The first thing that struck me about ‘A Portrait of Bartolomeo Savona’ by André Derain was his use of colour. It stands out and contrasts the other paintings around it. I was immediately drawn to it.
Looking into the historical background of the piece, I was intrigued to find out that André Derain painted it in three 20-minute sittings, and gave it to Savona as a gift for acting as his translator while Derain was in London. Derain seems to have harboured great affection for Savona, and obviously considered him a close friend. When compared to an actual photograph of Savona, the painting is really quite difference, and as a result I think the painting more exemplifies Derain’s emotional connection to Savona, as opposed to acting as a physical snapshot of him.
With Henri Matisse, Derain was one of the forefathers of Fauvism, and this painting definitely exemplifies the ‘wild beast’ connotations which were associated with Fauvism. Like I said, it stands out; it’s brash, loud and unapologetic. I think this is really effective and it’s certainly a part of its appeal. Within my final composition I’ve explored lots of colourful sounds and sounds which move and sound exciting – there’s an example from the last section of my finished piece below!
Having now finished my composition, I can say that I have found the experience of writing a piece or programmatic music to be fulfilling and rewarding, and it’s definitely something which I feel I’ll want to undertake again in the future.
Following my time researching in the Barber Institute, I have gained a greater understanding of both the piece and the context in which it was painted. The transformation Trouville took between 1850 and 1870, due to the construction of railways as well as the publicity gained through writers and artists such as Monet and Boudin himself, is now something I want to focus on sonically.
I aim to create two contrasting worlds, one highlighting the natural beauty of the beach, the other focusing on the changing aesthetic of Trouville. These two worlds will be juxtaposed firstly through harsh jump cuts, and will eventually mould into one.
The lone fisherwoman is an important aspect of the piece. Boudin previously relied on figures to create movement and interest in his paintings, but here, combined with the vast sky, and the unusually large canvas, the lone fisherwoman reinforces the solitary nature of the coast. I have therefore been thinking about her journey and how I could represent that in my piece. I’ve decided to record a simple looping melody on the viol that will develop over time.
I have also been thinking about the overall aesthetic I would like to create. The following piece by Jónsi and Alex illustrates the use of subtly changing loops, something I would like to utilise in my piece, as well as an overall feeling of ebbing and flowing, an obvious property of the sea.
Primrose Hill – Winter.
Eye-catching, no? Sounding Images contributor Dicko seemed to think so, read his blog here.
I was instantly drawn to the paining’s shear size and abstract nature in its gallery context; the immediate neighbours are painted in a more classical style (find out more about one of the neighbours here)
During my research on this painting, I discovered that Auerbach painted Primrose Hill, the famous London park, at different times of day in different seasons. I have included some of the other painting’s as well as working sketches below.
In the first linked post above, the conflict between natural landscape and cityscape is discussed. With Primrose Hill being the primary subject of the works, the city is always in the background. This will carry over in my composition as my ‘city’ field recordings will be ever present in the background – listen to one those field recordings:
This recording has the sound of busy London, but also birds and trees too.
The winter edition is very dark and gloomy – research collected from the Barber Institute of Fine Arts suggest the painting indicates dawn, not dusk as commonly suggested. From top to bottom, the painting starts light with yellows and greens, perhaps the sun breaking through the cities skyline. As we head to the southern hemisphere of the painting it becomes denser and denser. This is consistent in the working sketches too, and with the use of panning, volume and working with space and perspective, I aim to recreate this effect in my composition.
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).