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‘Eye-Music’ | Janet Boulton

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Eye Music Series book cover link
                                                Early Music 1, 74 x 80 cm
                                                              Study 1: Blue, 28 x 28 cm
                                                           Study 2: Blue, 28 x 28 cm
                                                               Jam Jars in a Window: Pink & Turquoise, 82 x 77 cm
                                                               Jam Jars in a Window: Grey & Black, 79 x 75 cm
                                                                                                     Red Missale 1500, 108 x 38 cm

Janet Boulton’s ‘Eye-Music’ series of watercolour/collage and paperpulp reliefs are inspired by the idea of graphic musical notation. She has combined observations of a still life installed in a window (comprising five plate glass shelves and rows of jam jars) with the forms of musical notation used in early medieval plain chant. In a process of deconstruction and re-invention, with music strongly in mind, she has made images which are intended to be seen independently as well as being a source of musical inspiration. Although there are no specifications for instrument/s or interpretation she became increasingly conscious whilst making the pictures of the spacial and tonal potential of sound.

 

Quotes from Introduction to forthcoming publication:

 

Janet Boulton refers to her collection as ‘Eye-Music’, but it is important to recognise that she is using the term in a special way. Technically speaking ‘Augenmusic’ (eye music) is the “practice of utilising graphics to embellish staff notation, with a largely graphic or typographic function, in order to reinforce the affective meaning of the music”. Janet, on the other hand, is using the term to describe the visual impact of the works and the significance of their autonomy.

 

I first met Janet Boulton at a Sound UK Event in October 2013 in Oxford. I was there to give a pre-concert talk on the history of graphic scores, a term used to describe the explosion in musical notation practice that occurred in the 20th century. From the start graphic scores have been regarded as a fringe practice, in contrast to the five-line staff notation, which has been the lingua franca of musical notation, especially in the Western world, for centuries. This system places the performer in the role of the interpreter, with the composer being entirely responsible for the creation of the musical content. In the 1950’s, composers (John Cage, Earle Brown, Karlheinz Stockhausen) began to explore creating new notation systems and graphics, which questioned this hierarchy and gave the performer responsibility for the generation of the musical content in the performance as well as the interpretation.

 

Here it is important to distinguish between ‘notation’ and graphics, because “graphic scores” is technically an umbrella term, within which there are two sub-categories; graphic notation and musical graphics.

 

Joe Scarffe, Watercolour & Collage, Paper Pulp Relief Works, 2014 (in press)