Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Some of the works in this exhibition are based on the numerical sequencing used by some modern composers in which the twelve semitones of the diatonic scale are used to make up the chromatic scale (every note, white and black on the normal keyboard). If one ascribes a number to each semitone - C = 1; C# = 2; D = 3; D#=4 ... etc -and a "melody" is devised using all notes in the chromatic scale, a numerical sequence is made. Permutations of this sequence are developed in lines - so 6 becomes 11; 10 - 3; 5 - 8; 9 - 12; 8 - 2; 11 - 7; 1 - 6 etc. This process can be repeated, referring each sequence back to line 1. For instance in one of the works in the exhibition this sequencing was developed to 12 lines, and in the process certain vertical patterning happened - so the numbers 6, 11, 7, 1 repeat endlessly in the first vertical line, and recur in lines 6,7 and 11. The pattern in vertical line 2 also occurs in lines 3, 5, 8, 10. A mathematician would be able to explain why this happens - I just play with what presents itself to me. Depending on the actual original sequence the melody will almost always resolve itself to the chromatic scale. The number of lines this takes will be specific to each individual sequence. This is only one sort of twelve-tone invention, and serialism is much more complex than the simple patterning I've used to develop the work for this show. The Britannica Online Encyclopaedia has a very good article on Serialism if you want to know more. My interest lies in the making of visual patterns which may perhaps suggest some of the elements found in musical composition - not only melody, but also harmonies, weight and rhythmic structures. I have, right from the start of my making work, been interested in tonal progression within quite formalist structures. But the important thing for me is that the work be enjoyed on a purely visual level. The back structures are no more necessary to the viewer than knowledge of musical theory in listening to a piece of music - it can enrich, but on the other hand it can also impede. Barbara Halnan 2013

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