Notebook Soundtrack Mix #7: Poetic Refrain — The Music and Sounds of Tarkovsky

A celebration of the soundtracks of films by Andrei Tarkovsky.
Florence Scott-Anderton

“...with music, cinema is an art which operates with reality.”

—Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time

Andrei Tarkovsky felt music was most acceptable in film when used like a refrain in poetry, bringing the audience back to their first experience upon entering the poetic world of the film; at once the material is experienced as new, and yet part of the initial memory. 

Tarkovsky used music sparingly over his feature film work but with the belief that music and sound should become a part of the experience itself, folding into the dream logic and memory of the work. At the beginning of his career his work with composer Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov brought impressive orchestral pieces and traditional Russian song, later, the composer Eduard Artemyev explored the possibilities of electronic music and sound design. Tarkovsky stated in his seminal book Sculpting in Time (1984) that he felt electronic music had rich possibilities for cinema and that the sounds of the world were so beautiful in themselves that if we could learn to listen to them properly, cinema would need no music at all. Composers such as Bach (whose work takes on a spiritual life in Tarkovksy’s work) are experienced alongside electronic ambience, silence and the sounds of nature.

The relationship between sound and silence perfectly capture the dreamlike essence of Tarkovsky’s cinema, a sonic language full of delay, mystery and texture, often small moments that are so precise and delicate they could be missed. This mix is dedicated to Tarkovsky’s vision that “accurately recorded sounds add nothing to the image of cinema.” A textural experience weaving through captured sounds from across Tarkovksy’s work with moments of music—a nonlinear and dreamlike atmosphere, inside its own reality, in keeping with the master himself. 

1. Excerpts from The Sacrifice (1986) & The Mirror (1975) (edit)

2. Eduard Artemyev, Stalker (1979), "Meditation"

3. Excerpts from The Sacrifice, Nostalgia (1983) & The Mirror (edit)

4. J.S Bach (J. E Gardiner), The Sacrifice, "Matthäus-Passion: Erbarme Dich"

5.  Excerpts from The Sacrifice (edit)    

6.  Eduard Artemyev, Stalker, "Train" (edit)

7. Excerpts from The Sacrifice (edit)

9. Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov, Andrei Rublev (1969), 'Track 2, untitled" & Excerpts from The Sacrifice & Nostalgia (edit)

10. Excerpts from The Sacrifice, Stalker, The Mirror & Andrei Rublev (edit)

11. Eduard Artemyev, Solaris (1972), "Dream"

12. Eduard Artemyev, Solaris, "Listen To Bach (The Earth)"

13. Excerpts from Andrei Rublev

14. Eduard Artemyev, Stalker, "Meditation", reprise

15. Excerpts from Nostalgia & Olga Sergeeva, Nostalgia, "Kumushki" (edit)

16. Excerpts from Nostalgia

17. J.S. Bach (Eduard Artemyev), Solaris, 'The Little Organ Book: Ich Ruf Zu Dir, Herr Jesu Christ - BWV 639 & Track 16 Untitled"

18. Eduard Artemyev, Solaris, "Ocean"

19. Henry Purcell (J.E Gardiner), The Mirror, 'They Tell Us That Your Mighty Powers"

20. Eduard Artemyev, Solaris, "Picture P. Brueghel (Winter)"

21. Eduard Artemyev, "Dedication To A. Tarkovsky"

Part of our on-going series, Notebook Soundtrack Mixes.

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