Art & Music Workshop at BrynMorris May 14th 2011

It was a marvellous day: Seimon Morris played various chords and sequences which we listened to carefully, and then visualised in colour the character and intervals in each one; this included the unresolved dominant 7th at the end of Messiaen’s L’Ascension. (During this some swallows were chirping in the barn – wouldn’t Messiaen have loved that!)

12 versions of Tallis’ ordinal were played in different keys, and everyone wrote down what they thought was the character of each, having briefly discussed aspects of tonality, and then did a coloured image of their reaction to one of them; some amazing similarities here.

We visualised a journey through Bach’s strictly tonal 1st 2 part Invention, then listened to Birtwistle’s Imaginary Landscape and each did paintings which expressed their understanding of this very different journey. My friend the composer Erika Fox was here, she knows Birtwistle and loves his work, and gave us some salient insights into the music. Even people who never usually listen to contemporary music made a great effort to engage with it. Jim included the call of the cuckoo in one of his pictures.
We ended up with a home made version of Ligeti’s Poème Symphonique using some metronomes and various clocks, all ticking slightly at odds with each other.

I am very much hoping to do this again, and especially with children: there are still a lot of things we didn’t have time for – a 19th century Credo where the words are intoned on one note while a succession of chords play around it. (Seimon had suggested that this was like a single transparent colour moving against a changing landscape of other colours.) Also the contrasts in Vivaldi’s Concerto for Piccolo and basso continuo, Fratres by Arvo Pärt, and perhaps one of Schenker’s Graphic Analyses.

People really enjoyed the day, and came up with an amazing variety of individual responses.

Jim wrote:

From Bach to Birtwistle

“From fixed view, or familiar- to unexpected surprise
From sleep or habit
– to awake.
From sitting in one place
– to moving around.
Fragments – unrelated to each other
– seemingly.
Details, parts, seen on a background
–  yet not seen as a whole.”

Thanks, Elizabeth-  A brilliant day

Erika said
“I found it wonderfully liberating to try and express something in a (for me) new medium. I feel I have learnt something about spacing, colour and texture. Doing is not at all the same as observing. A cliché, but one needs reminding.”

Catherine
Such fun! Really interesting exercises. It makes you think again about art and music, and puts the fun back into it. I would love part 2!

More workshops at BrynMorris are coming.