‘The End of the World’
The Theremin was one of the first electronic musical instruments. It was invented by a Russian, Leon Theremin, in 1919. It is played without touching it and the pitch of the sound is varied by moving the hand closer to or further away from the antenna.
We built this simple one from a kit from America and made our own case for it. It has been used in Sci-fi films, pop music and as a serious concert instrument.
The music file above is an interpretation of the collage using a loop created by passing the title text through Kahn and Kegler’s P22 text/sound generator programme as a randomised starting point. This was then added to with virtual and real synthesisers and the Theremin.
We became interested in creating visual images that represent sounds.
In recent years musicians have used ‘Graphic Notation’ to write down music. With this approach the traditional Western Musical Notation using staves, etc. is discarded in favour of a more pictorial way of describing what the musicians will play, using symbols, signs and illustrations. Often the musicians are required to interpret Graphic Notation to a very large degree. Composers such as John Cage, Stockhausen and Brian Eno have used Graphic Notation to score music.
Much of our work is about the way emotions, feelings and other, non-tangible, things are expressed in visual forms. Different colours affect us in different ways. Lines, shapes and compositions have different effects on our emotional consciousness. How do we translate sounds, feelings and abstract ideas into visual terms?
Our picture, ‘The End of the World’ (Alfred our son did the original drawing going to school one day), is a kind of map with areas indicating short sounds, long sounds, colours and shapes showing intensity of activity and emotion which might correspond to sound pitch, rhythm, etc.
Children easily and intuitively use visual media to express emotions and feelings and instinctively use appropriate colours and shapes to help convey these things.