Question of tense usage

Bruce Baird baird at
Fri Aug 27 13:14:48 EDT 2010


Apologies for cross posting, and please pardon a question that is  
slightly afield of Japanese Cinema.

In my manuscript about butoh, I want to write about a 1972 dance  
which is preserved on film strip by Ouchida Keiya (who is now  
deceased and therefore not interviewable).  There are indications  
that the film-strip is not an accurate portrayal of what the audience  
would have seen in the actual performance.  For example, the sound  
continues across cuts and there are a couple of places where the  
sounds of stamping do not match the dancers' feet stamping.  There  
are no coughs or people clearing their throats.  Thus it seems like  
the sound must have been added as a part of post-production.   
Colleagues in Japan tell me that given the limitations of recording  
in Japan, it would have been very unlikely that in 1972 they could  
have recorded the live performance and added the recording to the  
edited video, and made it match up as well as it did (not  
withstanding the few stamping misses--most of the stamping matches  
nicely), and that it is thus likely that they had to have sound  
professionals come in and re-record the sound.

I would normally describe the dance in past tense, but I feel that I  
should be specific about that fact that I am really describing a film  
strip (which may not be the same thing as the dance was).  Obviously  
the editing of the film strip and the recording of the sound track  
also happened in the past, but somehow I have the sense that since I  
am really talking about a recording of the dance rather than the  
dance itself, I should use the present tense.

So two questions.  In 1972 or early 1973, given the technology extant  
in Japan at the time, does anyone have a second opinion about the  
likelihood that Ouchida or any sound professional could have used an  
hour long live recording, edited out coughs and throat clearing, and  
matched it to edited dance footage with only two (or three) obvious   
glitches where the sound of stamping feet wouldn't match the visual  
stamping feet?

Two: Suggestions for what tense to use when writing about a filmic  
image rather than the event itself technically?

Thanks in advance,


Bruce Baird
Assistant Professor
Asian Languages and Literatures
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Butô, Japanese Theater, Intellectual History

717 Herter Hall
161 Presidents Drive
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003-9312
Phone: 413-577-4992
Fax: 413-545-4975
baird at

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