Sounds. Anton BATAGOV
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contract

Anton BATAGOV

THE MUSICMAKER'S CONTRACT

NTV/NTV+ channels greatest hits

© 2007 Long Arms Records / Tummo CDLA 07088

 

1. non-special report 0:08
2. tomorrow 1:31
3. a girl and a ball 0:12
4. "total": foreword 1:40
5. weather report: summer 1997 2:02
6. horror 0:16
7. drama 0:18
8. comedy 0:17
9. action 0:18
10. fiction 0:19
11. thriller 0:17
12. western 0:17
13. fairy tale 0:17
14. russian century 1:51
15. a girl and doves 0:12
16. today 0:18
17. today: what happened 2:39
18. a man and a fish 0:12
19. made in hollywood 1:47
20. a squirrel 0:13
21. tomorrow's weather 1:50
22. strongman 0:12
23. "total" at 9 pm 1:45
24. girls with drums 0:12
25. what's the movie? 1:45
26. unknown russia 0:17
27. at home with... 1:19
28. big money 0:17
29. countdown to 2000 1:52
30. a bear 0:12
31. about "that" 0:22
32. kremlin drive 4:13
33. a boy opening a door 0:13
34. autumn 0:31
35. a rabbit 0:13
36. the court is in session 0:46
37. today: hot off the press 0:12
38. night channel 1:04
39. a man and a satellite 0:12
40. voluntary confession 1:41
41. cats 0:12
42. weather report: autumn 1997 2:02
43. a sea-lion 0:12
44. culture for the masses 0:24
45. sport news 0:33
46. green globe 0:33
47. strolling around moscow 1:41
48. the wedding 0:49
49. a boy pretending he is an angel 0:12
50. next up in "total" 2:25
51. an eagle 0:13
52. vintage tv 1:36

total time 48:55

written and recorded in 1997-98
cd version edited and mastered in march 2005

artwork: Nick Shtok
pictures from the original design of the NTV channel: Yelena Kitaeva, Andrei Shelutto

 
 

In the spring of 1997 Russia's NTV channel offered me the position of chief composer. This position required me to write original music for all the channel's productions, ie. music which appears in and between the programs. The duration of all this material was between 3 and 30 seconds, although some tunes were longer (one minute and more): for titles, weather reports, news, and other important events.

It was not an easy decision to accept this offer as it demanded that I confront myself about certain basic issues:
- what is my profession, what are the frames of this profession?
- what is my music style and language, what is the limit to which I can expand them without losing my identity?
- where is the border between art and commercialism?
I had before raised these questions in various situations. At the beginning of my career, I was a classical pianist, then – a pianist playing mostly XX century music, then an avant-garde pianist and an avant-garde/minimalist composer, and after this, a post-minimalist composer who sometimes wrote also music for the theatre, movies, and non-commercial TV projects. At every change I had to answer differently the question "What am I doing?"
But this time I had to gather all the above-mentioned identities, pass them through the food processor, and see what came out.

I accepted the offer, and was the chief NTV channel composer for about a year and a half. During that period I wrote more than 500 tunes.

It turned out that in addition to the musical output, this job also had some philosophical results. When you are writing something "serious" (all composers think like this) you are worried about preserving the features of your style and the uniqueness of your individuality. A TV job has a different goal and a different mode: it is momentary by definition, like today's news which will be yesterday's tomorrow. The fruits of this creative activity penetrate into the viewers' ears day and night, and leave imprints on their minds. However, within a year the entire design of a TV channel will be thrown away and replaced with a new one.

Because of this, this job demands spontaneity and an ability to change one's "dress" momentarily, and see oneself and the whole picture from different perspectives. Suddenly I discovered that a 15-second piece of music could be a fully complete work in itself. It is enough to articulate the essence, and there is nothing to add. After that, when you are writing a two-minute piece, you structure this span in a different manner: these two minutes are now enough for a full-length meditation. And all your hard scruples about "serious/not serious", "my work/somebody else's", "me/not me" flash in the air for a second and disappear forever like landscapes being observed from a fast train's window. We sit and look out of this window/TV screen and watch the events and people running rapidly and switching between one another, and there is no chance to distinguish between so-called reality and so-called fiction. So we have only one choice: we must relax and try to meditate at full speed. And then we shall see all the TV pictures as well as all the composer NN's stylistic adventures in their natural form: in the form of emptiness which never hurries, never wants to achieve something, never belongs to anybody, and which is simply beautiful and ultimate.

Anton Batagov, may 2007
(english translation by A.B. edited by Peter Ringwood)