Edward Artemiev: Interview:  

First I met Andrei Tarkovsky somewhere in the year 1970. That happened at Mikhail Romadin's, an artist, I had been invited by a friend of mine Vladimir Serebrovsky who also is an artist. So many years have passed since...- but the memory reveals fragments of their conversation about the portrait of Tarkovsky, painted by Romadin. It was titled With the Scythe. I remember how thoroughly every detail of the painting was worked. It was not in realistic manner but in special, his own. So, as I understood, Romadin did not agree to sell the portrait to Tarkovsky by some reason of his, and the latter had to come to his place - to see it.

Well, all unprepared, there, at Romadin's, we began to talk about electronic music. Vladimir Serebrovsky mentioned that I was engaged in that kind of music, and Andrei took an interest. We agreed upon our visiting the studio of electronic music, where Tarkovsky came almost the next day. He wanted to know everything about the new art: by that time he had already been abroad and heard electronic music there, however could not assume that any experiments in this field were conducted also in this country.

I showed him sounding of electronic timbres, methods of their processing, let him listen to the recordings. It is rather difficult to say what impression he received. He seemed to have remarked something about rather cool colouring of electronic music sounding. Quite possible, but after all that was the very beginning of its existence, and its development was impeded by technical imperfection of those synthesisers and other equipment.

After visiting the studio Andrei and I went to my place and on the way I confided him my dreams that unfortunately were not to be fulfilled to this day. I then conceived to write a cycle for a voice with electronic instruments (indeed, in the beginning of the 70s I could count only on the sole in this country synthesiser ANS created by E. Murzin) and all sorts of noises that I hoped to choose in the Mosfilm record library. As a matter of fact, in those years I closely came to the idea of videomusic: realising that electronics lacked for the time being a charge of powerful emotional influence, I began to look for another art capable attracting the audiences. I chose upon cinema. I had already talked to Savva Kulish, a cinema director, asking if it was possible to shoot some images for me, e. q. clouds, landscapes, or dim contours of objects. That coincided with my then flame to abstract painting, vanguard arts... In a word, I told about my intention to Andrei and he replied: "Yes, it is curious. But you know, it may turn out an unequal investment". "In what sense?" He explained: "You will compose your music putting some idea, and I shall simply take a pool, pour some petroleum in it and shoot. At the same time I shall take no interest at all what effort you have put in it. The main thing - that the music and the image should coincide" With that we parted. Since spring we did not see each other any more. And in the autumn of the same 1970 Andrei found me himself, handed me the script of Solaris and offered to work with him. I remember we met at the cinema studio. He told me of his conception, what the music had to be like underlining that in the picture there would obligatory play Bach. As what concerned all the rest I was absolutely free. Though, Andrei immediately added, music by itself as a matter of fact was not what he needed in the picture. My task as he saw it was to organise natural sounds and noises, to perhaps process their timbre and rhythm on the synthesiser "imbuing" them with some musical tissue for gaining brightly individual, specific, powerfully expressive sounding. Frankly speaking, I believed then I was not yet ready for this kind of conversation, though was by no means a novice in the cinema, having had quite a few pictures behind me. Eventually, I tried for all that to write music. I cannot judge whether it improved the picture. At least Tarkovsky left it to be in the picture.

When our preliminary conversation about Solaris was coming to an end, Andrei inquired if I knew his pictures. I confessed that I did not, as I had missed Ivan's Childhood, and Andrei Rublev was only beginning to tear its way to the screen with inconceivable difficulties. Then Andrei showed me his largest and longest three-hour director's variant of Rublev, which was never to be seen in the cinema theatres.

Up to now I cannot forget how we were watching it in the Cinema Hall No. 21 of Mosfilm. I then experienced the state of a deepest shock and long afterwords could not regain my balance. I could not even try to explain what exactly had struck me. Perhaps all as a whole. Together with that I could by no means understand from where and for what reason all sorts of fables and false rumours had appeared and were circulating in Moscow about this picture and about its creator. They seemed to be spread by some people who did not much sympathised Tarkovsky and his ways in the cinematography. Their idle talks made me treat the picture suspiciously. But that was before viewing. Having seen Rublev I had already no doubt that that was extremely new and courageous work of art.

When we first talked with Andrei about Solaris and its music, Tarkovsky dropped a phrase that rather stupefied me. He said: "As a matter of fact I cannot imagine a better composer for myself than Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov (that was the author of the music for the first A.Tarkovsky's full-length films, Ivan's childhood and Andrey Rublev). Nevertheless I have to part with him and the reason for that has nothing to do with music. It's absolutely personal". Soon after our conversation I saw Rublev and the music, written by Vyacheslav Ovchinnikov, made a great impression on me. One of especially picturesque scenes was The Night on Ivan Kupala. In that time I could not even imagine anything similar could be created. I even now consider that to be one of the most brilliant works in the cinematography what concerns music.

No wonder, having got acquainted with the Rublev music, I began working at my music for Solaris extremely seriously: I desired to rise to the occasion, not to look, maybe, worse. In other words, Ovchinnikov's music urged me strongly, became good stimulus in my work on Solaris. Unfortunately, numerous rough copies, sketches where I searched for possible combinations of music and various kinds of non-musical sounds and noises were lost. Only the scores were saved, but using them one cannot restore the whole process of creating the music for the film. And the recording itself was very prolonged and painful. The tape recorders were charged with 16-17 tapes prepared by me. We attached them, detached trying to find a sounding contained as we saw it in every scene, a timbre colouring bearing exactly the intonation every shot of the film was imbued with.

Returning from shooting Tarkovsky several times showed Solaris to me, advised to pay attention to one or another scene, episode. For instance, a great importance he gave to the scene Kris is saying good-bye to the Earth. Andrei wanted a brook to be singing there, voices of invisible birds to be sounding, musical drops to be falling, musical rustles of grass to appear from nowhere. I did everything as he asked using the electronics, but during the recording while joining music and noises with the image Andrei decided to leave only pure live noises. Not because I failed to achieve something, not at all. He just had a feeling that if the music remained in this episode, then later, when the action moved to the space on the mystery planet of Solaris, an impression might occur that in the film there was too much music, especially electronic music. Besides, the difference in perception between the world of the planet Earth and that of the space would be lost. Therefore he wanted to have the sound image of the earth different filling it with natural noises.

Interestingly, that in the course of work on Solaris Andrei told me a lot about his vision on the role of composer in his cinema. In the composer he sought not the author of music, but the organiser of audio space of the film. And what is more, he needed the composer for supporting with music some scenes which emotionally he could not manage or did not manage so far to bring to the audiences using the language of cinema. In the course of mastering in this art Tarkovsky more and more limited the active sphere of participation for the composer, turning to noises, classical music. Eventually, in his last picture The Offering he refused to invite a composer for participating in the picture at all. I believe this decision was quite natural for him, as he already needed no musical cothurnuses.

How was his position close to mine? What concerns cinema the answer was possibly No, but in the whole I accepted and supported the concept Tarkovsky developed in his creative work. The point is that by that time I had already come to the conclusion that music had spread its borders up to the level of the world of sounds surrounding us. I even invented such a formula or rather a definition: if the composer uses in a piece of work only musical instruments, then he appears to be a creator of elite music as he singles out from the whole of diverse palette of existing in the nature sounds only exceptional - that means elite - sounds of musical instruments. Andrey heard me out with interest and then declared: "As you like, you may consider Bach to be elite or non-elite, but I know nothing higher than his music." And he went on to say: "Any definition fails when we deal with real art or such a mighty talent as that of Bach. For the music by Bach gives direct impetus to your soul, and you can feel it".

I. S. Bach was Andrei Tarkovsky's favourite composer. Whenever I came to his place there certainly Bach's music was always heard. Without it Andrei just could not live. He knew by heart many of the works, collected records trying to acquire immediately all that was published in this country. His friends quite often brought records from abroad. I do not think I will violate the truth saying that Bach's music accompanied him almost daily.

I never attended Tarkovsky's shootings. I sometimes called at the film studio in Mosfilm but always during the break - to talk, to socialise. Thus I do not know what he was like in the pavilion, whether he was a tough director as some say. However, he never interfered with my work, never tried to thrust his opinion on me.

It is necessary to mention that I made it my habit not to start working on the music before I see the film. I must see it, soak myself in the individual handwriting, manner and way of thinking of the director, his style and only after that sit down to write music. I am not able to compose music basing on the script as the picture may be fundamentally different from that emotional impression the scenario made upon me. Therefore I always await patiently what the director will show me and only then his style, language, the system of image thinking gives rise in me to back response. In general, a shot has a most miraculous influence on me. So was it with Tarkovsky's films as well.

Andrei would give me a rough but very precise copy of the film and say: "I recommend you to make some music here and here. But it is up to you, think for yourself". As a result I was absolutely on my own and had to control myself for myself constantly guessing what Andrei would say and whether that music would suite him or not. That was a hard way of working. I seemed to be permanently under the state of weightlessness. Especially since Tarkovsky would never come to the recording of the music believing it was not a concert and the cinema was a collective art and very semiotic. That is why he believed only during the final recording and the view of the entire material he would be able to decide whether the music would be necessary to him or not, where it should be introduced and where only the noises would do. That is, only the entire volume of the material for the picture dictated him how it was proper to treat it in this or that case basing himself only on his own artistic lines and principles.

By the way, it appeared that in Solaris in the scene Bregel's Painting Andrei had no intention to use music at all. I wrote it at my own discretion. Later I suggested that Andrei would listen to it. He engrossed in thoughts, a long while pulled handles, brought the music in and out of the shot (this took place at re-recording), tried noises, added cries of birds and, at last, made up his mind to leave it.

...In The Mirror - our second joined work with Tarkovsky - he again put forward the same conditions for me as in Solaris: the organising musical and noise levels in the film. As to the music itself, so far as I know, at first in The Mirror there was intended no music at all. Later the situation changed.

In The Mirror in the beginning there is an episode: the woods bowing against the gusts of the wind. I wrote a special musical piece for it. To me it seemed to go well with natural sounds of the wind. My co-worker here was the sound producer S.Litvinov, and it was very fruitful. By that time we had done two pictures together and understood each other well. Before beginning we always agreed in advance what he and what I were to do. I wrote the music according to our agreement, Litvinov collected the noises. But after hearing our result Tarkovsky said firmly: "No. Music hampers me in this scene. Again, painting begins. I need real sensations."

As I recall, in his remarks on The Mirror Andrei always returned to the initial scenes: here is the boy standing, and then he enters the house, the wind springs up and shakes branches of the trees... And here he needed a certain sound to convey the sensation of children's fears. I began to look for different electronic timbres and showed them to Andrei. Nothing could be right for him. Andrei was suffering, could not find a place for himself. I was nervous too. We started already preparing for the re-recording when suddenly he asked: "What do you think an individual, a child can fear? Perhaps, sounds..." I tried to depict something to him on the synthesiser, but he did not like it, it did not do. All of a sudden Andrei said: "What if we take an ordinary fife which children play?" We recorded the fife and its sound frightfully pure, delicate miraculously fitted the image.

There were some other cases when I in my turn initiated the music to appear in the scenes that were not intended to contain any. That was the case with the big documentary episode Sivash from The Mirror.

Andrei wanted to build the whole episode of the passage of the Soviet soldiers over the Sivash with the chronicles of the World War II and the feeling of silent naked spaces, the sound of the water and dull swashes of tired steps of the soldiers. He thought that these sounds alone together with the pictures of military chronicles and the built in on a par with them images of explosion of an atom bomb over Hiroshima, the Israeli tanks engines roaring and the shrieks of Chinese hunveibins on the Soviet - Chinese border would powerfully impress the audiences. I, nevertheless, felt intuitively that all that would not be enough and wrote some music and brought it to the re-recording. Andrei was greatly surprised but somehow the music pleased him at once. He decided to leave it. Unfortunately, the music appeared in the picture not in the form I wanted it to. It is heard modestly, indistinctly, nonetheless, it is there...

It is remarkable that working on the passage of the soldiers in the episode Sivash I invented a special technique of composing variations using one accord. In other words, I wrote and orchestrated in different ways using all orders, all possible timbres the do minor key triad, gradually increasing its sounding, its dynamics, condensing its texture and so on. It should be noticed that the idea of creating of one accord variation in The Mirror by Tarkovsky came to me under influence of another musical composition I was absorbed with greatly in that time. That was the variations on one timbre that I called Twelve Glances on the World of Sounds.

On the whole, my work on Solaris was the most difficult for me (perhaps that is why it is so precious to me). In The Mirror and in The Stalker it already became easier. Andrei and I seemed to gradually adjust to each other, become closer at heart. I always was astonished with how he was making his pictures not allowing a slightest mistake. In the time of Solaris and The Mirror, I recollect, each part had to be written from beginning to end - such was the equipment. Only in The Stalker we already had an opportunity to work on the system allowing to insert music, speech, noises from a moment we needed. Before that we had to run a part about twenty times to allow the director and sound technician to learn it almost thoroughly and only after all that we could record. In the case of any inaccuracy or bug everything had to be done again and again.

The story of composing the music for this picture, perhaps, was the most complicated because Andrei lacked for a long period of time any clear understanding of what its musical atmosphere ought to be like. I remember that soon after I received the script of The Stalker via Masha Chugunova, Andrei called me and over the phone told me that he outlined music there rather approximately and would know where exactly music was to be only after finishing the shooting. However, having shot all the material, he continued to search and was explaining to me that he needed some combination of the Orient and the West recollecting along with that the saying by Kipling about incompatibility of the Orient and the West. They can only co-exist but will never be able to understand each other. Andrei desired this thought be ringing in The Stalker distinctly but he could arrive at nothing good enough. Then he offered me to try performing European music on the Oriental instruments or, vice versa, orchestrating an Oriental melody for European instruments and to see what would that result in. This idea seemed to be curious and I brought a wonderful melody to Andrei, named "Pulcherrima Rosa" by an anonymous author of XIV century - medieval motet dedicated to Virgin Mary. Having heard this theme, Andrei immediately decided to take it but warned that in such original form it was just inconceivable in the film. It ought to be given in an Oriental colouring, in an Oriental statement. That condition of his he reckoned to be obligatory and indisputable. Later, when I returned again to the discussion of the music for The Stalker Tarkovsky unexpectedly told me: "You know, I have some friends in Armenia and Azerbaijan. What if we would summon musicians from there and you would write the melody "Pulcherrima Rosa" for them and they would play it improvising on this theme?" We decided to give it a try. A performer on the tar was invited from Armenia.

I have made the orchestral development of the theme, when tar was leading the main melody. Andrei came to the recording, listened attentively, and rejected the record, having said, that this was not the thing, he was expecting and striving for. We have stooped the recording, and started to think again, look for the solution. And I do not know how did we find it; possibly Andrei himself had mentioned in his talk something about the necessity of creation of a state of some inner calmness, inner satisfaction in the film, being similar to that is could be found in the Indian music. I have immediately caught this idea, and I understood the method which I needed to use in this situation.

In general, I do not like to use open methods both in cinema and in other musical genres. On the contrary, I am trying to mask our composer technique, so that the listener could not understand, how this is made. But, obviously, in the Stalker it was the case, when I could not avoid using the open method. So, I took a rather well-known in the Indian music method as a basis of the musical solution of the film.

It is constructed on the distinguishing of one base tone, which is usually entrusted to the performers on the Indian string pinching instruments, named vina or tampur. On the background of this prolonged sound, improvisation on tar (the multinarional instrument, which is used not only by Indians, but also by Iranians, Armenians, Azerbaijanians and Georgians) is made.

I decided to add to the tar a longitudinal flute, being taken from the European instruments, which was widely used in the Middle Ages. Still, later I came to the conclusion, that such a straightforward connection of European and Oriental instruments has too conditional character and frankly illustratively demonstrates my intensions. Then I turned to electronics and passed the music through effects channels of the "SYNTHI-100" synthesizer, having invented many various and unusual modulations for flute. What concerns the tar, it was recorded by me first on one speed, and then it was lowered so, that the "life of one string" could be heard, which was incredibly important for me. Then I have as if "hanged" far in the sond-acoustic space the light, key-coloured backgrounds. And this was all. I called Tarkovsky.

He came to my studio of electronic music together with his son, little Andrei. I switched on the record. Andrei-senior was amazed, especially by how the tar sounded. "Listen, what did you do to it? - kept on asking he. - I remember that it sounded alone, stiffly, as a hammering of peas, and here it's quite another matter!". In brief, the music which I have sensed in an empiric way, Tarkovsky has accepted, having not demand any alterations or changes.

Besides the cinema work, I seldom met Andrei. So it happened, that I can count by fingers all our meetings. I know by myself, that he was a hospitable host. In his flat (first on the Peace Avenue and then on the Mosfilm Street ) often have gathered guests, which eat, drank and have much and noisily discussed the art problems. And so a remarkable episode took place there. During one evening in Tarkovsky's place the playwright Alexander Misharin has brought a game, according to which, as he persuaded everybody, one could find out who of us is a genius. Misharin has distributed us sheets of paper, divided into four parts. Something was painted in each part. As far as I remember, we had to draw something in addition, or cross out any of the parts. Everybody began to think hard how to do it more "genius". Andrei also took a sheet of paper, looked at it attentively, turned it over and drow a cross on that side. Stunned Misharin said, that this is namely the sign o genuis...

I completely agree with him, but I think, that Andrei has solved the puzzle with the help of a tremendous intellect, which he possessed. For me this episode was most bright, clearly remembered, because it characterized Andrei very precisely. Of course, the sensual comprehension was strongly developed too, but it was under a control of the intellect.

The method of cinema story-telling, characteristical for Tarkovsky, the not fast presentation of material, was attractive for me. These large, long frames, where it seems that nothing is happening, but at the same time they are raising in you a state of some ringing, a state of the colossal inner stress. In my opinion, Andrei had a rare quality - the ability to "hold" the frame and to send an impulse from it in a mysterious way, to make a peace of art from the frame. I just can not explain concretely, how and why the frames by Tarkovsky possess our attention, causing the replying vibration of the soul. Maybe this is connected with the very nature of Andrei, that was very nervous and impulsive. I do not know. But, being charged by his state, I also tried to pass in my music this ringing, vibrating, tense feeling, with which is filled his films. Possibly, this is why the cinema music, which I wrote for Tarkovsky differs from that I made for other film directors.

Once we were talking about cinema. We thought, what is cinema. Andrei told me: "I do not know, what is it. For me, cinema is time and meters of films". In general, he considered that the most suitable for the cinema is a classical variant of the theater: the unity of time, place and action. Tarkovsky dreamed of making a film which would last as long as he was shooting it. Talking about this, Andrei meant not a chronical film, but a feature one, with a constructed frame and played situation.

Experiments in the field of cinema interested Tarkovsky very much. Possibly, he considered that the time itself supports the aspiration of film directors in various countries, various parts of the world.

With that, he wanted to make namely a work of art, an not a cinema-observation. Regretfully, he have not got time to do it.

Next time, continuing a talk about the cinema, Andrei observed, that until the cinema did not studied to speak its own language, it needs to borrow a lot from theater, literature, painting, music. Having addressed in his films to the music of old masters - Bach and his predecessors, Tarkovsky consciously tried by means of music to create for the spectator some illusion of deep historical roots of a new type of art, which is cinema.

Almost all his films had a difficult destiny and were not at once accepted by spectators, critics and colleagues - film directors. Many of them have discovered for themselves films of Andrei Tarkovsky gradually and painfully. There were a lot of attacks, undeserved and invented accusations in his address. Once as I recollect, on the discussion of the Stalker Andrei was asked to tell the film contents in a few words. Andrei has flared up: "I was preparing to this film all my life, I shot it two years. I did not manage to make it from the first attempt, and so you want me to explain all the film in a few words? Watch it for a second time!" He was indifferent at the rude assaults. In any case, I did not noise that he was suffering from incomprehension, loneliness, looked for a support. His friends and adherents were always with him. He was going to work much and for a long time, despite of difficulties and problems.

Andrei even had a special notebook, where was a plan for all his life; there were planned all the films he had to shoot. It was a whole list. For example, after Solaris he wanted to make Idiot, but due to some reasons, obviously not depending on him, he had to put this plan aside and begin shooting the Mirror.

Mirror was followed by Stalker. Then in his plans was The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann, Nostalgie. What concerns his last film, Sacrifice, it was not in the list, and probably it should not be there. The idea of this film appeared, when Andrei was seriously ill, and he understood that he is doomed...

My last recollections of Tarkovsky are connected, strange as it could seem, again with our first, and therefore maybe most dear mutual work - with Solaris. First of these recollections is almost funny, and the second one is tragical.

When Andrei was going to Italy to shoot Nostalgie, he invited me, but the Italians objected to it, having forced him to take their composer. Unexpectedly I had an invitation from him to pay a visit. When I came, I found out that Andrei has got an unusual parcel from Japan, from a composer Tomita (it turned out, that I knew him). Having seen Solaris, Tomita has recorded and sent to Tarkovsky his version of the music to the film. Showing it to me, Andrei said: "It is wonderful, that a person has sent me a music to Solaris, though, as it seems to me, it is already written." There were no more comments. But there was another album in Tomita's parcel, which was named "Planets", and was an original electronic mastering of the famous music by an English composer Holst. This album has attracted Andrei's attention, and he allowed to himself a statement concerning the electronic music: "It seems to me, that electronic music already comes out from a baby state, and now it is able to solve not only cosmical, but also a human problems". I told him everything I knew about Tomita, who was both composer, arranger, performer and sound engineer. Unexpectedly Andrei confessed, that if he would not be a film director, he would study to be a conductor, because this art is close to him. He always dreamt to organise something out of chaos. He had a unique, a special gift of a creator..

When I knew that Andrei is dead, it was like a blow. Though all of us understood the inevitability of such an outcome. The shock was so strong, that I almost at once has recorded in my studio "The Ocean" - my new work, which I have dedicated to the memory of Andrei Tarkovsky. Why did I name it "The Ocean"? We have started with Andrei from Solaris, and the theme of the Ocean was the main leitmotif of the film. The Ocean of Solaris was uncovered both in the film and in music as an image of cosmos, the image of the creator. Andrei has been and will always remain for me a creator. And though death has taken his body, his soul is left for us, and it will experience a long space journey through the planet Earth and all the Universe.

The material is prepared by Tatyana Egorova ("Muzikalnaya zhizn'", No.17, 1988)


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