What would music look like if transposed into a visual image?
What colour would rhythm or melody take?
These are not questions that we have ever asked ourselves but they are definitely ones to consider. And composer Lee Westwood and geometer Sama Mara have explored these in a collaboration called ‘A Hidden Order‘.
Borrowing from geometric art that has Islamic influences, fractal geometry and non-periodic tilings (we don’t claim to understand most of this), Westwood and Mara have created a system where contemporary classical music can be translated into patterns and vice versa, with the results as follows.
The compositions of Westwood and the images generated by Mara were recently on display at the Princes School of Traditional Arts Gallery and we were lucky enough to attend one of their performances where a special quartet performed key pieces from the project. Against the backdrop of a large screen and instruments that included a flute, cor anglais, cello and a marimba, this talented group held a small audience enthralled for forty-five minutes of putting an image to sound.
Certain compositional criteria had to be set in place by this duo when they were creating both the music and the art for this project. And these have resulted in unique musical structures and images that raise the question – in cases like these do you remain true to the rules of music to create a melodic phrase, or do aesthetics win in the end?
An interesting question and a dilemma skillfully raised, this collaboration has resulted in music and art which if either of them stay true to their preordained constructs, they inadvertently force the other to yield to the weird and the wonderful.