Soundtrack Of A Photograph-The Green Lands

This post is technically a little early to be celebrating my two years of blogging, but this idea has been on my mind for a long time. It actually relates to the beginnings of Soundtrack Of A Photograph.  Two years ago, in the introduction to this blog I wrote these words-

For years now whenever I watch a movie that opens up with a big sweeping, majestic montage as the opening credits roll by I have often thought, I could pick a better song than that. In my head I begin piecing together the elements of the scene and scanning my brain for a song or piece of music I think fits the mood.

In part, that was the premise I used for this blog as a useful example for explaining how and why I would pair my photographs with music. But I have a confession to make regarding that opening statement. Well not really a confession as such, but more what I wished I had been able to elucidate with that humble beginning, but after two years of blogging under my belt I feel I now can. Simply put, I had an instrumental song in mind that would have perfectly demonstrated this idea. But as I nervously assembled that first blog, I knew an instrumental song would not work. I was very tentative about my own writing ability, so I felt I needed the crutch of a song, quoting the lyrics liberally to pan out my own words.

Now I feel more confident about my writing and am ready to describe that tune.  Since I have no song lyric as my inspiration here, I have to instead  guide you using only the music.  I imagine that we are in the editing room for a movie.  Hours worth of footage has been filmed for this opening scene-aerial shots, stop-motion shots, close ups of flowers and birds among rolling green hills . Streams flowing from the rocky cliffs down to sandy white beaches and the vast ocean beyond. The song has to unite these images somehow into a cohesive opening, setting up the main body of the film in a meaningful way. I have viewed all the introduction footage separately and now as I sit in that editing room I have to piece it all together using the allotted time. My brain quickly selects a song I feel will work. There is a natural progression to the song as it goes along which I feel will work with the footage,  So I start assembling…

(Play This Clip, Continue Reading)

As the opening chords set a gentle tone, the camera opens with blades of grass rippling in the breeze and  slowly coming into focus. The camera pulls out onto a mostly treeless green landscape. The sun is shining and the contrast between the blue sky and the green is startling in its vibrancy. Cut to a rocky hill now with wildflowers dotting the field and birds flitting about as the guitar chords now have a little more texture. Another cutaway, this time to a sea cliff. As the camera pans around, the sound of a single bagpiper cascades around the scene. A steep rocky precipice slides down towards the ocean as waves crash against the ancient rocks before subsiding in an icy white foam. The camera holds position, letting the rhythmic flow of the ocean provide the movement.

Cut down toward the beach now with an aerial shot as the drums kick in together with a massed pipe band. The camera rotates around, capturing the massive scale of the land as the pipes become more incessant, the music louder as you feel the lump in your throat form. A feeling of being there envelops you. The power of the land, the power of music.  Next the camera heads out over the ocean swell before sweeping back towards the beach, gaining speed now as it angles its way half way between the beach and the rocky cliffs above. A dynamic lead electric guitar enters now, riffing over the bagpipes while the camera picks up even more speed, hurtling down the beach now, sun rays bathing the scene with warmth.

One last shot now as the camera swoops around, heading inland, back to fields awash in contrasts of green, and framed by dry stone walls as the music reaches a crescendo. Landscape and music fueling each other now as the camera ascends and pans out wide now. As wide as possible. A verdant green landscape below, the white capped blue of the ocean beyond and the rocky treeless ground between all in view as the last notes play out.

Well,  that is how it would all look and sound as the movie in my mind. Obviously there are many ways to film a scene like that, but in all this time thinking about this song, this sort of imagery has remained. It is safe to say that the title of the song, Green Lands played a large role in that decision. Breton guitarist Dan Ar Braz has been a favorite of mine for years. In a long and varied career  the distinctive clean lines of his guitar playing have always stood out, both on the acoustic and electric guitars. Part of that reason is because he developed a guitar playing technique that was similar to the bagpipes. In the 1990’s he put together a group of some 50 musicians called L’Heritage des Celtes. It was a super group of Celtic musicians from Brittany, Scotland, Ireland, Galicia and Wales, including the powerful Breton pipe band, Bagad Kemper. Together this group recorded and performed in front of large crowds for several years. Green Lands is a song Dan Ar Braz had recorded an earlier version of years before, but it really came alive as part of L’Heritage des Celtes. I knew when I first heard it that it was something special. That lump in the throat moment I mentioned above? I still get it every time I play this song.

In the notes to one of his albums, Ar Braz says that he composed Green Lands as a hymn to the Celtic countries, that “have in common large green landscaped scenery of dreams and legends.” I have not traveled to all of the Celtic lands yet, but I have been to Ireland, Scotland and Wales. When you are in any one of those places, you certainly do feel that sense of history and a connection to those ancient myths and legends, as well as the landscape. It is a very powerful sensation. In a much earlier blog I mentioned how those sorts of sensations can often be revisited with the aid of a photograph. So too can film, much like I described. The difference between the two is that a movie almost always utilizes music of some sort, but a still photograph does not. My aim with Soundtrack Of A Photograph from the start has been finding that connection between a song and a photo. Two years in and I am still finding those connections.

And I’m not stopping anytime soon. Whether this is your first time reading my blog, or whether you have read them all, I thank you so much! Your comments and likes make me want to continue. In honor of the occasion, here at the bottom is a gallery of older photos taken in parts of the ‘Green Lands’ on various trips between 1990-2008, on various types of cameras. Also, how about another one from Dan Ar Braz? Click the video for a great clip of another of his songs called Broken Prayer.

Green Lands & Broken Prayer-Composed By Dan Ar Braz

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All Photographs By Robert P. Doyle

SHARES AND LIKES APPRECIATED!

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67 thoughts on “Soundtrack Of A Photograph-The Green Lands

  1. What you possess is unique, the ability to capture pictures with a soundtrack! The vivacity and passion shows in the intricacies. So it does hold true, you don’t have to grapple for words when you write about something that has seeped within your soul. It’s a beautiful blog that you have. Keep going!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shalini, thank you so much for this comment. I had the idea brewing for a long time before I sat down and assembled my thoughts together two years ago in a coffee shop. It has given me so much and it is great being a part of this community. Your words mean a lot to me. It has seeped into my soul and it is great to share it with people. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No. Nothing fancy like that. All you need is locations (like a vantage point/top of hills, mountains, bridges, buildings…) most camera now is equipped with decent video thing. It will be more authentic view of life. remember the hand camera those amazing directors prefer? It will be more real and creative. Start with small things. Just to channel your creativity. Even just for fun. Who knows…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. No doubt the photographs and the soundtrack are the stars of the show, but I think the writing is the breakout performance here! This line deserves to be a lyric: “The power of the land, the power of music.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! I appreciate it all, but I really appreciate what you said about the writing. I have tried to step it up recently in that department. Not that I wasn’t trying before, but in sharpening the focus of the blog since August I think my writing has improved. It is entirely apt, and a little funny that you keyed in on that line in particular. A recent conversation we had (can’t remember if it was about one of your posts, or one of mine) led me to that line, so I’ll give you partial songwriting credit on that one! Thanks as always

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ha ha, so happy to help! I think you should give yourself more credit for your writing than you do. I know I haven’t read enough to, sort of, “critically analyse” to say that, and I think you’d hate it if I did, but your essays are always so well-written and presented. I really respect that you put so much effort into presenting them so well.It makes your whole blog better.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you once again. It isn’t that I don’t think I write well. I’m my own worst enemy sometimes. I often think my photography isn’t so great, or my writing…it’s just years worth of self-doubt coming out in public. I know that in these two years since I started that a lot of people have responded to what I do. I will say I feel much better about it since I shuffled things around. Feels more natural to me, and it has helped me write more frequently. I also have really liked the visual aspect of this from the start. Should I use that photo here? Does this song quote work here or should it go somewhere else. The free WP themes have limitations, but there is still much I can do to accentuate the look and feel. So I appreciate that observation from you as well 🙂

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      • It is the entire presentation, isn’t it? If you have it, why shouldn’t you use it? Whatever it is that inspires you, be it a photo you have taken or a piece of music you like, they should all tie in together, without anything needing to be “better” than the other. I can only do one thing, so I don’t have to worry about that, but if you can pack it all in, (and I am not going to use Kate Bush as an example here even if she always does that, because you will think I am obsessed!) it can only enhance what you already do. Let it all out, that’s what I say!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am indeed letting it all out. And recently that has been a lot! Thanks for those words. My wife will confirm that I have that self-doubt but she says the same things to me. Deep down I know it is good and valuable, and people enjoy it, which is a truly wonderful feeling to have. Yes I really need to wrap my head around the complete package of Kate Bush. Where do you recommend I start?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I prefer the theatrical, story-driven side of Kate Bush, though obviously I am forever in awe of her more emotional/vulnerable output. The theatrical is something that is more of a “presentation” as she was one of the video pioneers who also used dance, mime, acting and comedy in her live performances. But, I think, for you something like “The Sensual World” would be a good starting point. Kate was actually first influenced by English and Irish folk music, and not classical or prog rock as many people assume, and she has used many of those elements in her music often. This song doesn’t have much to go in terms of video, but the video needed to be simple, because the song was theatrical enough. She uses “inspired” text from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and it captures the spirit of it beautifully. Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1DDndY0FLI

        P.S. You might fall in love with her. You were warned!
        P.P.S. I am a very non-judgemental devotee and I LOVE her. So, be kind with the forthcoming musical analysis!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for that clip. Just watched it and I love it. The theatrical flair, the exotic music (had no idea she had the folk influence), all coming together. Really enjoyed that one and will definitely investigate further from here. Thanks so much for sharing this with me!

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      • I don’t know why I thought that album, and that song was most apt for you. She frequently has folk elements, sometimes more obviously, but I felt this one was a good example of how she musically puts it all together in her own way. She calls this her most “female” album, though I think women can always easily identify with all her music. She is one of those few artists who has allowed herself to express female experiences in a very diverse, but non-feminist sort of way, if that makes sense.A lot of male “fans” aren’t interested in that, and they just see her as a bit of a looker who happens to make interesting music as well. Of course, there are many other male fans who are willing to give her due respect for the artist she is. Just don’t ever read any of her reviews, even from the big ones like Robert Cristgau. They are all so condescending! .

        Liked by 1 person

      • No I get what you mean about the feminist sort of way. I actually know lots of male fans of Kate Bush from the UK, most of whom plunked down the money to go see her last year. For them it is the music, and not that she is a ‘looker’. Well…not the main reason anyway! I can see how this track puts a lot of sounds together. I scarcely read reviews these days and when I do, I always make up my own mind, be it Christgau, Pareles or anyone else. I can see why you would say they are condescending to singers like Kate Bush.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ya, just what I was researching etc. I don’t share personal info like that here, you know? Though the interweb is so vast, the wrong kind of people can find you very easily. I just wanted to tell you that because, well, I needed to express the level of frustration and disgust I felt for a long time with music criticism!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Got it, they should be deleted now, completely understand. As to the criticism it is either very pompous and verbose, designed to do little but make the reviewer prove how smart he/she is, or it focuses on entirely the wrong thing. Ever watch a concert video and wonder why the camera operator is missing a great solo because they are out of place? I feel that way about reviewers quite often. They misunderstand what the average reader wants. I don’t want a thesis on the philosophy of Bob Dylan…I just want to know if it is good or not! I’m simplifying but I think you know what I mean!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Completely. I am not a violent person, but oh the critics I’ve wanted to punch even if they deigned to approve of something. Many “fans” got tickets to Kate’s concerts last year who’d only listened to her greatest hits, if at all, and whose opinions were based on public perception in 1978! Really, even in 35 years people find it relevant to mention she was “caterwauling” in her debut song, or that her single’s cover was “sexy” because she was wearing a leotard. I sat through so many shitty documentaries and interviews, often featuring shitty contemporary artists, all because I didn’t have the privilege to go, and this is what is still said about Kate in the music press!
        And, at least, she is a certifiably gifted musician. Poppier people like Debbie Harry or Madonna, or someone like Patti Smith who really unnerved the lot of them, have it even worse.
        Many, many male artists get it bad as well. My personal philosophy is, if I like the sound of it, I will listen to it! If you remember Philip Seymour Hoffman’s character from Almost Famous, I think he recognised the ultimately pathetic premise of being the pompous music critic towards the end of the film.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I hear you, and I like your philosophy about what you like. Sandy Denny, who was certainly among the first British woman ‘rock/pop stars’ (with heavy folk leanings) also got hit really hard by press and reviews. She did not have it easy, and in some ways acted like ‘the boys’ to combat some of the negative things said about her in my opinion. As I say, I read reviews to understand if something is too derivative of an earlier album and showing lack of originality such as happens to artists sometimes. That is a useful type of review. An un-useful review is theorizing on things the artist never actually says, or else is a treatise on their fashion sense. I read a great book about Johnny Cash last year by Robert Hilburn. He was a very flawed man and much of what Hilburn writes about the lean years of Johnny’s music is true. However he singularly misses out things that the fans loved about his music at that time. And that does mean something. Someday you and I will have to discuss this via other means, for I share your thoughts!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ha ha! I’m trying to do it less now, but I did used to read about or watch and read interviews of people I’m interested in – writers, musicians, actors etc. But, Robert de Niro, of all people, made me see reason. He’s very quiet and boring in all his media dealings, and he is so because he decided early on to be an actor and not a “personality”. Seems simple, but it really opened my eyes. Obviously, I want to know about them because I like the work that they do. But, I’m starting to realise, no matter how interesting their lives maybe, I feel it is personally healthier for me to focus on the art, and fill in whatever gaps I feel with my imagination.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks sincerely Amy. I truly get a lump in my throat every time I hear this song as well. I feel the history, the connection to those Green Lands. There is something about the progression of notes here that does that for me. There is just such a power to the performance. His more stripped down performance of the song does that too, but this one is just BIG. Thanks as always Amy 🙂

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  3. Wow!!! You’ve certainly outdone yourself this time, Robert. I am completely in awe of what just took place…kinda like an out of body experience! lol You are very good at this and i’m glad you are inspired to continue doing what you love…this is just wonderful! *hi five*

    Liked by 1 person

  4. 1st happy bday!! Yayyyy!
    2nd like always I love the fact that you put a song to the pictures making them a story more than just imagine.
    3rd when are we filming the opening credits to this movie !? It’s funny that once I heard the music I could see it playing in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks very much 😄
      I love how you put that-a story more than just the imagination! Could not have put it better myself, and I’ve been doing this for 2 years. Thank you very much!
      You ready? Lets go now! I’m just so happy that people are responding to it, making the connections themselves. Your comments are always so great 😄

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I loved this post, Robert! It’s great that you’re celebrating two years of blogging, and that you were able to do in this post what you felt you couldn’t do when you first started. Thanks for letting us into those honest thoughts. I really liked the pairing of the song (something new for me (again!)) and your description of the landscape. Great pictures, too. I look forward to continuing to read and see and hear from you!

    Liked by 1 person

      • I just remember that there was so much in my head that wanted to get out. A few years ago I did a small exhibit of my photos. That was the first time I did anything like that because of self-doubt. That first blog helped guide me, and set the tone which all stemmed from taking a personal day and getting out of the apartment. I sat inna coffee shop and wrote my passions down on a piece of paper. After a few minutes I narrowed it down to ‘soundtrack’ and ‘photograph’ and felt I had stumbled on something that could be great. I don’t know why I kept it all in…but I’m glad it is coming out now!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much Danielle. Put it this way. I got a new CD by one of my favorite singers, a guy named John Jones. The title of the new one for various reasons is called Never Stop Moving. Three words that just say so much. It is my mantra now after only a few days

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    • GG thanks for such a nice comment and compliment! I felt it while writing it. The air, the smell, the sounds. I may never come close to writing something as vivid as this ever again..but it feels good to have done this one. Always appreciate the comments

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lol. Once again I thank you sincerely for such great comments. The idea for the blog came when I wrote my two passions down on a piece of paper while sitting in a coffee shop. Then I sat there trying to find a connection between the two. Once I wrote the word Soundtrack down I knew I had come up with an interesting idea. Though I am not dismissing my earlier and longer blogs, I feel recently my writing has improved and my focus is much sharper. I would not have felt comfortable writing this particular blog early on. I think I would have thought it mildly pretentious and too wordy. Writing it now, I think it works much better because I feel more relaxed about the writing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Very cool and I have sort of did the same, by sitting down and realizing my two true passions, I knew I’ve already overlapped them in such a way I needed to incorporate something unique in order to bring both of them to a center stage I always dreamed of performing on. I think I have it in the bag, but its still very still in the transit. I think combining your passions is much easier than focusing on one. For me it is still and probably always will be a constant trying because my basis seems to be more subjective than actuality.

        I love your title it is very fitting and catchy as well. I think you found your oasis.:)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Found my oasis…that’s one of the best comments I have ever gotten! I think you are right though, at least in terms of being on here. I think the combination gives one the push/pull that makes things interesting. I look forward to seeing your blog grow as you keep searching for that one true constant. Keep going though, keep moving!

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 Thank you, its not easy for me and lately I’ve been drifting only because I want to add substance behind why I’m doing what I do .but it may hit or miss the mark I’m going towards..I basically have been resonating with science and why we are here to begin with, again this can either help or hurt my direction of intentions, but I think sometimes it is needed in order to really define your agenda.
        And your welcome! I think its a highly evolutionary process that we can move beyond, when we find our oasis it usually means finding yourself.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I may be simplifying, but have you thought about making the blog right now about that search? Like instead of fretting about the substance or the intentions, what if that became a segment on your blog? That keeps the blog going, your readership still engaged, and gets you working towards that goal. Sorry maybe you are doing that already.

        Your last line means a lot to me though. I just told another blogger that I feel like my life before now was a puzzle with lots of missing pieces. Now the puzzle picture is clearer with only a few missing pieces now. It’s all becoming clearer. Comments like that make me believe I truly am on the right track

        Liked by 1 person

      • 🙂 Your welcome Robert, and yes I need to focus more on my main content rather than the little sidelines of things that really don’t really matter here. I agree, thank you! And I’m happy for you as well, I think when you are doing what your calling calls for you, the rest of life seems to come natural.:)

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