Research camera, compilation, editing: Miranda van der Spek
Based on a longterm investigation of Natalie Fernando on polyphony in the Mandara Mountains
Sound / mixing: Robert Bosch
Editing, colorgrading: EditPoint (www.editpoint.nl)
Commissioned by Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ Amsterdam (www.muziekgebouw.nl) / Muziekgebouw Frits Philips Eindhoven
Worth repeating! is a portrait about millet, love and the music that goes with it. It is an ultimate experience of minimal music. The film premiered on the opening night of the World Minimal Music Festival at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ in Amsterdam on March 30, 2011, with the presence of Steve Reich, one of the most prominent composers of the twentieth century.
Dutch newspaper, the Volkskrant: ‘…’A flute on its own doesn’t sound good’, says one of the members of the Ouldémé tribe in ‘Worth Repeating!’ In this fascinating documentary, Miranda van der Spek portrays a still pristine music culture in Cameroon…. It is ‘minimal music avant la lettre’ and therefore the film is the perfect opening of the World Minimal Music Festival…’
World Minimal Music Festival
In 2011, the WMMF took place for the second time in the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Amsterdam and in the Muziekgebouw Frits Philips in Eindhoven. The Festival focuses on developments within minimal music: a genre within composed music that is characterised by the prolonged repetition of – often short – musical motifs, with subtle variations and shifts. A style of music that originated in the late 1960s among Western ‘classical’ composers. The structural models of African (Steve Reich) and Indian (Philip Glass, Terry Riley) music were a great source of inspiration for these composers. The music gave the audience a trance-like experience, a sense of community, an important element in the culture of those years.
Percussionist and composer Arnold Marinissen programs the festival in collaboration with Tino Haenen. In his research into forms of minimal music, he came across the music of de Ouldémé. He discovered recordings made by musicologist Nathalie Fernando from Montréal, who spent ten years researching polyphonic music in northern Cameroon. Based on the local music of the Ouldémé tribe from Cameroon, Marinissen decided to ask two renowned ensembles (Asko | Schönberg and Lunapark) to perform compositions based on traditional music from the Mandara Mountains. Filmmaker Miranda van der Spek was approached to make the opening film about music by the Ouldémé as a prelude to the programme.
Worth Repeating! – Repetitive music and western minimal music
The music of the Ouldémé is an example of repetitive music that has inspired Western composers to create minimal music. While western minimal music is made for a stage audience, the music of the Ouldémé is linked to their daily life, especially to the agricultural cycle of the year and to their cosmology. But the underlying principle has remained the same, whether you are talking about traditional repetitive music or Western minimal music, or about later movements such as ambient, house, techno and trance – often modern incarnations of repetitive music: it is music that brings about a common experience, an extra dimension. A form of making and listening to music where it is not about the individual and soloing, but about the collective.
Millet and love, and the music that goes with it
Worth Repeating! follows the agricultural annual cycle of the Ouldémé and the music associated with all its phases: the rainy season, the dry season and the time of flirting and marriage that culminates in the annual communal wedding festival.
At each stage of the agricultural cycle, there are different instruments and specific structured melodies played. The highly repetitive, polyphonic music is collectively performed on flutes and trumpets made of natural materials (bamboo, reed, wood, bark, zebu, buffalo and antelope horns). The special character of their flute music is that the melody is made as a group. The musicians takes turns playing one note of the melody, while the others rest. A melody is played together with the group in a lightning-fast alternation of notes. Only as a group the music is satisfactory.
Filmmaker Miranda van der Spek
Miranda van der Spek made a triptych about traveling music for the Tropenmuseum and a year later she was offered the production of the openingsfilm of the World Minimal Music Festival. This assignment fitted seamlessly into the line of music films that filmmaker Miranda van der Spek produces.
Miranda first visited musicologist Nathalie Fernando in Montreal. She had made scientific analyses, with audio and video recordings and descriptions of all instruments and music genres in the Mandara Mountains. With the help of Fernando’s knowledge and network, Miranda made this captivating documentary, about music that has hardly been influenced by the Islamization and globalization that is going on in the region. A documentary in which the filmmaker has managed to reflect the typical ’trance’ character of minimal music in the choice of images, the structure of the film and in the rhythm of the editing.
With financial support from:
A CineMusica production