Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08
Mentor: Kimble Humiston
Title: The Illumination of Music
A combination between music composition and art. I composed a three movement musical composition for cello and other instruments, depicting advancements through musical history. I then represented each of the three movements with linoleum/woodcuts of trees. In my project, it is implied that with musical advancements in history comes enlightenment. I chose to make an installation piece in order to put the viewer in an environment which they could experience the enlightenment themselves.
My first movement was a Baroque Fugue in A minor originally composed for two cellos but performed with cello and violin. The second was a Romantic Period Lieder in D major composed for cello and piano, and the third was a disharmonious modern piece, composed for cello and piano.
I represented each of the three movements with linoleum or woodcuts of trees. I printed the trees a total of 42 times which included 36 on mylar sheets, 3 on plexi-glass, and 3 on paper. I also assembled an installation exhibition. I named the the exhibition the Forest of Illumination with the accompaniment of musical compositions from through the Baroque, Romantic, and Modern periods in Western music. The theme of illumination was particularly appropriate because the composers became more and more enlightened by finding new ways of expressing themselves in a freer manner with each successive period.
The three trees represented each movement. The first was black and symmetrical to show the rigidity of the rules of composition during the Baroque era. The second tree is printed in color and has a contorted trunk to portray the dissonances. Starting from the bottom, it is obvious that the tree has gone through pains, but the line ends at the leaves, which are very vibrant and colorful. This is to show how something so pained can also be beautiful. The third tree was intended to have an abstract quality. It seems to have been carved out of white sheets, and is printed in white. This would normally not be possible due to how woodcuts are printed on paper. Printing it on mylar sheets made it possible. The tree is suffering from the wind, illustrating the theme of my third movement; a storm.
I experienced many hardships through the process of making the final product, including composerŐs block, technical issues, and printing issues. At times I felt uninspired and found it difficult to compose something original. My music writing software refused to open a week before my concert, and I had to re-image my computer in order to print my partitions. The artistic aspect proved to be the most problematic. While printing, the size of the linoleum/woodcuts made it difficult to ink the whole block in time for every side to remain wet. The exhibition was also a strenuous and frustrating task. Although I had done much preliminary planning, it took seven hours to hang everything. This was much longer than I had anticipated. Three days before the exhibition, the paint on my mylar prints started chipping. I was very distressed, but I sprayed enamel on the chipped parts which eliminated further chipping.
I learned that I am capable of finishing a task of high complexity. I will certainly apply what I have learned from this process in my college studies, and feel more confident when approached by a daunting task. I learned what it is to actually work towards a product. One has to be persistent, and adapt to the new challenges that present themselves while maintaining focus. I am very grateful I was given the opportunity to accomplish my senior project.
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy. 1308-1321. Trans. John Sinclair. New York: New American Library, 1970.
Dore, Gustav. Illustrations for the Divine Comedy (1321). New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1976.
Hubert, Daniel. Technological and engineering consultant. Dec. 2007.
Jelen, Nicolette. Art consultations. May-Dec. 2007.
Liszt, Franz. Dante Sonata for Piano. Deutche Grammophon. Lazar Berman, pianist, 1972.
Saint-Gil, Audrey. Private composition lessons. New York City, May-Dec. 2007.
Community Member (Details)
Dan Welden. Interview. Sag Harbor, New York. November 16, 2007.