Ligeti – Poème Symphonique

September 2012

Poème Symphonique is an unusual work by Ligeti, simply featuring 100 metronomes ticking until they wind down. It was performed at the Music at Plush festival with the metronomes in the place they appear in this film, but with audience members starting them off, and then watching, bewildered, as they wound down.

We then ran the performance twice more the next day, once for filming wides and once for close-ups. The two runs were then edited together (differences in the light between the two were a pain). The footage from the concert was nice to have but not really usable for making a film like this.

The score calls for a long silence and then up to an hour of ticking. We decided to shorten this considerably. The metronomes are supposed to be fully wound but we had to limit that to 13 turns on average (more for faster tempos and fewer for slower tempos). A team of festival volunteers, cooks, and musicians then set them off, on cue, as quickly as possible for escaping.