Mar 23, 2009

Belarmino 0

Belarmino Fragoso was a portuguese boxer and essentially a lisboner, made famous by Fernando Lopes' portrayal in the 1964 movie Belarmino. Lopes worked in RTP and was part of a bohemian circle that comprised several painters, journalists, musicians, novelists and poets that trudged the Lisbon night, concealling their activities from the fascist regime that would easilly find them subversive, if they were to traspire outside the intellectual spheres. Belarmino Fragoso was, at the time, a sympathetic bouncer at a cabaret - the Ritz - and quite a character, that Lopes overheard complainting about a case of mistaken identities in a boxing match involving himself and saw the opportunity for a film to be made. Lopes set out to shoot Belarmino with his family, training at Sporting Clube de Portugal, fighting, chasing girls, drinking wich he mixed with interviews conducted by journalist/writer Baptista-Bastos, in a melancholic portrait of a decaying boxer where fact and fiction collide, much like Belarmino's first person description of his own boxing feats. The film was shot in the gorgeous Augusto Cabrita's black and white cinematography, boldly revealling Lopes' nouvelle vague aesthetics and neo-realistic leanings and presenting Belarmino as a tragic and somewhat ridiculous character, a working-class hero to be. The soundtrack was composed by Manuel Jorge Veloso and Justiniano Canelhas and performed by the Hot Club Quartet, a pionner jazz club and school regularly attended by Lopes himself and friends.
I was blown away by the movie when I saw it. It's very daring, even by today's standards, in it's post-documental style. Belarmino is indeed a great character and a natural showman, whose leg-game and truculent ways in life are paradigmatic of a sort of lisboner trait. What's also very noticeable about it is the soundtrack and the sound design: it's not only the very contemporary jazz music, but the way Belarmino's Lisbon is acoustically poured into the movie. Since I saw Belarmino, I thought of a project and a bit of a technical challenge that I always wanted to try: creating music, using only a given source of sound, and restraining from using anything else but that source of sound. Naturally, it couldn't be music or it would be a mere remix, it had to be a multifaceted thing that would allow a certain versatillity and the opening scene from Belarmino did it for me.
So, what I'm proposing myself to do under your blogspherical attentive eye is to go from film to music, in a sampling and sequencing endeavour, revealling all it's technical, creative, ethical and semiotic difficulties, solutions and mis-haps. And if you're wondering if I fully know what I'm about to do, let me tell you that I don't - and that is just what's so nice about it.


  1. Let's do this.....
    I'm all for it: I can't wait to put my newest acquisition (Korg ES1-Mk2) to the test (sample-wise).
    Specially after having found some Max/pd patches that transform this beauty into a FREAK-Controller.

    Having given birth to the idea, I challenge you to choose from a set of samples (Belarmino)... (not many, by the way) and send them to me (At this stage, I would prefer working on the rhythmic part, as to try out my new toy). You could point some insights on where you're planning to head to and I would work/mangle on some patterns based on your material.
    When we have the chance, we'd meet and discuss the possible outcomes of our separate doings..

  2. edit...
    Being that you've given birth to the idea... etc etc etc..