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  Art and Music  MartinY at 12:14 on 27 September 2011

I was interested by Christian Morris' blog on Modern Art and Modern Music. I was trying to think of the Art / Music connection in the past and immediately thought of the Mussorgsky Pictures. C seems to have inspired quite a bit of art influenced music as in the Rachmaninov Tone Poem and Reger's Four Tone Poems after Boecklin and apparantly another Isle of the Dead by Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen, which I have never heard. It is to be noted that Boecklin was not approved of by serious art critics but seems to have had great influence on musicians.

I seem to remember other composers who wrote art pieces were Resphighi and Martinu.

However how is music to be used in galleries, as background music? I raised the question before about what the ideal contempory background music ought to be like and not surprisingly the whole idea of serious background music was brought into question, though composers have been doing this for films for a 100 years now! I know Milton Babbitt's electronic music was used as background music to the great puzzlement of the punters but maybe there is an advantage in using pure electronic music. It does not generate any mental images of players from the sound.

When I visit galleries I have been attempting to write pieces afterwards. This worked fine with Jaume Plensa but I do not know what to think about the John Martin exibition! Though John Martin's popularity with the non-serious art consumer might seem similar to Boecklin. We seem to have got a long way from contemporary here though looking at John Martin is what many people are doing today at the exhibition in London so it is contemporary.

Of course where art and music really do get together is opera, provided the production is not set on a bare stage with views of the fire equipment and everybody in Nazi uniforms! Interestingly the art and education establishment's obsession with the 2nd World War has gone so far that one 16 year old asked we know an awful lot about the 2nd World War, was there a 1st World War and what was it about......... I much prefer reading about The Potato War.


Somehow my comments about The Isle of the Dead in the 2nd sentence seem to have got mangled... Sorry.

  Re: Art and Music  vyvyanhs at 14:47 on 27 September 2011

Interesting post. I do a bit of painting alongside my musical endeavours, I did once try an electronic soundscape piece to set a mood for a group of pictures, the problem is one art form has to take second place to the other, you have to decide which it is at the outset. I've enjoyed concerts with include films or images to distract the eye rather than just staring at the dandruff on the viola players collar, but that's all it is - something to occupy the redundant senses.

I'd suggest film music is slightly different since both 'works' share the time dimension, which is absent when looking at paintings.

Then there's opera. Unfortunately.

  Re: Art and Music  MartinY at 09:42 on 06 October 2011

To come back to the Isle of the Dead.. Look at the Wikipedia Entry for Boecklin:

You will see: Clement Greenberg wrote in 1947 that Böcklin's work "is one of the most consummate expressions of all that was now disliked about the latter half of the nineteenth century.". Reading this I thought it would be great to write a piece whose sole reason for existence is to piss off modernist music critics! Then I realised that John Adams and David del Tredici have probably already done that. Though it would be nice to be able to write such a piece which was not neo-this-or-that or minimalist but somehow achieved that goal through sheer originality.

What has happened to David del Tredici's music. I have not heard anything on BBC Radio 3 for years and the various composers hailed as the saviours of contemporary music seem to have disappeared in 2011, and I certainly have not played anything by a saviour of contemporary music this year. Also apart from world music and Vicentino ( I have not heard any microtonal music broadcast on the radio. I must get the CD of Vincentino though, if only to hear the 35 note scale accurately sung.