My Piano Sonata 3, manuscript notes


I’ve written about my Piano Sonata #3 in C here before, but today I want to provide a detailed and “definitive” reference – which may get updated from time to time.


I began to compose the work in December 1961, right after my William and Mary Expulsion, at age 18-1/2, shortly before starting at George Washington University while “living at home”.  I wrote in rag-tag small composition notebooks available to me at the time.  Since this wasn’t getting entered anywhere, I wasn’t particularly attentive to legibility.  But I actually composed the first two movements pretty quickly, and was ready for the slow movement by March.  (The “chum” from William and Mary visited me at the end of January and saw what the first movement would be like.)   Then schoolwork slowed me down.  I left aside until the spring of 1974, when I was living in the Rivercrest Apartments in Piscataway, NJ.  Having returned from spending most of the winter on a benchmark for Univac in Minnesota, I finished the slow movement, and sketched out a Finale, on regular staff paper.  By September I had moved into New York City, started working for NBC, was socially involved with the Ninth Street Center, and had pretty much laid it aside. I was 31 then.


The First Movement (16 min.) starts with an ambiguous introduction “Molto Moderato” and then precedes to the Exposition “Allegro Moderato” (Qr at 160), 4/4, a neoclassical little invention in C.  Passage to the second theme in A Minor, also playful, is immediate.  (The only well-established classical sonata movement in a major key with second theme in relative minor that I know of is Brahms’s First Piano Trio in B.)   The second theme slows down for a moment with a Lydian mode motif that had occurred to me in English class in 10th Grade when we were studying short stories, and stayed in mind forever.  The exposition is repeated (w/o the intro).  The development is marked “Adagio” at the start and a lot of it is in slow tempo.  (The major classical work that does something like this is the first movement of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony, in e minor, which I got a recording of – Scherchen’s on Westminster – some time in 1962.)  The music becomes detached, schizoid, and then goes into a twelve-tone fugato. The music tries to gather steam and disintegrates into cadenzas before getting some momentum again and building up to a romantic climax to start the Recapitulation, which states the first theme in grandiose chords but in E-fat Minor.  The second theme will come back transformed in C, and be almost “Brhamsian”.  The movement slows down and slips into minor and ends very quietly, in meditation.  A sustained quiet ending for this movement is mandatory for the whole concept to work.


The Second Movement (11 min.), in A-flat, is the Scherzo, 3 /4, at qr of 198.  The marking is “Allegro Moderato” but the sensation is that of speed, so “Vivace” would be more appropriate.  The pianist should play this opening fast and with virtuosity.  (It doesn’t lumber, like Bruckner.)  There are a lot of passages with octaves in eighth notes at high speed. The first Trio, in F Major, Moderato, in varying compound time signatures (like 9/4, 6/4) is a crude mockery of a march that comes back three times.  The trio is a mini-rondo itself as it is broken up by cadenza-like passages (in bizarre meters like 2/8).  The first part of the “exposition” in A-flat returns, to go to a second trio, which is a satirical waltz in C# Minor, which then pixilates. Finally, the “exposition” concludes in A-flat, and ends with one little flourish, FF, in the extreme registers of the piano.


The Third Movement (11 min.) is the Slow Movement or “Elegy”, and it starts with a 12-tone row, but “harmonized” in E-flat minor (a key used in the first movement to start the recapitulation).  There follows a main theme, a kind of dirge in F# minor, 12 /8, which had come to me when my father was recuperating from his minor heart attack over anxiety over my expulsion (it had happened to him around Feb. 15 when he was on business in Williamsburg, ironically;  he had driven home and was hospitalized briefly; he was told he had smoked his last cigarette).  Father often complained about loud music from the basement, so I tried with this theme to see what could be done “quietly”, but rather mesto.  There follows an etude-like episode in B-flat minor, 8 / 8 (odd measures), and then the F# Minor mesto returns as a grander theme, now often FF, on three staves.  I then move to a “middle section”, a Largo Religioso in B Major, which is rather like a highly chromatic hymn tune without words.  (Or, so to speak, “Words Fail”).  This section can be played in a self-contained manner (I’ve tried it on an organ and it works!).  Finally, a long development section starts, Grave, 3/4, with the twelve-tone row.  Going into some arpeggio-like passage work, it picks up momentum, and comes to an unresolved dissonance as a climax.  Here I recently added another passage of development, starting to recapitulate other composers.  Building on the Religioso theme (now in E Major), the tonality comes apart, as the “octave theme” from the Bruckner Ninth is overlaid upon it, and then the motto of Scriabin’s Black Mass appears, but in reverse (trying to rise up).  All this comes collects into one more unresolvable dissonance.  Finally, the opening tone row is played backwards, in E-flat minor again, and the movement ends quietly on a couple staccato minor chords, back in desolation.


Finale (12 min):  It starts in C, Andante 2 /4, and then quickly a fugato, Allegretto, 6 /8, and some other meters (even 7 /8).  I’ve outlined the structure in detail in my January 15, 2016 post.  There is a major “hymn-like” second subject in F# Major (with a lot of modulation and dissonance), then more development, which gradually brings in external music, and then a cadenza, all “crashing” to dissonance before the F# Major theme returns, and then fights being dragged back to C Major.  The triumphant end, in C, plays a lot of earlier material polyphonically over the final chords, that finally end in a “drumbeat” and one final shout, FFF.


My NIH notes (from my late 1962 stay as an inpatient) say that I “began to compose a series of piano sonatas based on a 12 tone scale. These were compositions that he did not hear in his head but rather worked out as a prearranged formula.”  Not very complementary, and not exactly correct.


Below I will diagram how I performed the work at home recently.  It took me, with my level of technique, about 67 minutes to get through it.  A good pianist would perform it in about 50 minutes, with 15-second pauses between movements.  That’s long for a piano sonata.  I can perform the first movement better than the rest of the work (and make it convincing), but I’m quite confident that the concepts work if well executed.


In the chart, a “c” means I played from iTunes, a “p” means that I played on the Casio.

The handwritten score pdf is in the same link as the previous day’s post (on the legacy site).  There is one URL for each movement, such as this for the first movement.   More instructions on the location of the physical booklet are forthcoming.


4.9Coda 1 stanaz F#71Sonata3Mov4cadcends in dissonance

Mov-seq desc page file played comment
1.1 Moderato,C 1 na p Introduction
1.2 Allegro,C 2 Sonata3Mov1E1 p Exp, first theme
1.3 Scherzando,a 3 SonataMov1E2, E2a,b p 2nd thm,Ossia avl; take repeat
1.4 adagio 4 SonataMov1D1 p Development, 1st 2 pages
1.5 Atonal 6 Sonata3M1D2,D2a (ossia) p 2 pages
1.6 Grave, cadenzas 8 Sonata3M1D3 p
1.7 allegro 10 Sonata3M1D4 p pick up speed
1.8 Allegro Maestoso,ebmn 14 Sonata3Mov1Ra p Recapitulation
1.9 transition 15 Sonata3movR2 ossia p
1.10 transition cont 16 Sonata3MovR3 p climax
1.11 2nd theme, C 17 Sonata3MovR4 p
1.12 Coda starts 19 Sonata3Mov1RC p Coda starts;
1.13 Tranquillo 20 Sonata3Mov1R5 p
1.14 Coda ends 22 Sonata3Mov1Rc1 p Movement ends quietly in minor
2.1 Scherzo, Vivace, Ab 23 Sonata3Mov2E1 c
2.2 Scherzo, cont 25 Sonata2Mov2R2 c
2.3 Trio 1, F 31 Sonata3Mov2R3 p long trio, only a little in Sib;
2.4 Reprise 1 42 na brief
2.5 Trio 2, c# mn 42 na play this w cadenzas
2.6 Reprise 45 na conclusion
3.1 Elegy, eb min 49 Sonata3Mov3I1 p
3.2 lamntation f# 50 Sonata3Mov3E1 p father’s theme
3.3 8/8 b-f min 51 Sonata3MovE2 p
3.4 lamentation f# in octaves 53 Sonata3MovE3-1a
3.5 Religioso B 55 Sonata3Mov3Religioso c chorale
3.6 Grave molto, atonal 57 Son3Mov3D1 c
3.7 accel 61 Sonata3Mov3D2 c,p much was played manually
3.8 extra material 61f Sonata3MovD3 c comes to a dissonance
3.9 coda, palindrome 62 Sonata3Mov3Coda p
4.1 Andante 2/4; Allegretto 6/8 63 MSonata3FinaleS1 c
4.2 Andante 65 MSonata3Finale1 – 2, after playing at 65A p,c
4.3 Mahler 5 theme 67 Sonata3Mov4E2a c
4.4 intermed develop 67f Sonata3Mov4E3a c
4.5 F#Maj hymn 68 HoldApplauseTheme p
4.6 Devel 1 with external minuet 68 Sonata3Mov4E5a c I probably should call this D5a
4.7 Dev 2 with external songs 69 Sonata3Mov4E5b c D5b
4.8 Cadenza, external materials 70 Sonata3Mov4cad c ends in dissonance
4.10 Coda 1 Stanzas go to F Min 72 Su702CfromF#c 17 measures p
4.11 Coda 2 Modulate to C, stay in C 72 Sonata3Mov4Coda2 p end FFF


(Published: Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016 at 9:30 PM ESR)

Update: Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016

I found this printout of some alternate music (6/4) for the final coda in the Finale.  Don’t recall the file number.  I need to work it in.

My Piano Sonatas 1 and 2: Notes on manuscript sources


One of my ongoing efforts is to document the music I have composed, party with the idea that if something happened to me (at 72), someone could discern my intentions and some of it might get professionally performed.


Note that the “file names” that I give are the names of PDF’s (and sometimes MP3 files) on which I have save them.  They will all be available on the Safe Deposit Backup USB (to be described soon).  Otherwise, they are available in the “Scores” directories of my Windows 8 and above computers, and my most recent MacBook (and backed up by Carbonite).


I have composed (or sketched in detail) three Piano Sonatas, and I want to leave some notes now.


The Piano Sonata #1 in A Major is a neoclassical affair.  I believe it was composed and written out by hand when I was 13, in early 1956.  A chum at William and Mary claims to have memorized it by ear and played it in California over Christmas in 1961, shortly after my William and Mary expulsion.  A complete performance should take about 16 minutes.  The files are all named Son1M1.pdf through M4 (and were recorded from Sibelius in 2013;  sib files exist that can convert to mp3).


First Movement: Allegro, 2/4.  The first theme is based on a perfunctory ascending and descending scale that the chum liked. The second theme makes heavy use triplets.   5 min with repeat.


Second Movement: Adagio, 4/4, A Minor, a funeral march with a very symmetric theme.  4 minutes.


Third Movement: Minuetto (A Major), and Trio (D Major).  This movement has some bite, and I like more than my little E Major Minuet that won a composition contest in 1957.   3 minutes.


Finale:  Presto, Tarentella, 6/8, A Minor.  A very symmetric piece. It stays in minor (no happy ending).  Some music very similar to this was played in the pre-show of the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012.  I wonder if it really did stick in somebody’s mind at William and Mary in 1961. 3 Minutes.


The Piano Sonata #2 in D Minor is much more ambitious.  It is hype-rromantic.  I was impressed by works like Brahms First Piano Concerto, and Concertos 2 and 3 by Rachmaninoff.  There is a tendency for the music to sit in the rhetorical dominant too much (Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto tends to do that but is still a masterpiece), but that could be revised.  I think the piece, if performed by a virtuoso perfmance, would work.  A complete performance should take about 28 minutes.   The file name is MUSSonata2.  It is a PDF of the handwritten copy (27 pages)


I believe I handwrote the score on the kitchen table in the late winter of 1960, im 11th grade, when I was 16, particularly on some snow days (we had three big March storms that year – “three White Wednesdays”).  The manuscript had to be written neatly in black ink, and the process was tedious, rather like doing a biology lab “draw and label”.  I entered it into a composition contest and have shown a couple of the feedback letters.  (One grader suggested study of Bloch, Bartok, and Kabalevsky!   Bartok I would respect!)  I have tried manipulating the manuscript pages on the iPad.


First Movement:  The exposition starts with a brief slow introduction (which can be repeated) and then moves to an Allegro Commodo, 3 /4 (a quarter note at 168). The opening theme sounds symmetric and contrapuntal, and migrates to F Major for the Minuet-like second subject (Qr at 144). The development is stormy (I was influenced by the cadenza of Rachmaninoff’s Third Concerto) . The Recapitulation is pretty straightforward with the second subject in D. Then there is a brief cadenza and a violent close, FFF, crashing on D Minor chords.


Second Movement: G Major, Lento Placido, Qr at 52, 4 /4.   It is a simple sonatina form with two subjects, the second in D Major.  After a short development, there is a cadenza requiring “leggerio”. The second theme returns as a singable chorale-like hymn, before ending quietly.


Finale:  It starts with an introduction, a cadenza to migrate from G Minor back to D Minor, but it is so extensive as to almost constitute a separate movement (in place of a “scherzo”).  A Rondo follows, in 2/2 (accidentally left out), with a toccata theme in triplets.  The second subject in 6/8 is more lyrical, and will appear in B-flat and G Minor before the chromatic “refrain” part of this subject returns at the end as a “big tune” D Major triumph, leading to a rush to a wild, joyful close.


The manuscript has hand indications of other chord formations for some passages to reduce the dependence on the dominant key (A Major v. D Major).  But well performed, it might not be necessary.


I believe I performed the D Minor before my second piano teacher’s class in her home in Arlington in the Spring of 1960.  I believe I played them for a friend om Ewell Hall at William and Mary (in the practice rooms) in the fall of 1961.

All these links are available here.

(Published: Wednesday, January 27, 2016, at 9 PM EST.)


Update: Monday, April 25, 2016  (about 6:30 PM EDT) 

Saturday night, I stumbled through playing the complete Sonata #2 on my Casio.  It took about 35 minutes.  It shocks me that I was able to play this at age 16 as a junior in high school, and recognize how much skill I lost.

The piece is surprisingly effective, and would work, at least as a “curiosity”, if performed by a virtuoso pianist.  The style at first glance seems perfunctory, built on neoclassical mannerisms all the way back to Scarlatti. But in the development section, on p. 5, the music becomes stormy, and then violent at the end of the first movement, and gradually triumphant in the finale.  The “big tune” in the finale has a lot more harmonic modulation than the other materials.

The “sturm und drang” process on p. 5 returns in the “Introduction” to the finale (which is almost a separate “scherzo” movement, however abbreviated), and then again in the Finale before the final appearance of the “big tune” in the Picardy D Major.

When I play this passage by itself, it seems trite, with the “dominant of the dominant” effect, as if the basic tonality were A major.  My ear was somewhat influenced by the massive cadenza in the first movement of the Rachmaninoff Third Piano Concerto, but not as sophisticated. But there is also some similarity to material toward the end of the long first movement of the Piano Concerto in C# Minor by Amy Beach (1896), which after being laid back turns violent as the movement closes.  The passage does not sound as harmonically “trite” when played in context, but I think the two reappearances need to more harmonic ventures, especially using the “Beach chord” using the sixth interval (so effective in the finale of the Beach concerto).  Also, the opening theme of the first movement mixes the interval of the fourth with the minor second (something Scriabin developed in his “Black Mass”, Sonata 9). That could provide material for harmonic enrichment.  One of Alma Mahler’s songs (in D Minor) has a harmonic progression that seems also relevant.  But simply changing keys by measure (as suggested in the handwritten notes on the copy) would not be effective.

I will develop a plan, detailed in a blog posting later, identifying pages and measures, of how to make the changes, especially to the recurring “Development Section” passages when they are repeated.  I’ll probably make some files of rewritten passages on Sibelius and post them.  It’s not practical right now to rewrite the entire manuscript in Sibelius until there is more “help”/

I note also that the opening theme in the slow movement resembles the Andantino theme of Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto #1, although I use G Major and 4/4 time (a tritone away from D-flat in the Tchaikovsky).


PBS Digital Studios: “What’s the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?”


PBS Digital Studios offers a series of 10-15 minute “science teacher” monologues about various topics in sci-fi and possible future space travel.

One of these is “What’s the Most Realistic Artificial Gravity in Sci-Fi?”

The 11-minute short discusses the artificial gravity of “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Ringworld”,  “Halo” (game), and “Babylon 5” (a sci-fi series from the 1990s).

Most of the problems in science fiction have to do with the Coriolis Effect.

A small space station would have to rotate quickly to achieve enough “force”.

The film considers “Halo” to have the most realistic idea.  But that depicts a ring about 4/5 the diameter of Earth.  The ring could be expanded to a cylinder.  In my “Epiphany” screenplay, you could imagine an alien civilization (maybe from Tabby’s Star and a possible Dyson Sphere 1450 light years away) being deposited near Titan, but eventually NASA would detect it.  My setting is more like that of Babylon 5.   Since it is a cylinder mounted on Titan, the gravity of Titan (1/7 that of Earth) would add to  Coriolis problems.

Artificial gravity from “centrifugal” and “centripetal” force does not have the “benefit” of the gravitational field of a nearby body of much larger mass than oneself (that is, a planet).  Maybe gravity plates with some sort of neutron-star stuff could be constructed by an alien civilization.

Here’s a sample “Game Movie” from Halo that may convey an idea of what this world could look like (it’s long).

And here’s a doc about the making of “Babylon 5” which might convey the feel of that world.

On June 1, 2016, CNN ran an article by Thomas Page, “Space Oddity: NASA’s Guide to Future Living“, the “Cylindrical Colony”

(Published Tuesday Jan. 26, 2016 at 11 AM EST)

Some notes about film color, value, saturation, and hue, as might apply to my own work


Back in the 1998-2003 period when I was living in Minneapolis, IFPMSP held many forums on filmmaking technology, including film stock.

I wanted to give a few links about concepts regarding image color and focus, because they would become relevant to filming my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany”.

Of course, people pay tuition and get degrees from film schools to learn these things.

Leighcotnoir has some valuable links.

Look at this explanation of hue, saturation, and value, particularly the 3-D cone near the bottom of the page that gives an example based on “red”.

It’s also important to study the concept of “primary colors”, as explained here, along with color wheels.  Note how primary “additive” colors (red, green, blue) work, where as “subtractive pigments” (Yellow, magenta, cyan) work in tandem, because when paints are mixed, the light wavelengths that may be reflected are “subtracted”.

There is also the “hue-saturation grayscale”, as explained here.

And “Filmschoolonline”  explains the “attributes of the visual image”, including Brightness, Contrast,  Quality of Light, Focus, perspective.  Here, color is explained in terms of saturation, hue, and emphasis.

There is also the opportunity for 3-D without glasses, “autostereoscopy“, a kind of holography, as explained in Sciecemag,


I do want to discuss the color scheme for the “flashbacks” or “backstories” of my Epiphany screenplay.


The Final Draft document shows several color modes:

White — Black and white presentation (the embedded screenplay “The Sub”).

Blue — scenes at ashram, in mild color-blindness called green-weak deuteranomaly  (see a color blindness “simulator“).

Red — backstories in full color as they would appear in nature  (moderate value and saturation)

Orange– backstories known to and told by characters other than Bill, higher saturation.

Green — historical narrative told to characters other than Bill (higher value)

Purple — immediate, quick flashbacks (higher value and saturation)

Yellow — acted historical narrative (treat as red)

Gray — historical relative to “Sub” screenplay, black and white

Some directors change aspect ratio for different kinds of backstory.  I think this creates problems, because different theaters handle cropping different (in many auditoriums, 2.35:1 is accomplished by vertical cropping, so presenting some backstories in smaller aspect can require more cropping). I would prefer 2.35:1 for all scenes, but use different color schemes.

Much of the action takes place in an “ashram” which is envisioned as the inner surface of most of a cylinder mounted near the space station on Titan, about 2 miles in diameter and 10 miles long, rotation for artificial gravity, that  is, a “rama”.

I’ve talked about Clarke’s novel here before, but it seems that there have been few movies about societies of people raising generations while on an evacuation ark (like “Evacuate Earth“).  These situations certainly could explore the idea of “social capital”.

(Published Saturday Jan. 23, 2016 at 7 PM EST)



Regarding debating diversity at the Oscars: for my scripts, not all casting can work if race-blind


There has been some “whining” about the supposed lack of racial diversity in Oscar nominations, as in this Washington Post Style article by Lonnae O’Neal, “Only role reversals will end all-white Oscars lists” — online, it’s “Maybe Hollywood’s not racist; it just has a processing disorder”.

Later MLK Day, in fact, Spike Lee (and maybe others) announced boycotting the Oscars under the “Oscars so White” (#Oscarsowhite) hashtag on twitter.

My own experience at the movies (and with television mini-series) is that I see plenty of black actors in favorable roles — especially as police detectives, politicians (especially presidents), athletes, and physicians.  No one would quarrel with Viola Davis’s effectivness as a  law professor in “How to Get Away with Murder“.  It would have been well to nominate Will Smith for his role in “Concussion“, no argument there. I recall Morgan Freeman’s role in David Fincher’s “Se7en” (1995) alongside Brad Pitt  (remember the “chest shaving” scene before they both wear a wire for the climax).  And, by the way remember the climax, “What’s in the box?” (maybe an inspiration for Richard Kelly’s “The Box”), with Kevin Spacey as the satanic villain.

There is a problem, however, in my own mind, with some scripts.  Suppose I get my novel “Angel’s Brother” published and it gets interest, or I get some traction for my “Do Ask, Do Tell: Epiphany” screenplay.

In both of these, it’s important that some of the leading characters be attractive young white males, for what I have presented as “gay sexual tension” (however stereotyped and potentially prejudicial) to work.  I wonder if films like “Judas Kiss” or “The Dark Place” could have worked with African-American young actors in at least one leading role, for the same reason.

“Epiphany” particularly has some supporting characters in the “ashram” scenes where the characters can be cast in a race-blind way.  And, for example, in “Angel’s Brother”, the leading characters (Randy, about 40 and Sal, about 21) are conceived as white, the CIA chief could very well be cast as African American (Morgan Freeman would be perfect).

Don’t forget, by the way, that Morgan Freeman has been trying to produce “Rendezvous with Rama”.

(Published: Monday, January 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT)

Finale of my Sonata 3 (1962, 1974), progress report


I have revised the template to the Finale of my Sonata 3 in Sibelius 7.5 on my MacBook, so I want to record a note about what I have.

All of the file names below are what I have saved the various
“pieces” of the Finale as.  In time, I may publish more of the pdf’s for these (or even mpg’s).  But I wanted to take a checkpoint on where this work is.

The best sequence right now is:

MSonata3FinaleA1   Opening toccata   (C, Allegretto, 2/4 and then mostly 6/8, fugato-style

MSonata3Finale2   Transition, a little slower

MSonata3Finale3   Transition continues, antiphonal episode

Sonata3Mov4E2a   Reprise of toccata returns, C Major, 6/8

Sonata3Mov4E3a   Meno Mosso, 3/4, transition to major hymn episode

HoldApplauseHymn,  F# Major, 4/4 and 6/4, Andante, like a hymn but very chromatic, major “middle section” episode’

Sonata3Mov4E5a   3/8  “Development”.  Fugato theme starts getting mixed with material from my “short pieces” (Nov. 25, 2015 post) mostly the minuet theme centered around E. Comes to a dissonance

Sonata 3Mov4E5b  4/4  Development continues.  “Song themes” from later work try to slow the movement down.  A few motifs from Beethoven (Sonata 1 Minuet) and Scriabin (Black Mass) are briefly quoted in counterpoint.  The music struggles (becoming atonal) to maintain momentum, and comes to a crashing unresolved dissonance, as it tries to connect the music of this Sonata with that of other composers


Piano cadenza, largely atonal, emphasizing fugato themes in fast tempo, leggerio, bringing in themes from the first movement, showing them related.  The Bruckner 9th descending octave theme is quoted once.

Sonata4Mov4Coda1 and then Coda2 (“Coda of the Coda”)

The F# Major Hymn tune returns, Maestoso, FF.  Although the music is hymn-like and laid out the way the phrases of a hymn verse might be, the music has to get back to the key of C.  It goes to D#Minor, E-flat major, C Major, A Minor, A Major, D Major, then acts like it will end quietly in F.  But that is a ruse to move to the Final C, using the “Bruckner Modulation” at the end of the 8th Symphony. Finally, the descending thirds of the hymn tune ring out, as a rising theme (from the Bruckner 7th and scherzo from the 8th underneath, with motives from this Sonata played in rapid notes in the high treble) plays in the base, leading to the finally FFF chords and octaves in C, Maestoso.

(Published: Friday, Jan. 15, 2016, 4:45 PM EST)


“The Hateful Eight” recalls the history of aspect ratio in movies


I found a writeup of the history of Cinema aspect ratios that I thought I would pass along, “The Changing Shape of Cinema: The History of Aspect Ratio“.  A couple of the embeds in this link seem to have gone dead.  Another link that gives more detailed technical information on the specific ratios is “The Letterbox and Widescreen Advocacy Page“.

The Changing Shape of Cinema: The History of Aspect Ratio from on Vimeo.

Remember all the different innovations since the early 1950s: CinemaScope (“The Robe”). CinemaScope 55 (“Carousel”), VistaVision (“White Christmas), Cinerama (with its three projectors — “This Is Cinerama” and then “Cinerama Holiday”), and ToddAO, and then the practice, often used in the 70s and 80s, of making high-profile films with a lot of outdoor scenery in 70mm format (as with “The Hateful Eight” roadshow release from The Weinstein Company).

Let me add, I remember crying at the end of “The Robe” at a suburban CinemaScope premier at the Jefferson Theater on Rt. 50 in Falls Church VA in 1953.

Vox weighs in with this discussion by Charles Bramesco, “Film v. Digital: the most contention debate in the film world, explained” with illiustrations.

(Published:  Friday, January 1, 2016 at 4 PM.)