Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Inside the Collection: The Art of Music

This collection, another superb one from Carol Grafton, was for me 'just for looking'— the luxury of looking. I'm sure that all the crafters out there can think of a 101 projects to do using these images, but what I liked to do was just peruse the images and ruminate. In this case, to quietly look at images of music being played—without the hearing of the music; it's like watching television with the sound off. I enjoyed the disparity between the dominant theme of the visuals (sound, music, noise) and the experience of consuming the images in silence....for a while, anyway. Eventually it began to drive me a crazy— I started to obsess about what music might be being played. Some of it was easy to imagine, in other paintings I didn't have a clue. Take for example these three paintings from the Art of Music (nos. 010, 025, 030). The women are playing a Virginal, and it's the 17th century. I have just a vague notion of Dutch music of that period, and my imagination tells me that a Virginal is probably similar to a harpsichord or clavichord.

I did a little poking around on the web, and found a few samples of Dutch Virginal music from the time of Vermeer. Check out the samples if you'd like to hear what it may have sounded like—or don't; leave the mystery intact.

This turned into a pretty good game for viewing the collection. Sometimes it's a little hard to find just an audio file—without distracting videos attached. Here's a few more samples that I was able to dig up:

In these two paintings it's the Lute. I had a little bit better idea with that, but 16th-17th century? Hmm.

Here's a link to what they all must have been playing. Sample 3

A favorite painting, by a favorite painter: Manet's The Fifer. (The model for this painting may actually have been Manet's female acquaintance Victorine Meurent -just FYI).

Here's a good example of distracting video (the drama!), but it's genuine French martial fife music. Sample 4

And finally, a little Americana—although with Cassatt you really cannot say if it's America, because she painted so long in Europe.

My best guess as to the audio? Sample 5

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