Strange Sinema 74: Strange, Strange Music - Thur. Mar 13 - 8PM

Oddball Films presents Strange Sinema, a monthly screening of new finds, old gems and offbeat oddities from the collection. Drawing on his archive of over 50,000 16mm film prints Oddball Films director Stephen Parr has complied his 74th program of classic, strange, offbeat and unusual films. This installment, Strange Sinema 74: Strange, Strange Music focuses on avant-garde, electronic music, quirky jazz, ethnographic and other musical novelties and exotica from around the world. This program presents the rare documentary The Dreamer that Remains (1973) featuring American visionary composer, new-music instrument inventor and hobo Harry Partch; Discovering Electronic Music (1983), veteran director Bernard Wilets’ introduction to music synthesizers and computers used to create electronic music; The Pretty Lady and the Electronic Musicians (1972) a quirky fairy tale that takes us to the outer fringes of early music inventions like Leo Theremin’s revolutionary sound instrument, effects like reverb, overdrive and fuzztones and the theory of musique concréte; A Balinese Gong Orchestra (1971) showcases the ancient gamelan music of Indonesia; Tanka (1976), David LeBrun’s hypnotic film composed of Tibetan scroll paintings with a pulsating original score by Ashish Khan; Crash, Bang, Boom (1970), a lesson in percussive sounds for pre-teen hippies; Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (1953), Ward Kimball’s brilliant Technicolor, mid-century cartoon explores the development of Western musical instruments from caveman to present day; Ego (1970) Italy’s Bruno Bozzetto optical printing and pop art imagery bond with master Franco Godi’s wildly ultra-lounge soundtrack; Crystallization (1975), award-wining filmmaker Carroll Ballard’s (The Black Stallion) abstract film explores the formation of crystals in liquids all set to an innovative electronic sound score. Finally Oakland native and electric guitar pioneer Alvino Rey performs The Whistler and His Dog (1941) with his swing orchestra. This novelty big band show-stopper is replete with barks, woofs, whistles and growls from his sidemen!

Date: Thursday, March 13th, 2014 at 8:00pm
Venue: Oddball Films, 275 Capp Street San Francisco
Admission: $10.00 Limited Seating RSVP to or (415) 558-8117


The Dreamer That Remains (Dir. Stephen Pouliot, Color, 1973)
“Harry Partch is an American visionary. He has built his own musical world out of microtones, hobo speech, elastic octaves and percussion instruments made from hubcaps and nuclear cloud chambers.”– Newsweek

A portrait of Harry Partch, one of the most innovative and influential composers of the 20th century. Partch invented instruments (cloud chamber bowls, cong gongs, the harmonic canon, more), experimented with drama and ritual and created a live ensemble utilizing dozens of his own designed instruments.
Partch influenced virtually every forward thinking composer and experimental musician of the 20th century. A fascinating artist, Partch lectured, performed and rode the rails as a hobo for eight years.
“The work that I have been doing these many years parallels much in the attitudes and actions of primitive man. He found sound-magic in the common materials around him. He then proceeded to make the vehicle, the instrument, as visually beautiful as he could. Finally, he involved the sound-magic and the visual beauty in his everyday words and experiences, his ritual and drama, in order to lend greater meaning to his life. This is my trinity: sound-magic, visual beauty, experience-ritual.”-Harry Partch

Discovering Electronic Music (dir. Bernard Wilets, Color, 1983) An introduction to the synthesizers and computers used to create electronic music, including the legendary Fairlight CMI, one of the first sampling synthesizers used for pop music production. Director Bernard Wilets was a veteran of the educational film industry and particularly known for his “Discovering Music” series.

The Pretty Lady and the Electronic Musicians (Color, 1972)
A modern musical fairy tale that has a contrapuntal grain of truth.  In this light-hearted animated film two musicians compete for the same pretty lady by inventing and playing increasingly complex electronic instruments. From time to time the voice of the Grain of Truth interrupts to explain the electronic musical devices and techniques that produce much of the popular music of the 1960s and 70s.  Leo Theremin’s revolutionary instrument is shown and explained, avant garde "musique concrete" is demonstrated with tape recorders and the use of amplifiers to affect sound.  Other sound concepts like reverb, overdrive, feedback, fuzztones  are demonstrated.  This audio-orientation features and excerpt from the Hitchcock’s motion picture Spellbound utilizing the Theremin’s eerie sounds.

A Balinese Gong Orchestra (Color, 1971)
A film explaining the famous "Gamelan Gong" that includes the orchestra Tunjuk. Each instrument is described and explained, then the orchestra performs a piece taken from the Ramayana ballet suite (written in the 1950s and based on traditional themes). An eye and ear-opening introduction to this ancient Indonesian music.

Tanka (Color, 1976)
“An Extraordinary Film”-Melinda Wortz, Art News
Tanka means, literally, a thing rolled up. David LeBrun’s film, photographed from Tibetan scroll paintings of the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries, is a cyclical vision of ancient gods and demons, an animated journey through the image world of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
With a pulsating hypnotic score by Ashish Khan (sarod), Buddy Arnold (saxophone, clarinet, flute), Pranesh Khan (tablas) and Francisco Lupica (percussion).
Crash, Bang, Boom (1970, color)
Watch pre-teen Woodstock wannabees get groovy! Music education films were a
perfect vehicle for schoolroom pop sensibility of the late 60s and early 70s. This
introduction to the world of percussion might have taken the hippie slang “far out” a bit over the edge, thanks to its artfully annoying, anti-jingle theme tune “narration”, but that’s what makes it an Oddball classic.

Toot Whistle Plunk and Boom (Dir. Ward Kimball, Color, 1953)
Academy Award winner in stunning Technicolor- this short was originally released in theaters as part of the “Adventures in Music” educational series. The short features a stuffy owl teacher lecturing his feathered flock on the origins of Western musical instruments. Starting with cave people, whose crude implements could only "toot, whistle, plunk and boom," the owl explains how these beginnings led to the development of the four basic types of Western musical instruments: brass, woodwinds, strings, and percussion. Directed by the brilliant Ward Kimball, this is a classic of mid-century cartoon design and has been ranked one of the top 50 greatest cartoons.

Ego (Color, 1970)
Brilliant animation by Italy’s Bruno Bozzetto (of the cult favorite Mr. Rossi series)- starts with traditional comic-style animation until the factory-working family man goes to sleep and unleashes his subconscious thoughts sending him into a battleground of situations.  Utilizes brilliant animation styles including optical printing and pop art imagery. Featuring ultra-lounge master Franco Godi’s mesmerizing soundtrack. An Oddball favorite!

Crystallization (Color, 1975)
Directed by award-wining filmmaker Carroll Ballard (The Black Stallion) this non-narrative film explores the formation of crystals in liquids through the electron microscope under polarized light all set to an early 70s electronic sound score. Screened at the SF International Film Festival and winner of the Golden Gate Award in 1975.

Alvino Rey, His Guitar and His Orchestra (B+W, 1941)
Oakland native and electric guitar pioneer Alvino Rey performs The Whistler and His Dog (1941) with his swing orchestra. This novelty big band show-stopper is replete with barks, woofs, whistles and growls from his sidemen!

About Oddball Films
Oddball films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing and web projects around the world.
Our films are almost exclusively drawn from our collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educational films, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between. We’re actively working to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. We invite you to join us in our weekly offerings of offbeat cinema.