank sound and image. Which came first? Does it mat­ter? Can we see what Ill Con­sid­ered heard when they impro­vised over de Boer’s swirling draw­ings? Can we hear what de Boer was play­ing with the “instru­ment” of his brush? One thinks of the synes­the­sia of Kandin­sky, who saw music in his paint­ings, and of David Bowie, sit­ting in his blue room, won­der­ing about the gift of sound and vision….

via Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:  

Watch Clas­si­cal Music Come to Life in Art­ful­ly Ani­mat­ed Scores: Stravin­sky, Debussy, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart & More

Watch Ani­mat­ed Scores to Music by Radio­head, Talk­ing Heads, LCD Soundsys­tem, Photek & Oth­er Elec­tron­ic/­Post-Punk/A­vant-Garde Musi­cians

Spheres Dance to the Music of Bach, Per­formed by Glenn Gould: An Ani­ma­tion from 1969

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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  • Laurence Goldman says:

    The ani­ma­tion is real­ly cool=well done. It is way bet­ter with­out the sound­track. I found the music so annoy­ing I had to turn it off. The per­cus­sion is espe­cial­ly hor­rif­ic. It sim­ply DOES NOT FIT. The visu­als are not met­ri­cal­ly cadenced. I would have cho­sen some­thing like solo shakuhatchi-the sax is a poor choice here. I would have looked to some­thing more John Cagey. Some­thing more abstract-more organ­ic. If you had to have sax, I would have con­sult­ed Ornette Cole­man were he alive.

    The music you have for sure is too dom­i­nant. I real­ly hope you re-think the sound. This piece is not fin­ished.

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