In this chapter the author discusses his new musical score for Walter Ruttmann’s short, abstract film Lichtspiel Opus 3 (1924), composed in 2014. To begin with, the film is contextualised and its spatio-temporal characteristics are closely scrutinised. Overall, Ruttmann avoids montage in favour of a more evolutionary, evenly proportioned time character; meanwhile, the choreographic elements, varied repetitions, strong formal contrasts and fluid rhythmic patterns all appear to spring from the same structural impulse as music.

The author’s ‘analytical’ compositional approach was influenced by the multimedia theories of Nicholas Cook and the music of Conlon Nancarrow, in which contrasting layers of rhythmic activity are clearly discernible, like a musical ‘split screen’ effect. A research method was developed for musically interrogating Ruttmann’s abstract film text which involved reading it as a set of musical instructions, or ‘score’. This then became the starting point for a multi-faceted, polyphonic musical response, which illuminates formal detail and structure while simultaneously contributing additional layers of movement and meaning.

In the finished piece, the music and picture are not completely independent of one another; rather, they represent different versions of one another, played simultaneously. Therefore, ‘audiovisual heterophony’ most accurately describes the multimedia texture captured in this work.