July 31, 2007
I don't really like writing eulogies; instead, I think this review of Bergman's last film, composed two years ago and reposted below, might suffice. It's more of a memorial than I could probably muster now, in any case.
Ingmar Bergman retired from the cinema for the first time in 1984, after making Fanny And Alexander. Of this decision, he wrote in his autobiography, The Magic Lantern,
Bergman was aware of the value of legacy, and understandably did not want to end on a minor note, nor to have his last film be subjected to the unplanned excavations for meaning subjected upon unexpected final works like Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. Fanny And Alexander, his most literally autobiographical film, would have been an admirable bow.
But perhaps he called it quits too early, for over the next twenty years, during which the theater (his first love) once again became the primary outlet for his creative passion, he strayed now and then towards cinema. He wrote screenplays, and some of them were directed by friends or confidants, including one, Faithless, helmed by his longtime muse Liv Ullmann. And throughout the nineties he made films for Swedish television, loosely based on his parents' relationship. He'd made TV films in the past, and the results included Fanny And Alexander and, prior to that, Scenes From A Marriage.
Over the past year Bergman has retired again - first, and perhaps more momentously, from the theater; and now, with Saraband, a sequel to Scenes From A Marriage, from film. He is eighty seven years old and one suspects that this time, he means it. This picture seems to be, almost by implicit design, a very real swan song.
The characters of Johan (Erland Josephson) and Marianne (Ullmann) from 1974's Scenes are perhaps the only two in Bergman's repertoire whom a sequel truly befits. In the original film (both its three and five hour versions), the two go from husband and wife to enemies to adulterers to distant friends, over the course of a decade. Because through all this they remain (in a way) in love, so it is that when the screen fades to black one longs to spend more time with them, with this couple who seem to voice every feeling the sexes can share - including those they normally hide from each other. Bergman made this film towards the end of that extraordinary run that frequently dealt with other facets of marriage, relationships and sex - Cries And Whispers, Shame, The Passion Of Anna, among others - and everything he learned about himself in the making of those films (for indeed, his films are nothing if not self-exploratory) ended up on screen in Scenes From A Marriage.
Three subsequent decades of love, life and marriage have given Bergman more material to explore; accordingly, when the film begins, Johan and Marianne haven't seen each other for thirty years, and their first glimpse of each other is one of bittersweet joy. Perhaps there is less flux in the twilight years, for Saraband is under two hours in length, and Marianne and Johan are catalysts for much of the plot, rather than the sole focus of it; but the first time they see each other in the film, on a porch dappled with autumnal sunlight, after Marianne has awakened Johan with an innocent kiss - perhaps to see for herself which of the emotions given rise by the reunion are real and which are simply nostalgia - the weight of their shared lifetime is palpable.
In Scenes, the couple had two daughters who were scarcely seen. Those girls, now grown, are mentioned here and there by Marianne, and seen in photograph. They've disappointed her, in their various ways; one has married a lawyer and lives in Australia, and the other suffers from intense dementia and no longer can recognize her own mother. They represent the part of her that died when she separated from Johan. She married again, more than once, but had no more children; and then she had an operation. "They took my my uterus and my ovaries," she tells Johan. "Does that make you sad?" he asks her and she nods, smiling that sort of smile Ullmann has always excelled at, the type that conveys an entire history of feelings. And who but Bergman could write an exchange like that, so understanding of women, and so aware of the way such understanding dawns on men so suddenly and simply?
Johan, on the other hand, had several more children after leaving Marianne. One of them, Henrik (Börje Ahlstedt), is middle-aged now himself; he's a failed musician who has moved back to his father's property with his teenaged daughter Karin (Julia Dufvenius), following the death of his wife Anna. He's pushing Karin to become a solo cellist, to fulfill his own shortcomings, and their lessons frequently end in violent outbursts. Theirs is a relationship that has crossed some sort of line; aside from the physical abuse, there is the uncomfortable discovery that Henrik sleeps with Karin. Nothing literally sexual occurs between them, but one senses that she came to occupy some perversely amalgamated place in his life after Anna's death.
Anna is the fifth character in the film. She is seen in photographs, spoken of in long soliloquies, and represents a serene, unattainable sort of love. A love too pure to live. Johan certainly loved her, and he loves her daughter, Karin (who shares that name with Bergman's own mother), but he hates Henrik with a resolve that seems almost unnatural for a father. At first we think we understand why, for Henrik is a shameful, shambling wreck of a man; indeed, I think he is the most pathetic character Bergman has ever created. But then a mirror is held up and the root of Henrik's failure and Johan's hatred for him is shown to be Johan himself. This man, so majestic in stature and so copious with his studies, is still capable of the same pettiness and cruelty he was when we first met him thirty years prior.
This, paradoxically, is why Johan is a more sympathetic character than Henrik, and why Henrik's eventual fate is pitiable but not heartbreaking (although it should not be considered as dismissible as Bergman makes out to be - that he does is the movie's greatest flaw). When Marianne learns, along with us, what Johan has done to his son, she weeps and shakes her head disapprovingly; she's saddened, but this man has saddened her before, and she knows him too well to be surprised. We, too, know what Johan is capable of; he's capable of leaving his wife of ten years on a whim; of returning to her, and leaving her again. He is, in many ways, a despicable man, but he's a part of her, and as much as Bergman casts his sympathies with Marianne's perspective, he's a part of us as well. Hate is based in ignorance, and while Johan himself may be ignorant, we are not.
Bergman's dialogue, in concert with his camera's lens, has always cut with exquisite precision to the heart of the matter, opening up wells of sadness and memory, or drawing deep wounds with a knife so sharp that one fails to notice the incision until the pain is, suddenly, almost unbearable. There is a great deal of that pain here, but there also seems to be an acceptance of it; Marianne and Johan have lived twice and triple the lives of Henrik and Karin, and are aware of some things that must come with old age. Perhaps they know that pain may define life but need not rule it; or perhaps those mysterious smiles of Marianne's simply mean she's learned all the better how to bear it. I'm aware that I, viewing this film at the age of 24, may realize one day that the pleasure of the prolonged embrace the characters share together at the end of the film is not mutual. Bergman could not have made this film in this way when he was forty or fifty; likewise, I will not look at Saraband the same way when I am the age of the characters it is about.
It is, in that sense, timeless, and only in a way that can be achieved when an entire lifetime is available for retrospect. That is why this is the perfect curtain call for Bergman's career, although, considering that he has never made an impersonal work, any film would have sufficed. But this return to the familiar, the beloved, has a resonance to it that would be lacking in a purely original film. Although Scenes From A Marriage and this, its postscript, are not autobiographical in the manner that Fanny And Alexander was, it is almost too easy to recognize that Johan, the brutal but sensitive man, is Bergman himself, and Marianne his many loves. This is his love letter to Her, his apology, his profession. Indeed, the film is prefaced with a simple dedication: to Ingrid (this would be Ingrid Van Rosen, the woman to whom he was married from 1971 until her death in 1995; it is telling that he wrote Scenes From A Marriage just a few years after their own marriage).
As a postscript: in his literal autobiography, in the same chapter from which I quoted at the outset of this review, Bergman wrote of a shot that he was particularly pleased with.
"Sometime there is a special happiness in being a film director. And unrehearsed expression is born like that, and the camera registers that expression...The agony, the intangible, was there for a few seconds and never returned. Neither was it there earlier, but the strip of film caught the moment. That is when I think days and months of predictable routine have paid off. It is possible I live for those brief moments."
Saraband, like all of Bergman's best work, is full of the moments that have kept him alive. While it may be his final work, one hopes that the passion it contains overflows for as long as it needs to.
July 28, 2007
Life Is But A...
James is two days into shooting his new film, Merrily, Merrily. It's like a family reunion: we've got a crew full of familiar faces from Ciao and The Outlaw Son, and it feels like everyone's just hanging out and having fun and just so happening to create some beautiful footage in the process.
Listening to some of the dialogue tonight gave me a serious case of deja vu; I'd almost forgotten that this film is based on a concept that James and I came up with years and years and years ago, back when I had really long hair and he was clean shaven and we were driving vans for a living. Turning to the entry of my journal dated November 8, 2000, I find that I wrote "My new script is finally picking up steam. It is about a girl who doesn't exist. How cool is that?" Not cool enough to finish, apparently. But now here it is, all this time later, going before cameras in an iteration many times removed and yet still ever so slightly the same. It's pretty neat.
July 23, 2007
I Look Like An Evil Wizard
I haven't read the new Harry Potter book yet, but I think I'm going to go buy it today. I'm excited. I did see the new movie, and was completely underwhelmed - but then again, I'd just watched Brad Neely's Wizard People, Dear Reader, so how could the real thing compare?
Anyway, I shaved for the first time in two months the other day and it occurred to me that with a bit of Photoshop work I might pass for Voldemort. So I gave it a shot, and in doing so came to the sad realization that I needed almost no Photoshop work at all.
I naturally look like an evil wizard. I guess that's something I'm just going to have to come to terms with.
July 22, 2007
Rolling Roadshow: Boogie Nights
I missed all the bittersweet festivities when the original Alamo Drathouse closed its doors last month; my memories of it end, alongside so many other things, at SXSW back in March. But I can't tell you how nice it was to see their logo in that Reseda parking lot when I pulled up for the Rolling Roadshow 10th Anniversary screening of Boogie Nights last night. And I can't tell you how wonderful it was to see the film itself on the big screen again. Seeing that irradiated 35mm image cut across the parking lot, hearing the cheers from the crowd when those characters made their grandstanding entrances. The fabled prosthetic was there (it seemed smaller in person). So was PTA, although I missed his introduction, arriving just in time to catch the tail end of the Alamo's vintage trailer presentation preceding the feature. I don't know how long it's been since I've actually seen the Boogie Nights (although the commentary tracks provide recurring white noise on late nights working) but I felt like I was watching it for the first time. Which I suppose is a sign that I've aged, althoguh the film iteslf sure hasn't. It's better than ever.
It was a good time to see it, too. Work's been pretty slow these past two weeks. Can't quite quantify or qualify it.
Posted by David Lowery at 2:28 PM
July 21, 2007
Out To Sea
The suspected death of Jeremy Blake is haunting me.
Posted by David Lowery at 12:51 PM
July 19, 2007
Silver Screens, And Linings
This has suddenly become my favorite image from Moxie, the new documentary I'm working on. It somehow feels like it sums up everything I want the film to be about. I had this notion that I could somehow exhibit the work in layers, with this image playing at algorhithmically random levels of transparency on top the the actual film, so that you never get to see the cut in it complete state. I don't know how that could be accomplished, though, aside from projecting a feed directly from Final Cut Pro or using two projectors.
And anyway, it's the sort of idea I should save for a different project. What I've realized in making this is that I have to balance my concerns as a filmmaker with those of my subject. It's a sort of responsibility which I'm sure every documentarian is familiar with; but it's something that I've never had to deal with before, and it's been a fascinating experience, trying to maintain that consideration within the formal contexts I want to explore. It's probably the reason I'm only seven minutes into the cut so far.
And now for some sad news. After editing all day, I put my boots on and got up to go to a movie. At the moment, I live within a ten minute walk of the New Beverly Cinema,, a magical little cinema which has since 1978 been a full-time double bill revival houses. It's where Tarantino programmed his month of Grindhouse prints last spring, and it's where I saw the late Gary Graver exhibit his collection of rare Orson Welles prints just over a year ago. The lineup changes every other day, and one could easily spend every night of the week there and quickly get a hopscotch education in cinema, but for whatever reason I hadn't gone in ages - not since a Vertigo/Rear Window bill last summer, in fact.
Last night, I walked by the box office and noticed that The Battle Of Algiers, which I'd never had a chance to see before, was going to be playing, and that the following night they were going to feature Lost Highway as part of a Lynch double bill. I quickly made plans with friends to see both. But when I walked up to the theater this evening, the marquee was dark. The doors were locked. A hastily handwritten sign in the window stated that "Due to family tragedy, the New Beverly will be closed until further notice." A small crowd gathered outside, until someone drove up to explain that the owner of the theater, who operated it day in and day out with his son, had passed away earlier in the day.
I imagine he died doing what he loved, which is a happy thing; I don't think anyone could run a theater like the New Beverly for three decades without having a passion for it. There's an art to showing movies, a sort of showmanship crossed with curatorial craft, and it's slowly being lost. It'll never fade completely (not as long as devotees are willing to set up screenings in Parisian catacombs), but as of today its its lustre is a little bit dimmer than it was before.
July 18, 2007
That 8 1/2 Thing
Tom Hall and Dennis Cozzalio both tagged me for that new meme that's going around. I'm always one to cave under pressure; hence, here are eight random facts about myself. I'm supposed to preceed them with the meme rules, but honestly, I think it's all pretty self-explanatory.
1. I discovered the other night that my bathroom window affords me a magnificent view of the neighbors' massive plasma television screen. While marveling at its size, I realized they could have precisely the opposite experience simply by looking out their window. At which point I hastened to grab a towel.
2. I've never fired a gun, and I never want to own one because I'm afraid I'll wind up shooting myself.
3. In his response to this meme, Matt Dentler noted how he once auditioned for the role of Robin in Batman Forever. I can do him one better: when I was twelve, I auditioned for the lead role in Children Of The Corn 3 (or maybe 4, or possibly 5). I didn't have a headshot, though, and I was at an age where I refused to be photographed, so all I had to offer the casting agent was a snapshot of me dressed up as Johnny Depp in Ed Wood from a Halloween or two prior.
4. I've never won an arm wrestling match.
5. I'm not a musician, but after seeing Melville's Army Of Shadows for the second time last summer, I was so excited that, while the credits were still rolling, I spontaneously wrote a song about it. I recorded one draft of it, with Curtis accompanying me on the saw. It needs some work.
6. My first kiss was with the lead actress from James M. Johnston's first short film. It was at the wrap party. Not exactly the ideal circumstance for this young romantic, but I suppose it was about time.
7. When I was eight, my parents told me that if I worked really hard, I could probably be a successfuly filmmaker by the time I was thirteen. I think this was actually a ploy to get me to take my Latin lessons more seriously, but nonetheless, I endeavored for a time to prove them right, and also drew floor plans for the house I planned to build after earning my riches. Among other features, it would have had a replica of Giger's Alien that would pop out of the staircase to terrorize visitors.
8. Every now and then, I'm overcome with the sense that, if I actually tried, I could probably fly. This usually occurs when I'm very high up. Incidentally, I love to climb things.
Posted by David Lowery at 7:48 PM
July 17, 2007
Dallas Video Festival, 2007
The DVF kicks off its 20th year in two weeks, and the just-released lineup represents the festival's rebellious, mixed media idealogy better than ever. Screening this year are Ry Russo Young's Orphans, Sofie Fiennes' A Pervert's Guide To Cinema, Don Hertzfeldt's Everything Will Be OK, M Dot Strange's We Are The Strange, more Evan Mather, more Jay Rosenblatt, lots of Jem Cohen, Fish Kill Flea, The Whole Shootin' Match, The Hole Story and a trio of films by my friend Frank Mosley, including his epic Little Boy. Also, on August 1st, there's a short film program whose title co-opts Jamie Stuart's term "Slackavetes," and which includes Bryan Poyser's Grammy's, Mr. Mosley's Leave, the Duplass Brother's The Intervention and also The Outlaw Son. I'm always happy to be in good company.
And I'm especially excited that festival director Bart Weiss programmed Frank V. Ross' latest feature, HOHOKAM. Frank's films have been blanketed under the whole Mumblecore banner since its inception, but they're only just now beginning to get the attention they deserve. HOHOKAM is a gently elusive, subtly political slice of kitchen sink drama set in the arid Arizona desert; it is an incredibly mature follow-up to the rather heartbreaking Quietly On By, and I wish audiences could have the chance to view both pictures back to back (New Yorkers, in fact, will be able to do just that, when they screen at the IFC Center on August 4th as part of the New Talkies series). Frank's aesthetic may take some getting used to, but this quote from a really great interview in ShortEnd Magazine offers an inkling as to what to expect:
"You see this woman lean out of the bar in such a way, pick up an ashtray, empty it into a bag, and you say, 'Okay, I’m going to make a movie about that.' "
What a terrific thing to make a movie about. Don't miss HOHOKAM, or the rest of the Video Fest. It all kicks off on July 31st, and I'm sure I'll have more to write about it as it draws closer.
July 15, 2007
Finally making its way online is The Walk, one of several reinterpretations of The Outlaw Son - this one from Wiley Wiggins, who took the longest shot in the movie and made it even longer. I could write a wordy essay about the recontextualization of the imagery and the subjugation of artistic intent, but I think I'll just let the piece speak for itself. It's really beautiful. For best effect, imagine it projected on a gallery wall.
July 11, 2007
WALL• E & Ben Burtt
I finally got out to see Ratatouille the other night, and found my spirits soaring from the first frame onward; it's one of the best pictures I've seen in a long time, studio or otherwise. Brad Bird is an exceptional filmmaker, any way you cut it; like Don Hertzfeldt and a handful of others currently working in animation, he makes films that entirely transcend the particulars of their form.
Preceeding the feature, however, was a teaser for next year's Pixar release, a film by Andrew Stanton entitled WALL• E. The titular character is an adorable little robot (resembling Johnny 5 crossed with a puppy) who, from the tiny glimpse we get here, appears to be working in the service of a plot that will send him out on a traditional Campbellian journey of self discovery. But classical motifs be damned - I'm completely enchanted by this trailer, and I can't wait to see the finished film. Part of the reason is that I love robots. The other is that, as evidenced so wonderfully in the trailer (the character's annunciation of his own name at the conclusion of the trailer is just about the best thing ever), the robots are being "voiced" by Ben Burtt.
Burtt is most famous as a sound designer. His first big movie was Star Wars, and he won a Special Achievement Oscar for it; but after the initial heyday of Lucasfilm in the 80s, he largely disappeared from the big screen, working on Lucasfilm TV and videogame projects while other Ranch audio alumni like Gary Rydstrom (whose directorial debut Lifted plays before Ratatouille) went on to gain more public acclaim and renown throughout the industry. Reading J.W. Rinzler's outstanding volume The Making Of Star Wars last month, I was reminded of just how much Burtt contributed to the trilogy; every sound that has become so ingrained in pop culture was his creation (many of them, including R2-D2, actually were him), the product of months of field recording, experimenting, cataloguing and editing; he even ushered the Wilhelm Scream into the level of prominence it now enjoys.
His name returned to the big screen in 1999. Growing up with an intimate knowledge of everyone who helped bring the Star Wars saga to the big screen, it was somewhat thrilling for me to see that Burtt had graduated to picture editor on The Phantom Menace. He would go on to cut the subsequent prequels, an experience which seems to have been a turning point. There's a moment in the Episode 1 making-of documentary where he explains how Lucas would pick out the elements he liked in every take and combine them into a single shot; he sounded very wary of the implications of such freedom on the craft of filmmaking. Maybe Lucas went too far for his tastes, because after Episode III Burtt left Lucasfilm for the pastures off its progeny, Pixar. I'm anxious to see what he does there. And according to IMDB, he has a directorial effort entitled Chassis in the works.
A great film is fifty percent great sound, and as I've grown ever more aware of the role that audio has on cinema, it's become increasingly clear that Ben Burtt is one of the unsung heroes in the development of motion pictures as we know them today. Regardless of what he does next, I'm looking forward to hearing and/or seeing it.
Posted by David Lowery at 7:20 PM
July 10, 2007
The Smashing Pumpkins: Zeitgeist
Being the angsty sort that I am, it's been somewhat disconcerting to come to the realization that my adolescence is no longer a recent memory. I've been doing my best to qualify and quantify whatever passage has occurred and is occurring and will occur - to grow up, at least a little bit - and so it's been rather confusing these past few months to suddenly see billboards and advetisements for a new Smashing Pumpkins album, to hear radio DJs say "new Pumpkins, coming up next," to see tour announcements and that pale bald head on magazine covers. It's like 1997 all over again. A decade and a few odd months have elapsed since a friend who is having a baby in a few weeks gave me Melon Collie And The Infinite Sadness on cassette, since Billy Corgan's melodramatic whine first gave definition to my equally hyperbolic sense of teenage discontent, this new record has coming along and thrown me into a bit of a developmental tailspin.
Which is to say: I've been listening to Zeitgeist for the past week, and am having trouble deciding whether it's any good, or if my ears are merely muffled by nostalgia. It's certainly a better record than Corgan's abysmal solo album a few years back. Some of the songs, like the opening number Doomsday Clock, sound like vintage Pumpkins and could fit right into an iTunes shuffle of older material. But if there's a problem with the album, that's exactly it: whatever attempts Corgan makes at contemporary relevance (case in point: the album cover) fall pretty flat, and I'm not sure if the record serves any greater than purpose than as a slipstream - an opportunity, for both Corgan and his audience, to make a desperate grab at something profound and effusive that's forever slipping further away.
On a related note: I read Craig Thompson's graphic novel Blankets last night. My friend Tony gave it to me. He told me to read it one sitting and to be prepared for all that old bittersweet hurt to come rushing back. He wasn't lying. I had to put it down a few times, just to catch myself from falling.
July 8, 2007
Nick & David, Clark & Michael, And Gene Parmesan
I dropped Nick off at the airport at 5:30 this morning. It turned out to be the wrong airport. By the time I got home to find all the urgent missed calls on the mobile I'd conveniently forgotten to take with me, he'd missed his flight and was in a taxi on the way to LAX. It was a nice, madcap curtain on a weekend in which we somehow mangaged to set two new personal records: we finished a feature screenplay in exactly three days. And it's a comedy.
Granted, this script was based on something we wrote back in 2001, but all that we hung onto were the character names. We spent the first day hammering out a plot on index cards, and the following three firmly committed to finishing each of the three acts within a twenty-four hour period. 26 pages on Thursday, 30 on Friday and a marathon 40 yesterday, resulting in a 96 page first draft that I actually think might be pretty decent.
Bouncing ideas off a co-writer is always fun, especially so when the script is an all-out comedy, and it was a really invigorating experience . We took a few breaks here and there to eat, sleep, make coffee, walk around the block and watch the latest episode of our new favorite web series. Nick also showed me a few episodes of Arrested Development, which my brother's been trying to get me into for years. I countered by reading aloud passages from Zizek's The Parallax View. Both proved very useful to the process.
And now Nick's back in Texas and I'm back to the solitary grind, with a finished script (and pictures) to remind us of the rare joys of collaboration (although I think Nick got an unexpected dose of me at my confrontational worst; when I get in the zone, I can be a real bitch of a collaborator). We're going to polish it up over the rest of the month or so, and then hand it over to the suits and see if we actually did manage, for once, to be funny.
July 6, 2007
A month or two ago, I was putting together outlines and budgets and other things for the feature I plan to shoot this fall, and included among those other statistic was a start day of October 6th. Three months away. I don't know if I'll make that -- all sorts of things might happen to get in the way, the least impressive of which would be a mere lack of money -- but it is, at the very least, something to labor towards. And to look forward to.
So now it's on the record.
July 4, 2007
Red White And Blue
This is a 4th of July portrait by Nick Prendergast. From what I've gathered, it's been blown up to gigantic proportions, mounted on wood and is on display at an art show somewhere in Texas starting today.
It was my first time modeling. I'm glad my palor proved suitable for the thematic requirements of the project, but I especially like it because I think it pretty accurately reflects my feelings for what has, after the epic low points of 2000 and 2002, become my least favorite holiday. I remember one year where I didn't even bother getting out of bed on the 4th in an effort to avoid whatever misfortune was headed my way. This is why A Catalog Of Anticipations III (which comes second in the chronology most people have seen at this point) climaxes at a 4th of July picnic. Back when I had the idea for it last October, it was going to be a Halloween party. Then that changed to New Years. Then the whole story for the piece became a lot more personal and the only way to end it was with on a summer's day with fireworks.
Nick is also shunning the holiday this year. Or at least celebrating it in a different way: he's flying into LA later this morning to spend a week working on a new screenplay with me. Well, technically, it's an old screenplay. It's something we wrote over an inebriated summer back in 2001 that we decided we should brush off. It's going to be a fun (and hopefully fruitful) next few days...
July 3, 2007
This interview with Bill Callahan struck so many chords with me that I'm just going to have to copy and paste these pieces of it.
You've come at an unfortunate time in that I am still trying to sort it all out. I cannot tell you exactly what is going on now. I look at my hands and I don't know what they wrought in the past. Are they the hands of a bad man? I used to be an artist. I don't think I am right now. I don't know if I ever will be again. I am something else. I was a student of personal strife. I ran with the wrong crowd early on. I tortured myself for a song. I thought it was the way.
I equate being an artist with impaling yourself on your art. Only feeding, feeding the thing always. And it being starving. That's what that old forgotten song "Strawberry Rash," was about. As I said earlier, I don't yet know what I am now. Any talk of "craft" makes me laugh. My music looks outward, it does not gaze upon itself in admiration. Artisanal is for Cheesemakers. I don't know anything about music theory. Every time I approach my guitar it's like the first time. There's no craft in that. Although I do often think of working out a guitar part as "carving." There is the huge block of silence and you carve little bits out of it by making sound.
That about says it all.