Posts Tagged 'Music'

Our Harp’s Delight

July’s Meaningful Moments program was all about music as participants explored The Harp Lesson by Jean Antoine Théodore Giroust. While closely examining the 18th century French painting, participants shared their memories related to learning to play a musical instrument.

We were joined in the galleries by harpist Cindy Horstman, who shared her own experiences of learning the harp in college and becoming a professional musician. Cindy brought The Harp Lesson to life as she plucked away at her harp, filling the gallery with music.

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Cindy began by playing “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Johann Sebastian Bach, a piece of music that was popular during the time The Harp Lesson was painted. She also wowed us with a wide-ranging assortment of music including “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles and “Summertime” by George Gershwin, all played from memory!

At the end of the program, participants were already asking when Cindy could return again.

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Musical Musings

Think back to your favorite scene in a movie. Was it action packed? Romantic? Full of suspense? Chances are that the music—the film’s score—helped create the mood of the scene.

Now think about your favorite work of art. How would you describe its mood or feeling? How did the artist convey that mood? When we describe the mood of a work of art, we typically think about visual elements like color, the quality of the brushstrokes, and composition. But sometimes, even with a work of art, music can enhance your experience.

We recently paired up with two local musicians, Clint Niosi and Claire Hecko, and invited them to imagine one minute “film scores” for a handful of works of art in the 18th Century European Gallery. Meet the musicians, learn about their process, and hear a sample of their work below.

Tell us about yourselves-in 50 words or less.

Clint Niosi: I’m a songwriter, film score composer, and audio engineer from Fort Worth.  I also work as a Digital Technology Specialist for the Art + Art History Department at UT Arlington.

Claire Hecko: INFP, musician, composer, picture maker, seamstress, cat lover and motorcycle enthusiast, among other things. My primary instruments are viola and bass. I like long walks in the desert and good manners.

How would you describe your process of creating a “score” for a work of art?

Clint Niosi: While I wasn’t really sure how to approach it initially, I ended up using basically the same process I would have used for a film score. I try to find the emotional core of the scene and use the music to help move the story forward. Once I feel like I’ve found the mood I add or take away layers until it feels right with the picture.

Claire Hecko: I have very little education in music theory, so I’m not entirely sure how to best describe my process. I consider the feelings I want to embody in a piece and try to determine how to best represent them musically. Often, this entails picking up an instrument and just playing around on it until I come up with something that will serve as a foundation for the piece. From there, I begin adding layers to build a complete composition.

Were there any challenges?

Clint Niosi: Yes there were. Creating a modern composition outside the historical milieu in which the paintings are set seemed very daunting. Also, the limited duration of the format (one minute per piece) was an additional challenge. Some of the paintings have very complex stories and complicated emotions to convey. Ultimately I just dove in and had fun with it.  

Claire Hecko: My biggest challenge was creating the “score” for The Harp Lesson by Jean Antoine Theodore Giroust – I had many ideas, but no access to (or training to play) a harp. Thankfully, technology allowed me to replicate the sound of a harp on a laptop.

What did you enjoy most about this opportunity?

Clint Niosi: It was such a treat to have a chance to collaborate with the DMA. I’m an art enthusiast and a long time fan of the DMA’s permanent collection. The chance to dive into something like this is something I will always remember. It was a learning experience.

Claire Hecko: My degree is in Art History, a subject close to my heart. The opportunity to represent a work of art through music was very exciting for me!

Stop by the Pop-Up Art Spot this Saturday to check out an iPod and listen to the “film scores” composed and recorded by Clint Niosi and Claire Hecko.

Jessica Fuentes
Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections

Emily Wiskera
Manager of Access Programs

Everything Zen

Alternative rock band Weezer’s second album, Pinkerton, was released in 1996 to little fanfare. Panned by critics and lackluster sales, the sophomore entry was a far cry from the band’s multi-platinum debut, the self-titled Weezer with the hit single “Buddy Holly.”

Retrospectively, however, the album has become a cult classic and is regarded as one of the most significant albums of the 1990s. Exemplifying this polarity is the fact that Rolling Stone readers voted Pinkerton as the third worst album of the year in 1996, yet six years later in 2002 voted it the 16th greatest album of all time.

A modified image of a print from Ando Hiroshige’s Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō, a copy of which is in the DMA’s collection, was chosen for Pinkerton’s album cover. Kambara: Snow at Night depicts a snowy evening in Kambara village—an unlikely scenario, since Kambara was located in a temperate area.

Hiroshige’s romantic enhancement of reality for emotional effect makes the woodblock print a fine choice for Pinkerton, since it is such an expressive album. Angst-filled, youthful poets so often tend to exaggerate events for greater dramatic impact. Interestingly, examination of the resulting production style and various thematic elements in Pinkerton inextricably link it to Zen Buddhism and other aspects of Japanese culture.

Pinkerton features a very raw and abrasive sound in an effort to evoke a live performance. The recordings for Pinkerton were done in one take, meaning everything was recorded simultaneously with little to no overdubbing after the fact. For example, lead singer and principal composer Rivers Cuomo recorded the vocal tracks with his fellow band members in unison around three microphones close to one another. This recording method contrasts with the way vocals are usually recorded, in an isolated chamber after the instrumental tracks have been laid down. Instead, the band member’s vocal tracks bleed into one another much like the guitar, drum, and keyboard work do. Little if any editing was done to their singing or the instruments. The resulting quality of the album sounds extremely rugged and unrefined, which contributes to its liveliness and emotional intensity.

Rivers Cuomo spent his early years in upstate New York living at a Buddhist Zen Center. Eventually he would move to Yogaville, an enclave of the spiritual practice in Virginia, where he remained for the rest of his childhood. These experiences no doubt contributed to the direction of production for Pinkerton. The desire to create the audio effect of an energetic, live performance is reflective of the fluid, in-the-moment perspective treasured in Zen Buddhism for the creation of art.

Moreover, Zen artistic values that permeate into the culture of Japan to this day treasure simplicity and the rough. Indeed, Zen art seeks to inspire contemplation of human existence as something that is ephemeral, lonely and melancholic through its emphasis on imperfection.

In this way a crooked, shabby cup is perceived as more attractive than an immaculate, symmetrical, and fastidiously constructed bowl made of fine material. This perspective results from the fact that the malformed cup encourages reflection on the nature of reality instead of merely being aesthetically pleasant to look at, like the “perfect” bowl.

Due to Pinkerton’s initial poor sales and critical reception, Weezer nearly disbanded, going on hiatus for 5 years until 2001’s Weezer (Green Album). With this new release onward, the band has not recorded in the atypical fashion they had on Pinkerton, instead choosing production enhancements that resulted in greater polish and clearness. The Zen artistic values of spontaneous creation and greater emotional depth achieved through imperfection serve to illuminate the artistic brilliance and relevance the band was able to achieve at that moment.

Artworks shown:

  •  Ando Hiroshige, Kambara: Snow at Night, 1834, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Marcus.
  • Deep Bowl for Tea Ceremony (Mukozuke), Japan, A.D. 1568-1615, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard D. Haynes.

Devon Hersch
McDermott Intern for Asian Art

The Soundtrack to Vermeer Suite

Viols, virginals, flutes, and lutes! The small, masterful paintings in Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting, each featuring an individual playing or holding an instrument, indicate the popularity and prevalence of music—both as artistic subject matter and as activity—in the Netherlands during the 17th century.

Interestingly, the associations with music at the time ran the gamut from divine gift to causing irreparable moral damage. On one side of the spectrum, music was spiritual medicine, played solely to glorify God. On the other side, music making was perceived as a worldly pleasure and at odds with Protestant values, diverting one’s attention away from spiritual salvation. Somewhere in the middle of the spectrum, music playing and listening functioned as a polite form of entertainment for the elite upper classes. It was played in the household in the same way we might gather around and play charades or watch a football game today. Playing music was also a means for solidifying social and professional relationships, and it was a socially acceptable way for unmarried people to interact—to essentially be on a date without a chaperone. Beyond the household, elites could find a quasi-public outlet for practice and performance in a collegium musicum—a small group of amateur musicians that convened in one of its members’ homes or a location approved by the city council. Members of the lower classes could visit muziekherbergen (music inns), which made instruments available for patrons. At a music inn, a capable player who refused to perform was required to purchase a round of drinks for the whole tavern as penalty!

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With the artists’ careful attention to detail and intricate treatment of surfaces, the realistic paintings in Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting transport us to a lively Dutch street corner or an intimate living room gathering. While we can almost hear the music that likely accompanied these scenes, visitors to the exhibition do not have to imagine it. In the exhibition’s adjacent gallery, visitors can actually listen to the paintings’ soundtracks. Songs by Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck (1562-1621), one of the most prolific Dutch songwriters to achieve international renown, will be played continuously. A professional organist who served the Oude Kerk (Old Church) in Amsterdam for forty-four years, Sweelinck was one of the first major composers of keyboard music in Europe.

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Additionally, a sound bar in this interactive gallery offers visitors the opportunity to listen to the distinct sound of each of the instruments depicted in the paintings and learn about how they were played. Visit the DMA through August 21 to enjoy the visual and aural experience of Vermeer Suite: Music in 17th-Century Dutch Painting, which is included in the Museum’s daily free general admission.

Andrea Severin Goins is the Interpretation Manager at the DMA.

Images: Jacob Adriaensz Ochtervelt, A Singing Violinist, c. 1666–70, oil on panel, © The Leiden Collection, New York; Gerard ter Borch, A Musical Company, c. 1642–44, oil on panel, © The Leiden Collection, New York; Lutes, Michael Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum, 1619. Syntagma Musicum is a three-volume treatise written by the German musicologist Michael Praetorius between 1614 and 1620; Jan Steen, Self-Portrait with a Lute, n.d., oil on canvas, © The Leiden Collection, New York

A Bright Evening Indeed

Teens, adults, hipsters, parents, and those strolling the halls of the DMA were treated to a wonderful evening of spoken word, music, and light last Thursday, when Denton-based collective  Spiderweb Salon hosted a poetry showcase with fifteen readers and musicians. The artists included participants from the Center for Creative Connection’s adult programs and Urban Armor teen programs mixed with well-known poets and musicians from the Denton area who are currently part of the Spiderweb Salon.

Inspired by the DMA’s exhibition Nur: Light in Art and Science in the Islamic WorldSpiderweb Salon called the event A Bright Evening and the musicians and writers used light as the basis of their compositions.  The showcase was hosted by poet and Spiderweb Salon co-founder Courtney Marie. Below are some highlights from the evening:

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Listen to one of the musical performances:

We were pleased to feature the following poets and musicians performing at A Bright Evening:

Bess Whitby

Evan Simmons

Chris Garver

Chris George

Ann Marie Newman

Ryan Creery

Monique Johnson

Nate Logan

Ennis Howard

Conor Wallace

Frank Polgar

Erica GDLR

Jordan Batson

Kiki Ishihara

Carson Bolding

Make sure to follow Spiderweb Salon on Facebook and stay connected to what is happening in the Center for Creative Connections!

Amanda Batson
Program Coordinator for the Center for Creative Connections

 

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record

The tragedy surrounding President John F. Kennedy’s 1963 trip to Texas inspired many songwriters to remember and honor JFK through song. Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record is an audio-video installation produced by Alan Govenar featuring songs of a variety of genres produced in the months after Kennedy’s assassination. Swing by the C3 Theater during the run of Hotel Texas: An Art Exhibition for the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy to experience these songs.*

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record, Alan Govenar, © Alan Govenar

Listening Hard: Remembering JFK on Record, Alan Govenar, © Alan Govenar

Uncrated chatted with Alan, founder and president of Documentary Arts and the installation’s producer, to pick his brain about his creative process and vision for this work. Join us at the DMA during our July Late Night on Friday, July 19, at 7:00 p.m. to hear Alan discuss his installation.

When did you begin researching JFK memorial songs?
It was 1975, so nearly forty years ago. I had heard about the Mexican-American corridos and started gathering the records when I could find them. I had written a lot about blues and jazz, and this was part of it.

What was the impetus for this project?
The piece was originally commissioned by the International Center of Photography. Brian Wallis, Chief Curator at the ICP, has organized a show of photographs, JFK November 22, 1963: A Bystander’s View of History,  that look at the assassination from the viewpoint of bystanders.

All of the singers are in a way personalizing their relationship with President Kennedy, either as friend or savior, champion of the downtrodden, the advocate for the forgotten or the disenfranchised. The songs juxtapose that sense of feeling a personal relationship with the president and the great sense of loss, the tragedy of his killing.

You’ve referred to this installation as an “experience.” How do you envision DMA visitors experiencing this installation?
All of the songs are topical. All were released on record. Most were written within days of the assassination. The installation is an audio loop, and the anchor, or punctuation point, is an eyewitness account released on an LP within days of the assassination. A man just saw the assassination, and someone put a microphone in his face and asked him what he saw. He was panicked, on the verge of crying. He had his five year old standing next to him. He was ready to pounce on top of him to protect him because he thought there was a maniac on the loose. That sets a certain stage for the rest of the piece, which is startling and haunting. But, there’s an aspect of the songs that has you smiling. It throws you back in time and place. Much of what the piece is about is perception and memory.

What was your creative process behind the image of JFK that continuously dissolves into images of record labels?
It has a meditative kind of effect, seeing that image reappearing. In some senses, I intended it to be reassuring, comforting, but also, it’s a memorial. It’s like looking at a tombstone. Those slow dissolves into the record labels that go in and out of JFK’s face are haunting, I think because of the idea that he was shot. It’s a complex, emotive kind of experience.

What was the most surprising thing you discovered?
The most surprising part of my research was the sheer vastness of songs written about John F. Kennedy in so many musical genres. People felt compelled to write them. People felt like their feelings needed to be expressed. A song in the installation called The Tragedy of Kennedy, by the Southern Belle singers recorded in December 1963, ends with:

Let me tell you people what we better do,
Keep our minds on Jesus for he’s a President, too.

It identifies Kennedy in that role, as a great savior who was martyred.

Why do you think Kennedy was memorialized through such diverse musical genres?
Corridos extol the virtues of the president who excited our passion to bring equality to all. The blues singers could identify with the sadness everyone was feeling. Country songs are often about mortality. It fit neatly into traditional music forms, where the way people were feeling could be expressed.

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* “Listening Hard” runs in the C3 Theater at designated times during Museum hours and is included in free general admission.

Andrea Vargas Severin is the Interpretation Specialist at the DMA.

Fa La La La La Your Way to the DMA

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Grab a cup of hot cocoa, put on your Santa hat, and get ready for an artsy holiday music quiz! Look at the above images of artworks in our collection and try to match them with the holiday song lyrics below.

  1. Go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere.
  2. I saw three ships come sailing in, on Christmas Day in the morning.
  3. Oh the weather outside is frightful, but the fire is so delightful. And since we’ve no place to go…let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
  4. Silver bells, silver bells, it’s Christmas time in the city. Ring-a-ling, here them ring, soon it will be Christmas Day.
  5. You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why—Santa Claus is coming to town.
  6. Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.

Scroll to the end of the post for the answers!

See how you did on our Jingle-Meter:

4-6 correct: Ho, ho, hold onto your elf hats! You’re at the top of Santa’s list as a holiday music expert. Now go out and get your jingle on.

2-3 correct: Keep calm and merry on. You’re a little rusty on your melodies, but with a bit more caroling, you’ll be fa-la-la-la-la-ing with the season’s best.

0-1 correct: Bah humbug! Your inner Scrooge is getting the best of you. We recommend a prescription of candy canes and cocoa.

Artworks shown:

  • Raymond Jonson, Composition 7-Snow, 1928, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collection, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Duncan E. Boeckman
  • Gerald Murphy, Watch, 1925, Dallas Museum of Art, Foundation for the Arts Collections, gift of the artist
  • Claude Monet, Valle Buona, Near Bordighera, 1884, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the Meadows Foundation Incorporated
  • Thomas Chambers, Eastport, and Passamaquoddy Bay (View of Hudson Valley), 1840-1860, Dallas Museum of Art, The Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee Collection, gift of Faith P. Bybee
  • Paola de Matteis, The Adoration of the Shepherds, 1680-1728, Dallas Museum of Art, The Karl and Esther Hoblitzelle Collection, gift of the Hoblitzelle Foundation
  • William Bogert & Co. (manufacturer), Dinner bell, c. 1866-1875, Dallas Museum of art, The Charles R. Masling and John E. Furen Collection, gift of John E. Furen in memory of Charles R. Masling

Answers (clockwise from top left): 3, 5, 1, 4, 6, 2

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning


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