In 2014, I started a creative exploration of music, hoping to find hidden patterns and clues about how music ignites our passion. I translated music into visual images to see the underlying structure that is built from pitch, rhythm and voicing.
In 2018, I started writing music derived from specific works of art, choosing a physical aspect of the art as a point of departure for the music. It is only by comparing the properties of music and visual art side-by-side (also thinking about DNA packaging and protein folding) that I have come to appreciate the complexity of sculpting art, both visual and sonic, to tell a moving tale.
Irish visual artist, Jennie Grangel, created this digital image as part of the Sonic Notation project. I felt a sense of physical space, as though I were looking down through the layers in the image. I selected 6 of them and named them for what they reminded me of: fish school, batwing, beam, stairs, arc, and the road. In keeping with Jennie's digital theme, I wrote the music with electronic sounds.
Irish painter, Vicki O'Donoghue, painted this image, Orchestral Manoeuvre in Pink, as part of our Sonic Notation project. I echoed her layers of colour with layers of flute and piano, and turned her visual motifs into sound motifs.
Visual artist, Aishath Huda, from Maldives, invited me to create music for this collage, Contained, that she made for an exhibition in the Santa Rosa Monastery in Sardinia in 2018. For the music, Mesh, I chose as a motif the pieces of mesh Huda had applied to the paper during her painting process. On a grand staff I drew crisscrossing lines to emulate mesh and placed notes where the mesh lines crossed the staff lines. I kept the unconventional melodic and rhythmic structure in the spirit of the art work.
Canadian photographer, Karen Bhatt, took this photo while flying over the Rocky Mountains on her way to a new life. She invited me to write music for it. What's majestic about mountains, I mused, is their height and their dramatic birth. I took myself back to primordial Earth to sound-paint a moment in the formation of the Rockies.
Italian artist, Ivana Pinna, invited me to write a musical interpretation of her installation, Nagreta Noten, which went on to win 2nd place in the VERNICE ART PRIZE in March, 2018. Ivana lay a canvas painted with staff lines on the ground where a beloved pet used to lie and left it there for a year. Vines grew and snow fell and Ivana took a photo for each season. The music is based on her autumn photo. I was going for the feeling of kicking leaves on a sunny autumn day, so I wrote it for oboe and cello.
Mario Rodriguez, based in Barcelona, invited me to write music for his light sculpture, A Path Through the Hills of Light. I wanted to capture the dreamy, ethereal sense of the sculpture, so I wrote it for flute, tubular bells and keyboard synthesizer. The melody was derived from the shape of Mario's design.