My approach to Tuning Score for the Nervous System involved seeking a balance between literal and interpretive readings of the score. Due to the visual symmetry of the piece, I chose to appropriate open intervals such as the perfect fourth, fifth, and octave as the piece’s principal harmonies.
I used an oscillating gesture throughout the piece to simulate the sheen of the copper and gold leaf in the painting, and I adopted a prevalent three-note motif directly from the first lines on the page. The flow and duration of the piece were determined by how long it took my eyes to scan each “tendril” of the central figure in the painting; as my eyes moved, my fingers emulated.
Only when once I felt I had thoroughly explored each bend and curl of the visual space did I cease the music. Beyond these cues, I took my own liberties and included figures and gestures not physically present in the score but which I felt were suggested by the piece’s overall aesthetic.
In beholding the piece and responding musically to it, I experienced a newfound awareness in the activity of looking at artwork. Time is required to fully take in a new piece of visual information; I enjoyed imbuing visual artwork with this temporal dimension, more commonly associated with music and the performing arts.
I greatly enjoyed the experience of musically pondering a piece of artwork, and I am delighted to share my rendering of the score – a rendering that is but one of an infinite array of possibilities.
Cellist Naomi Benecasa holds a Bachelor’s of Music Performance from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Besides performance, Naomi enjoys studying music through the lens of cognitive science and has participated in international research in music and metaphor studies. In August 2017 she will begin an online graduate degree in music psychology through the University of Sheffield in Sheffield, England. Currently she lives and works in Beacon, New York, as a gallery attendant at Dia:Beacon.
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