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Transmedia from music

Learn from Examples: Transmedia from Music- Meeting Isang Yun
Week 5, Lecture 4 Continuing on from our last session, I’d like to give you one more example of developing a core idea from a classic to transmedia storytelling. Classical music and art, or anything for that matter, can serve as an important source material for any of us. All of these works present motifs and themes that would be worthwhile inspiration for literature or art. Moreover, the subject matter and portraiture must have been significant for them to have gained renown of the art genre. This concept brings to mind a musical piece by Ravel called “Bolero.” Originally inspired by a Spanish folk song, Ravel’s ballet premiered in 1928 and became well known as “the Rite of Spring.”
The repetitive rhythm and the musical aspects of the story were important, leading to the piece’s adaptation across multiple musical genres. The song was an instance of transmedia, but the original message was preserved as the setting. At one point an artist produced work based on Ravel’s composition, and then a postcard and a novel followed. What stood in the center of all this other work was the original musical product and its repetitive motif. The reason why I have chosen to analyze this particular song from the transmedia perspective is to demonstrate how, as the idea expanded through various media both liberally and naturally, the original energy has still remained intact.
You are looking at the musical scores of Yun I-sang (1917~1995), a South Korean composer spent the later part of his life residing in Germany. Many people know his name, but most are unfamiliar with his extraordinary work as a composer. Though this may be a challenging example to understand because may not have heard of his work or be educated in music; I have listened to it myself, and found it hard to understand. It does, however, have its charms, leading Yun to be valued and respected as a modern composer. But what, then, is that charm? If you examine it carefully, start from finding that charm? will its eventual value be based on its character? Or what will that charm become?
Asking these questions will be how the core idea emerges. At some later point, another creator turned the artist’s work into a play. Let’s have a look. You’re looking at Yun’s work titled “Etiquette Music,” with video and dance presented together in one piece. His music is expressed through another form to convey the theme and the story. This means that the message used to be expressed through the medium of music, but the medium itself has expanded. If the artist was a writer, a film director, a choreographer, or an artist, it may have been quite different.
This piece is the work of transmedia storytelling applied to pure art: work that is based on Yun’s story but with literary imagination. The infinite incidents in his story have many political undertones, while the image of an old man longing to go home is also quite touching. The story of his life becomes content that functions as a very important core story. Another aspect we should not neglect is the vast amount of music. Even if we lack knowledge on his key achievements, they still hold incredible value and can provide substance to the viewer. If he had left any traces of interviews or photos, then those would open up another pathway for a different kind of imagination.
The result would be that then his inapproachable music would become highly accessible, like a documentary of his life story. With the addition of the background stories of other musicians, there is room to find Yun’s work more approachable. The work’s unique structure one that utilizes the entire stage screen, or the entire structure of the play presents his compositional technique, which is less visible in the music. In doing so we can begin to explore his psychological world or his creative structure, employing a visualizing process. A subject’s energy and charms that were not fully expressed due to lack of diversity in media can be rediscovered and restructured using various other media. In sum, this was an example of transmedia storytelling focusing on music.

Continuing on from our last session, I’d like to give you another example of developing a core idea from a classic to transmedia storytelling. Classical music and art, or anything for that matter, can serve as an important source material for any of us.

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Transmedia Storytelling

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