I chose to compose a piece for this particular work as I felt somewhat more connected to it than the other works in the gallery. I knew that I wanted to use some field recordings in my composition, and the fact that the painting is of a location near to my home town cemented this decision, as I would be able to gain some authentic recordings of the atmosphere surrounding the river. I took inspiration from the painting and used woodwind and string instrumentation to compose the harmonic and melodic aspects of my piece – my choice in instrumentation was influenced by the work’s warm colour palette and ‘sunset’ subject matter, as I wanted to create a ‘warm’ sound. I implemented my field recordings in different ways, that is, I used some unedited sounds but some processed versions as well – I wanted not only to depict my interpretation of the sound of the painting as it is seen, but to also expand the borders of the work as well as the environment shown. To do this, I used various forms of manipulation including granulation, time stretching, resonance generators and high\lowpass filtering to achieve a varied selection of augmented sounds.
Another aspect that I wanted to convey through my piece was the sense of nostalgia imparted on me by the painting – I see this as a combination of happy/sad, or a longing to go home, and so I used some extended harmonies in the hopes of conveying this mixture of feelings. I did not want to use any overly dissonant or extreme harmonies as I also wanted to convey the sense of comfort that a person might have if present in the painting – I imagined travelling home and experiencing the sunset on a warm summer’s night, and the way this might make me feel.
I feel that although I used my reactions to the work as a basis for my composition, my piece presents itself as less of a reaction to the artwork, and more of an accompaniment – meant to extend the reach of the painting and enhance the experience when observing it. Having said this, I still hope that my piece can impart some of the emotions on the listener that I felt when working with Wilson’s painting.
Programme notes: Through my composition, I wanted to make the listener feel as if they had been transported to the location depicted in the painting. To achieve this, I travelled along the banks of the River Dee and conducted some recordings of the environment – which I then implemented into my composition. I used strings and woodwind to create the melody and harmony throughout my piece. I used these because I also wanted to convey a sense of warmth, as the painting depicts a hazy sunset in the countryside, as well as the sense of nostalgia imparted on me by the artwork.