Bleed ‘Til You Succeed:
An Essay on Roundscoring a Feature Film
Welcome to Roundscoring
When I was first introduced to the concept of The Dark Side of the Rainbow (DSOR), I immediately connected with the magical aspects of seeing two separate and individually beautiful pieces of art blending so seamlessly together into one transformative experience. I, of course, wondered if the experience was engineered to be flawless, or if the DSOR experience was the expression of something more ethereal and sublime underlying the very understandings of physics and metaphysics.
If you are unfamiliar with the DSOR experience I refer to, I highly recommend that you familiarize yourself with it, as I will refer to the Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz combo throughout the following text.
If the DSOR synchronicity is a naturally occurring phenomena, it follows that such precision and intricate mechanics of timing must be inherent to the natural flow of music and indeed, the very structure of reality as defined by particles adhering to the understood laws of physics. This, to me suggests a higher authority in the creation of such physical laws and indeed a guided sense of humor as we understand it, when applied to the DSOR experience.
If the DSOR synchronicity is not naturally occurring and is indeed the planned product of a human intelligence (the most likely possibility being, Pink Floyd) then it stands as a testament to human evolution and the possibilities achieved when there are no limits to the human imagination. Also, it should then - in theory, be able to be replicated.
What follows are the findings of an experiment conducted by The Physics of Music to attempt to learn more about the process of Roundscoring in an effort to replicate the success of the DSOR experience.
The Dark Side of the Rainbow
There are several aspects to the DSOR experience that I find fascinating, despite the public disavowal of Pink Floyd band members as to the intentional synchronicity between the album The Dark Side of the Moon and the MGM Film, The Wizard of Oz. While the band claims that the technology necessary to be able to produce an intentional syncopation did not exist (or at least was not available to them) at the time, it is undeniable that a syncopation between the two disparate works of art exists. In fact, due to the often overlooked aspect of Roundscoring, I state emphatically that the accomplishment would be more impressive if it were intentional.
Because of the timing necessary to write an album of music that repeats itself while continuing to adhere to a temporally logical rhythm and thematically relevant content matter, it became necessary to define the types of moments that made the DSOR experience so entertaining and interesting.
There are many moments throughout the DSOR experience where one of several types of synchronicities exist. The first type of synchronicity I would like to describe is a tone synchronicity abbreviated TS, which is a seemingly correspondent overlap between the tone of the film and the tone of the music. Perhaps the strongest example of TS is during the vocal solo of The Great Gig in the Sky which seems to echo the aching loss and loneliness Dorothy feels as she tries to seek shelter from the twister, but ends up alone with Toto in a strange and unknown land.
The second type of synchronicity, closely related to TS is described as musical synchronicity or MS. This type of synchronicity occurs when a change in the musical structure such as verse, bridge or chorus aligns with the action or camera movement within the film. An excellent example of MS occurs at the third repetition point, when the beating heart sound at the beginning of Speak to Me, and end of Eclipse match perfectly with the death by melting of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Another synchronicity, lyrical synchronicity or LS, occurs when specific lyrics such as those in Us and Them match up with the dialogue or content of the film. One of the most iconic and well known examples of LS is the camera shot of The Wicked Witch in Munchkinland while Pink Floyd sings “…black…” then the camera cuts to Dorothy while the band intones “…and blue…and who knows which is which and who is who…”
The last type of synchronicity that needs to be addressed for the sake of clinical detachment is forced synchronicity. FS is the allowance for interpretation and the control variable of coincidence. There are always things that people see, that hold more meaning to them, than they would to a general demographic audience. As a musician, I have tried to remain detached from FS and try only to observe what can be measured by instrumentation and understood at face value. One example of FS would include the previous example of LS which is extended from the obvious “black and blue…” lyric to the following lyric “…which is which, and who is who…” This is commonly confused, as the witch appears during the lyrics “which is which” – this must be dismissed as possible phonetic coincidence. Another similar example of FS occurs when the song Money transpires during Dorothy’s visit to the Emerald City. The association of the color green and money, is an American conception, while Pink Floyd, being a British band, would not have been likely to intend the association, although personally I feel it applies, and contributes additional value to the overall experience.
While The Dark Side of the Moon lasts 48 minutes and 58 seconds in total, The Wizard of Oz has a total running time of one hour and 52 minutes, creating a 2.28:1 play ratio. This means the album plays the whole way through, on repeat twice, and then begins a third repetition before the movie ends with the music still demonstrating LS during the song Time:
Bleed ‘Til You Succeed
When attempting to Roundscore a film, it became apparent that certain limitations needed to be applied in consideration to the DSOR experience as a form of measurement of success or failure.
The first consideration was the element of a 2.28:1 play ratio. The second was the seemingly different and diverse subject matter that somehow coincides in differing types of synchronicities. The last consideration was finding an appropriate film to work with that held as many of the same attributes for our work as The Wizard of Oz held for Pink Floyd, specifically in terms of genre, rating and a background of previous public knowledge and approval.
This became rather difficult at first, as The Wizard of Oz is one of the most popular and well known family films in existence. After screening nearly, a dozen musicals, we finally settled on the Frank Oz adaptation of the Broadway Musical, Little Shop of Horrors. This film seems to best meet the requirements we defined in that it was well known, had a musical nature separate from its subject matter, and allowed for a near 2.28:1 play ratio.
The only disclaimer that I hold, is that while Pink Floyd may not have had access to the equipment needed to create a Roundscore, I do. Digital technology makes is simple to sit at home and write music in my spare time, that I can easily play back synched to the movie and adjust and assemble for accuracy. I was not trying to prove or disprove this aspect of the DSOR creation/discovery. What I sought to comprehend in this experiment was how those elements could be combined and what type of effort, using contemporary digital technology, was needed to intentionally create a Roundscore. It was in testing myself and the limits of my own creativity that Bleed ‘til you Succeed was written.
The Magic Within
It soon became apparent to me that anyone with a modicum of talent could assemble an album that matched any one of the dozen musicals that we had screened. The nature of musical nomenclature makes it mathematically sound that songs written in the same or complementary keys with structurally fractional time signatures would mix naturally, if somewhat chaotically (in reference to subject matter and tone) to the ear.
What I found astounding, was the unexpected repetition of certain elements within my own intentional synchronicities. To elaborate, I must explain that The Little Shop of Horrors has a total running time of one hour and 42 minutes. This meant that the music I was to write would need to be 40 minutes and 28 seconds long per repetition, in order to achieve a 2.28:1 play ratio. Although 40:28 was a mathematically derived length, it was based on a ratio of length between a movie and album that were completely arbitrary compared to the film I was imposing it upon. Yet a number of synchronicities occur, as I will momentarily delineate. That means that the writers, director and film crew would have had to have known my ratio when recording the music and footage for The Little Shop of Horrors.
There is an explosion at the climax of the film, when Rick Moranis’ character Seymour electrocutes the diabolical villain plant, Audrey II. Because this scene occurs during the third repetition of the first song on the album, I had to be very specific about its placement, and was forced to adjust and re-time it more than any other effect on the album. As it turns out the sound effect ended up being placed precisely so that when you start the Bleed ‘Til You Succeed experience the explosion sound triggers at the same exact moment when a shelf crashes off the wall and lands on Seymour during the very first repetition.
This example of MS was completely unintentional and was the first real evidence to me that even if the synchronicity between album and film is intentional, there is still a corollary relationship between the two, based solely on the mathematics of music inherent in both artworks.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence of this sublime relationship was discovered when Truly V, my collaborator and creative partner with TPOM surprised me one day, by playing our completed Roundscore alongside the director’s cut of the film, which features an elongated alternate ending.
I never knew until that moment (after all the creative work on this project was completed, save for this writing) that an alternative ending to the film existed, or what it contained. When I saw the music I had written with the intention of synching up to the original ending, synching up and having meaning with the alternate ending, I was blown away.
An immediate example of LS that presented itself was when the song Feeding Frenzy plays during the mass infestation and destruction of New York City by and army of giant carnivorous plants.
I cannot deny the seemingly magical nature by which Bleed ‘Til You Succeed and The Little Shop of Horrors synch up beyond those instances when intention was factored into the music. They are the most profound evidence of a heretofore hidden order that exists not only in the sacred geometry of atoms in an element, or elements in a complex structure; but within the very thought forms that transcend space and time between two (or from another perspective, four) separate works of art. The so-called “God Molecule” is not a particle or subatomic structure, the unified field is human imagination!
Without The Wizard of Oz as a story by Frank L. Baum, we would not have the film The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland. Without the movie, the synchronicity with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon could not exist. By means of creation or discovery, these pieces of art have combined to inspire myself and fellow recording artist Truly V (collectively we are known as The Physics of Music) to create the template for Roundscoring by attempting to replicate the success of the DSOR experience using Frank Oz’s film The Little Shop of Horrors.
It is my opinion that we have achieved our goal of creating a disparate work of music that aligns with The Little Shop of Horrors at numerous points during the three repetitions programmed into our album Bleed ‘Til You Succeed.
My hope is that upon entertainment of these findings, other artists will embrace Roundscoring as a genre and encompass the techniques incorporated by digital non-linear editing to add a completely new facet to the fractal that is our evolving life, society and culture.
By creating art that magically and intentionally strengthens and enriches the meaning, enjoyment, and fulfillment of other art, humans can hope to interact and communicate complex ideas in new and exciting ways.
- Revy AP, The Physics of Music, 6/7/2016
BTYS – Acronym meaning “Bleed ‘Til You Succeed” – a reference to the Physics of Music’s third album by the same title.
DSOR – Acronym meaning “Dark Side of the Rainbow” – a reference to the synchronicity of Pink Floyd’s album The Dark Side of the Moon and the MGM film The Wizard of Oz.
FS – Acronym for “Forced Synchronicity” – a type of synchronicity in which the content of music and film of alternate origins seem to correspond due to the opinions, impressions, or experiences of one individual, but not to another. This is the scientific principle of “control variable” in practice during our experiment.
LS – Acronym for “Lyrical Synchronicity” – a type of synchronicity in which the lyrical content of the music corresponds with the visual imagery presented by the corresponding film of alternate origins.
MS – Acronym for “Musical Synchronicity” – a type of synchronicity in which the musical structure (i.e. verse, chorus or bridge change) is concordant with a scene cut or camera movement in the corresponding film of alternate origins.
Repetition Point – The moment when the end of the last song on an album repeats gaplessly into the first song.
Roundscoring – The process of creating a portion of music that scores motion picture media when played in a cycle repetitively, from beginning to end with no gaps between playback.
Score – A musical composition that accompanies a motion picture, film or video. Usually adhering to theme, tone and content matter.
TPOM – Acronym meaning “The Physics of Music”
TS – Acronym for “Tone Synchronicity” – a type of synchronicity in which the tone or emotion in the film is mirrored in the corresponding music of alternate origin.