Wavelines II: Three Visual-Musical Compositions

16mm Color Sound Film .. (1979) .. 7:50

Wavelines II (1979) is a film of three abstract kinetic visual-musical compositions, entitled Pulse, Cadenza, and Close Harmony. They were produced visually with a Moog synthesizer connected to an oscilloscope and musically with synthesizers and recordings of acoustic sounds. To make this film, Lissajous figures were created on an oscilloscope, and the signals that created them were recorded on audio tape. The tape was then played back and filmed twice; the second time the size of the image was changed and also its shape (by shifting playback of one of the two tracks to the record head). The images were shot on black-and-white Plus-X reversal stock. The images were combined and the colors added using the contact printer at the film processing lab.


Pulse depicts the outcome of using the same signal to produce both visuals and music. It moves from single spikes (clicks) to multiple spikes (buzzes) to rectangular patterns (tones). The opening red + blue is held until the patterns re-form, and subsequent colors change one by one in succession. There is violet-magenta, then five strong colors— red, orange, yellow, green, blue—are followed by three weak colors—red orange, gold, and lime; red + blue concludes.

Cadenza has cyclical up-and-down movement matched to recorded music segments created from an earlier piece for clarinet, trumpet, and string quartet, with added rapid, filigree electronic voices. The motion is repetitive and serves virtually as a still frame for a color progression centering about the color blue—two colors moving around and across the color wheel in various intervals, always including a form of blue as a pedal point. The color progression is: yellow + light blue, ice blue + yellow, red magenta + blue green, light blue + violet magenta, pale gold + ice blue, blue green + cool yellow, yellow + light blue, ice blue + yellow, white + white, white+ yellow, yellow + ice blue, white + white.

Close Harmony has a continuous flashing pulsation resulting from the constant dropping out and reappearing of random portions of the image. The camera’s shutter was closed for half of each 1/24 sec frame, and the cathode-ray scanning display had a very short persistence. There is a cyclical, languorous rotation. The music, created mostly on a Synthi 100, begins with rapidly repeating tones (4 tracks, each a different tempo). It is based on a single four-tone chord (do, re, sol, si) at its original pitch and transposed down a major second. The first half of the section is in black-and-white, with repeated cycles of fades at slow, then medium, then fast rates. At the second half, color is established, and the music begins a progression of thin, ascending tones. The color progression centers on sun colors, first changing one by one, later together: yellow, red, orange, lime, gold, red, blackout, gold + red, blackout, gold + green, blackout, red + green, red, red + yellow. The image becomes more symmetrical, with split rotation of its left and right halves. The images fade alternately, then together. There is a floating, ethereal quality that is best enhanced by viewing the film on a large screen in total darkness.



Production, Direction, Images, Colorizing, Music, Sound, Editing: Reynold Weidenaar

16mm Camera: Joseph Horning

Oscilloscope Calibration: David Peelle

Titles: Ronald Stipes

Sound Transfer: Alpha Cine Labs, Seattle, Wash.

Processing: FilmLab Service, Cleveland, Ohio