Toward a Universal Music

A recent posting on the blog Music for Time’s Ending introduced the topic of musical notation, and included pages from John Cage’s book Notations.  It was an “eye opening” read. Cage collected examples of scores and musical sketches from numerous composers, and the range of expression and experimentation was visually astounding. For the first time, I saw composers thinking, and while I cannot read traditional western musical notation, I could feel some of their process and experimentation. The insights freed me to experiment and see music in a new way.  Notation is expression and translation. The composers, especially in gestural sketches, were recording their first impulses and visions for their music (for examples, click on Music for Time’s Ending in the blogroll to the right – post titled Notation).

TM8255 Toward a Universal Music 36×36 oil on panel

With that in mind, I started another large, experimental painting bringing together some of the gestures of music, notation, and the cosmos. Instead of looking to water droplets as a metaphor for notes, I used stars and the gravitational energy they encompass. The result is the painting Toward a Universal Music, depicted above. Details from the painting (below) show the symbolic notation, including comets, a galaxy, horizontal and vertical staffs, and bands of color (harmonically keyed to the spectrum).

TM8255 Detail 1, Toward a Universal Music

Detail of galaxy from lower right side of painting.

TM8255 detail 2, Toward a Universal Music

Detail from left of painting showing comets crossing the vertical staff and spectrum bands.

TM8255 detail 3, Toward a Universal Music

Detail of lower right, with dust and stars, comets, and pulse notation.

TM8255 detail 4, Toward a Universal Music

Detail from lower left of painting with staffs intersecting and comets arranging themselves to a rhythm.

I would like to thank Sang Woo Kang for his enlightening post Notation. In the collision of ideas, art thrives. 

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One thought on “Toward a Universal Music

  1. Excellent images. Quantum and astrophysics have found that by going in opposite directions you get to the same place- the very edges of the universe and the vibrations that are caused there when one touches the other. They are the sympathetic and discordant harmonies that make up existence.

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