I went out to do some recording at Moseley Bog early this morning, so I thought I’d document what I got up to and show a little bit of what I managed to capture while I was there. Thankfully the weather held out – absolutely no wind or rain – and I was able to get some great recordings. Not the most professional video I’ll admit, but I hope you enjoy!
Mother and Child by the Sea
Johan Christian Dahl
I chose this romantic seascape for Dahl’s use of lighting. I like the way the moon is the only source of light, creating the reflections off the sea and the silhouettes of the figures and the fishing boat. It also highlights the layers found within the background of the painting, from the stormy clouds with moonlight piercing through, the calm sunset and water, to the craggy rocks. This has inspired my compositions background which will consist of four layers, each reflecting the elements and textures present within the painting.
Another aspect of the painting which drew me in was the way the figures present are silhouetted in shadows, cloaking them in mystery. The figure of the mother seems caring, holding the child, and standing stoically without showing much emotion through the position of her body. The child on the other hand shows excitement through the way they are reaching out towards the boat. I wish to portray their characters through my music, evoking their personalities through gestural material. The mother will have a gesture with a steadfast quality which influences the more erratic gestures which portray the child.
The boat is also shrouded in mystery. Dahl’s mentor and father figure died before he finished this work and I would therefore like to add a mournful tone to my composition, achieved through a melancholy setting and a reflective quality to the slow treatment of layers. I have been listening to Bernard Parmegiani’s Polyphonie which demonstrates the gradual interweaving of these layers which I would like to achieve within my composition. Inserted is his work:
For further reading here is an article from the telegraph about Mother and Child by the Sea and the Moonrise over Europe Exhibit at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts in 2006.
A beach near Trouville – Eugene Boudin
We were encouraged this week to visit the Barber institute’s archives and explore the histories behind our chosen works. It was not only fascinating to learn the life of my painting beyond the gallery but also quite valuable in illuminating some of the mysteries of it, and gaining some alternative perspectives. Among the archives were correspondence between curators discussing the piece (many of whom shared the opinion that this was a particularly uninteresting product of Boudin’s output), details of restoration projects and even a photograph taken from approximately the same location Boudin painted from (see left). Interestingly I learnt that this piece was produced not long after a serious growth in tourism for the Trouville area, with many rich families utilising local investment in transport infrastructure to visit the scenic coasts for as short as a weekend.
From studying more of Boudin’s paintings I had noted a noticeable lack of human activity in my chosen work so spent some time speculating the relevance of this. The timeline of these events might suggest Boudin had been underwhelmed by the international provenance Trouville was gaining and so chose to paint a subject reflecting a less superficial or divisive relationship between people and the landscape. Whether true or not, the remote simplicity captured here really inspired me. With this in mind I took a trip last week to Crosby beach in Liverpool in the hope that I could capture a similarly fresh sense of environment through sound. Despite my explorations being cut short by the endeavours of storm Dorris I felt quite successful in what I had recorded and have attached a short collage of recordings below. I hope to use this material to help establish a sense of being on the Trouville coastline with the rich sensory experience this accommodates, before exploring individual sound objects and materials associated with such environments in more detail later on.
Sculpture – The art of making two- or three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster
The Sculpture Boys – Appreciators of the art of making two- or three-dimensional representative or abstract forms, especially by carving stone or wood or by casting metal or plaster.
As the only two students who chose sculptures to inspire our music, Marty and I deemed ‘The Sculpture Boys’ the only sensible title for this blog.
Negro Riding a Goat
Ascribed to Andrea Riccio
This small bronze sculpture in the corner of a room with no context, appealed to me greatly. With nothing telling me how I should respond, I could interpret the piece in any way I wanted.
When viewing the sculpture initially, I imagined a long and difficult journey. It is clear that this small boy is in great discomfort, his muscles are tensed and he is struggling to balance. In contrast, the goat is strong and reliable, with its horns used as reigns to steady the boy.
In my music I wanted to create this sense of an anguished journey, using Marty’s beautiful flute playing to narrate the story. I intend to divide the piece into three sections opening with some dissonant mysterious flutter tonguing, moving into a more spiky and aggressive passage and concluding on soft and floating flute lines.
Here is an unpolished version of my opening section…
Homme Vu Par Une Fleur
I was immediately drawn to Arp’s rather unassuming sculpture when I first saw it on display. A single piece of small curved bronze doesn’t seem like it would be full of inspiring source material for creating a piece of music, but the longer you spend with it, the more small details begin to stand out. Simply through years on display, the metal has begun to corrode and take on elements from it’s surroundings, increasing in detail over time.
I have chosen to reflect the work through an ambient work comprised wholly of synthesised sounds generated in SuperCollider. Using SuperCollider gives a level of customisation and control over sound not available through a more end-user focused synthesis method, allowing me to easily program the subtlest variations in sound that such an artwork demands. The majority of the source material used will be based upon Sine waves as I feel that their simultaneously bare yet warm tone is most in keeping with the contrasting nature of Arp’s sculpture: Smoothly curving but pitted by corrosion, or the warmth of the colours against the coldness of the metal.
The following audio file demonstrates the range of tone available from changing just one aspect of a single note, in this case the harmonics above the base pitch (110Hz).
Flavour of Tears
This week we settled on our final pieces of art and had a great time defacing them with adjectives! I am now well underway with the conception and implementation stage of my work having decided that the political aspect of this piece, especially that to do with the second world war, is to be my focus.
My work is going to focus on the polemic which characterised the death of peace in Europe during the war. Magritte captures this theme in this stark image of a totem bird of peace transformed into a leaf. This leaf is slowly decaying, being eaten away at the heart. Magritte draws the eye constantly to the face of the bird which bares a sad, resigned expression. The humanity which rests there is quite unsettling. Magritte’s use of light draws us to this expression again and again as the brightest point of the painting is at the top of the head of this poignant effigy. The red curtain signifies the encroaching of communism and secrecy, secrecy being the death of peace.
Below is an excerpt from my work using Neville Chamberlain’s famous speech declaring war with Germany in 1939. I have mixed this with other speeches from Winston Churchill and Adolf Hitler. This excerpt was created in SuperCollider (learn more about SuperCollider Here) and is a work in progress.
Primrose Hill – Winter
Primrose Hill is widely known due to its clear view of the city beyond a more rural park area. This is primarily why I chose this piece; there are clear parallels with industry and nature, or synthetic and organic, in electroacoustic music. The fact that this is also a very textural piece, i.e. where brush strokes are unashamedly visible, shows that Auerbach’s apparent aggression when painting was somewhat intentional. I want to bring this out in my work, especially when you consider the irony that this is inevitably meant to be a picturesque scene:
Auerbach has actually created more than fifty versions of this work, which have been very useful in my research for the piece, especially with regard to Auerbach’s approach to glimmering light in the distance. I wanted to focus on these glimmers first, which are most likely representations of lamp posts – I wanted to use these as a primary motif as they seem to be the only instance of the modern world within the otherwise green park. I have replicated this by taking three sine waves, representing a pure but electronic-based medium, and slowly distorting them, primarily using a 50Hz buzz.
Welcome to Sounding Images 2017. This is where students from the course will be posting regularly about their experience and progress towards their final pieces.