Banjo vs. Guitar and Out of Tune (videopoems)

This entry is part 7 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems


Watch on YouTube


Watch on YouTube

Two more videopoems in support of the new collection. I’ve included YouTube links because for me, at least, the versions on Vimeo are not entirely satisfactory. They sort of hesitate and pop at a few places. (Is anyone else getting this?)

“Banjo vs. Guitar” is the first in this series to use public-domain images from somewhere other than I had the idea of using solar eclipse imagery, so went straight to NASA’s YouTube channel. There were some pleasant surprises in the editing process, for example the way the sun’s corona evokes a stringed instrument, and I liked the way it added a cosmic dimension not present in the original text. But as is almost always the case with me, I started with the soundtrack: a version of the famous Mexican folk song “Cielito Lindo” for clawhammer banjo and classical guitar from a guy on SoundCloud named Juan Cordero, who turned out to be very friendly and open to my using the piece. Here’s his original version.

The second videopoem, “Out of Tune,” presented an obvious challenge for the soundtrack, and I experimented with samples of bluegrass bands tuning up, but it just seemed too literal, and I decided I would have better luck with a very basic piece of music played very slowly. Again, SoundCloud delivered: “Slow Met De Banjo” by SoundCloud user David12801280, licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike licence. The images are from an old home movie of a road trip across the U.S., much of it on the storied Route 66. Whoever shot it seems to have had ADHD, but there were plenty of interesting shots nonetheless. I’m worried that the truck-in-a-ditch part is too obvious and the rest of it not obvious enough, though the visual analogy of meteor crater to ear pleases me, and I like the ramshackle, wind-whipped roadside stands as symbols of breakdown.