Salvador Dali: Musical Interpretation of his Paintings – video

This video offers an oral sensory interpretation of three of Dali’s painting. The interpretation may resonate to your own, or … ?! I find that the soothing tones makes me stay in front of the paintings, so what could be better than to appreciate art, in all its nature.

What the musician says:

“The crossover of different aspects of media is a frequent media within itself that we see frequently, sometimes without noticing it. My project was to create music to three paintings by Salvador Dali. Within my music, I tried to portray my initial feelings created when I first looked at the paintings.

Painting 1: “The persistence of memory” (1931). To me, this picture made me think of the aspect of time being twisted.

I recreated this feeling within my music by writing this section in 5 4. By adding the extra beat, this is an aspect of surprise to the listener. This contrast is created because the instrumentation of harp, strings, oboe and bass clarinet is quite Romantic and traditional. The harmonies within this piece are also quite traditional, apart from an augmented chord introduced. This technique, I find, also adds a twist to the traditional sound that this piece could have evoked. So, much like Dali’s paintings, this music has taken a traditional form and twisted it to create something new and unexpected.

Painting 2: “The Face of War”, immediately conjured up dissonant chords and echoing sounds of distant screams and hissing snakes, but I thought that would be too expected. As the picture has such a central image (unlike the previous, and, subsequently, the following one), I felt the music could illustrate the surrounding images as opposed to the central one. The surrounding image reminded me of Africa as the central image reminded me of an African mask, so I used a marimba to play my opening rhythm. This rhythm is, again, very sporadic in its timing and beats to illustrate the surrealist nature of Dali’s work. The main melody, played by a Cor Anglais, is playing music of a Middle Eastern nature because the other “surrounding” image is that of snakes; so I illuminated those creatures by portraying a snake charmer feel. The other two instruments, a harpsichord and a double bass, add to the vastness of painting.

Painting 3: an image of “The Church to me”, and … an image of support. Lots of things within the painting that are being supported. The architecture in the painting also reminded me a lot of traditional church designs. Within the music,

I did a very traditional organ piece, accompanied by strings. The central image, within the painting, is a woman holding out grapes. Again, this arouses up the image of help, support and friendship. The music to accompany the picture is very distant — as if it were coming from a distant church. From the perspective of the painting, “we” are far away from all the buildings, so I decided to make the music somewhat solemn, as if the support and help is fading away.

All these musical pieces can be looped if the images were displayed separately, but I don’t feel the music can work as a separate entity to the pictures, because the music is part of the emotions created by the pictures.”

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