Musikstadt Linz--Musikland oberösterreich

im Rahmen des Internationalen Brucknerfestes Linz 1990
19. -23, September 1990


LINZ 1993

The Systematic Translation of Anton Bruckner's Eighth Symphony into a Series of Thirteen Paintings

by Jack Ox


Since 1976 my paintings have been formulated through a set of visual equivalents employed effectively to "translate" a composition written in the aural "language" of music into a visual "language". The musical vocabulary used by the composer is put into a new vocabulary, one that uses visual images instead of sounds. However, the original structure of the piece is retained along with the meaning. Not only do I, as a painter, function in a way similar to an orchestra conductor, but I am also the creator of the visual language. My activity could be described as a re-orchestration, followed by a visual performance. The actual act of painting produces a work which expresses feeling-- mine and the composer's --but is structured by a mathematical system.

I should explain, perhaps, what I do and do not mean by "translation". I do not listen to the music and "paint my feelings". I work from the score, making a traditional musicological analysis. I give systematic consideration to the composition's thematic, melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, and dynamic elements. During this period of immersion and analysis I listen carefully to various performances of the music, noting the interpretations of different conductors. This analysis is what I translate into painting. I do not paint music; I paint a composition which was written in the language of music. That is an important distinction to make. My paintings are basically re-orchestrated versions of the original composition-- re-orchestrated, that is, for the eyes.

The first drawing make is called the "orchestration sketch". Rather than appoint different instruments to different lines, I assign them to different images and locations within the picture. This drawing, and all the others produced before the painting is painted, are my working scores. The finished painting is a visual performance. In effect, I play the part of conductor; I thereby make decisions based on my interpretation of the score.

For the last nine years I have been working solely with Anton Bruckner's Eighth Symphony (WAB 108). When the series based on this symphony is complete it will consist of thirteen paintings, including all of the Symphony's themes plus the last thirteen measures (in which many themes from all four movements are layered). The system I've employed is flexible, open to growth and change. The earlier paintings are less complicated than the later ones. The entire series of paintings represents a journey of unfolding ideas as the various themes develop out of one another and reappear in later movements.

These thematic ideas are combined with a similar development of architectural motives taken from St. Florian's Monastery and romantic landscapes based on Alpine views. I have chosen these two basic visual elements in order to express what I believe are the are the two basic stylistic elements in Bruckner's music. The architectural images from St. Florian's represent Bruckner's frequent use of Baroque counterpoint. Of course, views of St. Florian's are also appropriated here because of the composer's close relationship with the monastery in life and in death. The Alpine landscapes embody the chromaticism in Bruckner's harmony and also the romanticism of his overall musical style.

I paint these images onto fiberglass strips which are cut into widths determined by time values (durations) of notes. These strips are arranged on the wall, shifted up and down according to the rising and falling of melodic lines. When the strips are returned to their original rectangular formation, the painted images, now fractured, visually portray the various melodies. Often there will be a collaging together of two or more images.

Harmonic movement and qualities are portrayed through a mathematically determined glazing system. I have superimposed a circle of fifth intervals over a twelve-step color wheel. As Bruckner modulated through keys on the circle, I modulate through colors. The relative dissonance of each orchestral chord manifests itself with an appropriate percentage of complementary color layered in, making the original color greyer. Therefore, if a chord is very consonant -- in a "romantic" sensibility, that is -- then it will be a pure hue from the color wheel. If, however, it is a dissonant as it can be within the same sensibility, then it will be 50% the color from the wheel and 50% its complement. As the relative dissonance decreased, so does the percentage of complementary color (40%, 30%, 20%, 10%). The value (relative lightness or darkness) of the glaze is also controlled mathematically in order to portray rising and falling pitch and dynamic levels.

Movement I

The first movement occurs outside the wall of the monasteries west wing and the collegiate church. All of the themes closely relate to each other, the second and third both coming out of the first theme. Therefore, as the first theme uses the lower part of the church -- including a quickly diminishing monastery wall, due to the angle of perspective -- the second theme uses the top portion of the church, and the third theme focuses on the wall, most especially on the portal, orginally sculpted by Leonhard Sattler.

Painting 1

In the first painting from the first movement the theme is portrayed by the architecture. It is an inner image, illusionistically appearing as overlaid or sitting in front of the landscape. St. Florian's is not fractured until the 18th measure, after which it takes over the entire strip. One can read the melody from the bottom and top lines of the architectural pictures. The tremolo in the strings, against which the theme is played, is imaged by an alternation between two different alpine pictures, two inches of one followed by two inches of the other. The glaze values (light/dark/light/dark) change every inch, or twice the speed of the two alpine images. This flickering, or visual tremolo, continues up to each of the short sections wherein one Alpine image is fractured to the clarinet/oboe melodic fragments. This single Alpine image also alternates between the two Alpine pictures. In the eighteenth measure, where St. Florian's occupies the entire strip, the image is fractured according to a typical Brucknerian two beat/three beat motive.

Dynamic changes are shown by giving over an ever increasing area of the module given to the St. Florian's image and by naturally increasing, then decreasing, scale according due to the perspective used in the initial drawing. These changes are reinforced with ever increasing intensities in the glazes.

The opening glaze is orange, due to the F pedal tone which eventually appears to be a dominant of Bb minor. The colors pass through yellow on the way back to orange as Bruckner modulates to B major, briefly landing on C minor. (Bb minor is the same color as B major because I have placed the minor color wheel three steps behind the major wheel.) As the music passes through the region E major, the painting takes on a red/orange hue. Borrowed chords and pivot chords beginning in the sixteenth measure sprinkle the painting with purples from G major, yellows from C minor, and blues from B minor, although one does not see this clearly because the colors are greyed out considerably by the dissonances of the chords. Until the 4th measure the colors are relatively pure, as the chords are basically consonant. By measure eighteen the painting is C minor yellow, with a very short yellow/orange moment of F minor, finishing the first theme back on yellow.

Painting 2

The visual form of the second painting from the first movement can be described as "equal plane/independent motion". This means that there is no overlapping of image areas, and that each zone has its own fracturing pattern. The image of the church tower is vertical. Therefore the two pages of musical score were not placed side by side but rather one on top of the other, so that the top of the tower occupies the first half of the painting and the bottom occupies the second half.

The basic theme in the first violins is portrayed by the architecture. Glazing values move according to the second violins. When the theme is picked up by the winds the Alps also pick it up. This is expressed by a linear glaze, interrupting what otherwise is a purely harmonic glaze. Whereas a linear glaze becomes lighter and darker in imitation of a melody line, a harmonic glaze remains a steady, light, unchangeable value, with only its hue moving to harmonic orders or its relative greyness reflecting changing harmonic qualities. In the 13th measure of the painting the inverted thematic material in the cello and double-bass lines is given to St. Florian imagery, with the Alpine image embodying the 7th and 8th horns. The horns also determine the meeting point between two image zones. The linear glaze follows horns 5 and 6 until the 19th measure where it becomes harmonic, afterwards ending on a linear glaze again for horns 1 and 2. The Alps remain with horns 7 and 8, relating also to bassoons 1 and 2 until they end in the 19th measure, replaced by a solid rest color. The violins continue to determine the boundary line until its end, and St. Florian's fractures to the cello and double-bass line through the end of the painting, or measure 72, for a total of 22 measures.

Because the second theme starts on piano, it begins in the clouds above and around the church towers. The image moves into the architecture itself as it gets louder. This is a different way of dealing visually with increasing loudness than that developed in later paintings. In the later works the approach has depended on a mathematically controlled change of scale. The earlier Bruckner paintings, after all, did not have a fully developed system; such a system has evolved over the none years of working on the Symphony.

The second theme begins and ends in G major, or purple. In between these two points, however, there is a large amount of chromatic activity. It is as if we are being prepared for the alternating diatonic and chromatic scales which move by step around the whole color wheel in the third theme. But, in the second theme, the painting moves quickly from purple to yellow-green, to green, to orange, to blue, to purple, to blue, to green, to yellow, to red, to blue-green, to green, to violet, with just a spot of very grey green, and then ends on purple. The glazes are not as vivid as it may sound, as many of these places are the result of borrowed chords, diminished 7 chords, or even a German sixth. In other words, there are a lot of 50%, 40% and 30% complementary color inclusions.

Painting 3

The third theme used both "image overlay" and "equal plane/independent action". During the first six measures of the painting the oboes, followed by the flute line, are inner images, thereby effecting a visual overlay. A strong counterpoint dominates the first four measures. I have achieved this visually by giving the theme in the clarinets to St. Florian's architecture, while the counterpoint to this theme, in the oboes and flutes, are embodied by the landscape image. Also reflecting the idea of opposition is that the architectural image is fractured but the Alpine image is not. One reads the melody of the Alps only through the placement of the landscape modules moving within the vertical format of the whole painting.

The first eight measures are glazed by chords, reflecting the tubas and of course all harmonic movements and qualities. Dynamics in the glaze lines are raised by increasing all value numbers in mathematical percentages.

The dynamic relationship between the flute/oboe line and the clarinets is expressed through different percentages of the 47 inch (119)cm) strip given to each line. Even though both themes start piano, I decided to give one third of the strip to the upper oboe/flute line. Then, when this becomes mezzo forte, the space allotment increases to one half of the total. I did this in order to be able to emphasize the fact that the flute/oboe passage is an upper line, floating the relatively smaller strips at the top of the painting. This is the kind of non-systematic decision I make in order to express the idea present in the original language (music) better in the new language (painting) than I could in a one-to-one mathematical equivalence. In the 5th measure, or measure No. 93 (According to both Haas and Nowak editions), where the soft piano returns in the flutes, the ration again becomes 1:3. The scale of the landscapes then increases during the mezzo forte section. Meanwhile, the scale is also changing within the St. Florian's line. The first four measures are piano and the corresponding image appears on a larger scale than it does in the next four measures, where the dynamic level is pianissimo.

The theme begins with a very dissonant inverted German 6th chord in Eb minor, holding onto its 50% grey until the third measure, where a tonic 6/4 gives over to a 20% complementary color of red-orange. This color remains until the 12th measure of the painting, where a series of three diminished and minor chords move chromatically in a harmonic rhythm of one per measure. Then begins a sequencing series of alternating diatonic and chromatic scales which move step wise around the wheel. Thus the 12th measure is yellow-orange, the 13th is purple, and the 14th is green. The same green starts the 15th measure's first diatonic scale. The next measure is the first chromatic scale and is turquoise blue, followed by yellow-orange, then green-yellow, red, blue-green, and finally, Eb minor red-orange. The last strip in the painting is the first note of the 110th measure and is Eb major green. The rest at the beginning of each measure in the architectural and landscape lines has provided an opportunity of the first note of the glazing hue to be clearly painted over a clean white strip. The color at this point is clear of any of the greying influence in the later additions of dissonance (i.e., complementary color). The second strip is a 30% dissonant color, and the rest of the measure is 40% complement for the diatonic scales and 50% for the chromatic scales. The final Eb-major chord is very consonant, at a complement of only 10%.

Movement II

The second movement takes place on and about the staircase inside the monastery courtyard designed by Carlo Antonio Carlone and Jakob Prandtauer. The Scherzo section uses as its visual vocabulary the outside view of the stairs, where the dynamic, diagonally moving lines are echoed by the melodic motives of the fast-paced music. The first painting performs the first 24 measures of the Scherzo. The Trio, between (or inside) the two Scherzo sections, is slower and quieter; I have therefore used the inside of the stairs in conjunction with it. Not only is the staircase interior an appropriate place architecturally, but it also appears quieter and slower inside. The last section of the movement visualizes the last 20 measures of the Scherzo, re-using the outside of the stairs but drawn from a different perspective.

Painting 1 (Scherzo)

The visual form of the first Scherzo painting is an "equal plane/independent movement" interpretation of the upper and lower sections. A new element was introduced in this painting, one that will assume greater independence and importance in later paintings: a concrete boundary line between the architectural and landscape images. Instead of having these areas simply meet each other, as in the last two paintings, here a solid red line, two inches high at the meeting point, separates the images. This boundary line moves according to the violas throughout the entire painting. When the violas begin their tremolo in the eighth measure the line is sliced into segments 1/4 inch wide and the color alternates between the original red and a lighter, oranger red. This continues until the painting ends.

The St. Florian's image, occupying the top half of the painting, fractures to the second violin part, which frequently is the same as the first violins. In its rendition, another innovation in my system appears: a new articulation technique used for a visual tremolo in an image line. All fiberglass strips in the architectural image running throughout the painting were cut into 1/4 inch wide pieces. Then the strips were placed up and down on the wall, in melodic formations consisting of one or two inch units, there was a small 3/16 inch space left between each unit. Because many of the lines on the staircase are diagonal, the strips, when returned to their original positions without the spaces between them, carry an image of constantly broken lines, much like the picture a computer generates through dot matrix. This is a "visual tremolo".

The Alpine image represents the cellos and double-basses throughout. There is no tremolo here, just a straight fracture of the image. The Alps account for the lower half of the painting. During rests in this line the architectural image occupies the entire strip.

The glaze value-changing system makes visual the first mezzo forte grace-note and half-note on the dominant. The dominant's glaze is dark due to the high dynamic level. Except for these two incidents in the beginning, and two more mezzo forte points in measures 8 and 10; the glaze is kept at a very low, constant value, acting only 8in a harmonic capacity. Harmonic glazes just express key movement and harmonic qualities. The glaze becomes linear again in the 11th measure of the painting while playing the oboe line, changing to the trumpets in the 19th measure through to the end.

Because these paintings are re-orchestrations of the original score, sometimes lines which echo one another are combined into, or represented by, one image. This can be compared with making a piano score from an original score for full orchestra. Such a situation applies significantly in the paintings derived from the Scherzo. It actually occurs in most of the paintings, but when there are so many lines echoing each other it is more prevalent.

The painting begins in C minor (yellow) and passes through F minor on the way to Gb major (yellow-orange). The interesting thing here is that because of the relationship between minor and major keys on the wheel a minor key is the same color as the major key located on the note a half step above. By using F minor as a bridge between C minor and Gb major I think that the two F-minor measures before the Gb are actually functioning as diminished 7th chords. It is then appropriate that F minor is the same yellow-orange as its resolution, or Gb. I decided to emphasize here the relationship of minor mode to major mode by giving a thin, blackish over-glaze to the minor measures. Also, as Bruckner has put in some dissonant color of his own in the form of diminished and half-diminished chords at the beginning of some measures, I have used a very grey hue based on these chromatic chords at those places. In the 11th measure the Gb key goes by thirds to its submediant, or Eb minor, so the basic hue becomes red-orange, soon to be alternating with Gb-orange due to dual or pivotal functions. Later on (in the Finale) this treatment of pivotal chords will be fully developed into a flickering alternation between the colors of the keys involved. The key then moves back to its F minor state, and again back to Gb major. Therefore, most of this painting is an orange hue. The last chord is F major. I chose to color it the yellow of C minor instead of an F major blue, preferring to recall the original F tremolo in the beginning of the first movement as the subdominant of C minor.

Painting 2 (Trio)

The new development occurring in the Trio painting determines the erstwhile boundary line, previously tied to the line between two images, as a separate element. It can now move independently or stay within the boundary at will. In this painting the boundary- now simple intervening-line moves to the little ornamental motive in the horns, first in measures Nos. 8, 9, and 10 and then in measures Nos. 13 through 16. The line now changes colors just as keys change. This changing hue line will reappear in the third theme of the horn line, going from two inches (5.1cm) to four inches (10,2cm).

The lyrical melody in the first violins is carried by an image of high mountain peaks with dramatic clouds in the upper half of the painting. The lower half of this "equal plane/independent movement" painting is given to the second violins, frequently including the cello line. These parts are represented by the inside of the Prandtauer stairs; the line is pizzicato for the first half of the painting, and therefore better embodied by architecture. In order to achieve visually the articulation in a pizzicato line I left some space between the strips while painting on them, as in the tremolo of the Scherzo. (The breaks in the line are more easily seen in an architectural image than in a landscape as there is a more regular order in architecture.) The glaze is a linear glaze, reproducing the cello/double-bass line. When there is a rest in one of the figurative lines, the other image takes over the complete strip.

The simplicity of one lyrical melody moving against a 2/4 rhythmic line contrasts with a very complicated, ambiguous harmonic structure. Because of the ambiguities certain passages could be interpreted in two different ways. I believe that this is deliberate on Bruckner's part, and have therefore devised a visual formula which preserves the possibility of two meanings at once. In the first two measures of the painting it is unclear whether a rhythmically regular way between green-yellow and yellow-orange. I chose to begin with green-yellow because the Trio ends on Ab major.

This section also has a liberal use of Neapolitan-sixth-chord entrances into new regions. In the 10th measure the region of B major (orange) is entered in this way. The region continues until the 13th measure where Gb major is also preceded by its Neapolitan sixth. Both of these sixths follow similar patterns; the preceding chord is one fifth below, so it sounds like the movement is to the dominant chord, but the chord is really a Neapolitan sixth (N6) to the key a tritone away from the first chord. Therefore, even though what is modulated to is far away from the preceding key, it is a smooth transition, sounding relatively consonant. I have in these two cases given the N6 (Fb6) of Eb major (green) is approached in a much more dissonant way, through a C4/3 chord, which is a tritone away. I have therefore given this N6 a dissonant number of 5, or a 50% content of complementary color.

The aforementionend Eb green of measures 3 and 4 moves by medient to Cb (enharmonic B or orange) in measure No. 5. There is a small amount of red inserted from the chromatic dominant of Ab minor at the end of measure 5. This red mixes its color with the orange of Cb through half of the 6th measure, which then becomes completely orange until it changes to Eb-major green at the end of the 7th measure. This continues until the N6 entrances of B major orange in the 10th measure, ;lasting until the step wise movement to C major-blue in the 13th. The end of measure 13 has the N6 to Gb orange, briefly interrupted by green from Eb major. Measure 15 introduces Db-major yellow which lasts until the end of the painting.

The extremely active chromaticism of this section can easily be seen in the way the colors skip around the color wheel. This is in direct contrast to the last painting (the first from the Scherzo) which pretty much stays within the yellow-to-orange range. I have also continued with the minor-mode extra glaze that began in the Scherzo. Key connections of mediant, tritone, or step wise movement are not specifically encoded into the system, as this happens naturally through the use of the color wheel. It is also not necessary for me to try and make a visual difference between regions and keys, as this , too, is automatically seen through the duration of a color.

Painting 3 (Scherzo)

The last painting from the second movement is a translation of the final 21 measures from the Scherzo (No. 174-195 in both Haas and Nowak editions). The image is the same as the first Scherzo painting, but is re-drawn using a perspective whereby the left half of the picture is smaller. The image here is farther from the viewer, but gradually grows larger as it comes closer. This is because the dynamics begin at piano and steadily climb towards fortissimo. St. Florian's is used for two motive lines in the music and occupies both the top and bottom thirds of the painting.

The Alpine image, which is not a high peak but rather a rounded hill with one tree on it and backed by a dramatic sky, occupies the middle section of the painting. This tree is painted and re-painted a total of five times, each one larger than the last, in order to express the growing dynamics clearly.

There are two boundary lines in the painting which disappear during rests in their motives. These begin at a height of two inches (5.1 cm) and grow in steps to six inches (15.2 cm) along with the increasing loudness. The sixth voice is present in the changing values of the glaze.

These 21 measures, with their layering together of many lines, are the most complicated in my whole Bruckner cycle until the last 13 measures of the Finale. The visual format of the painting is therefore layered into the before mentioned six voices. These voices achieve a woven effect thanks to the staggering of the beginnings and endings of the individual motives. When one voice has a rest, the image below or above it in the painting takes over its section of the strip. The boundary lines never do this; they just begin and end with their own voices.

The task of re-orchestration was a very complicated and important procedure in this painting. There are more than twenty voices playing in the music; however, many of them are doubles. I had to represent the primary voices, eliminating their doubles, and then place them within the painting so that they can visually meld together in the same way the Scherzo accomplishes this aurally. Therefore, the flutes were put into the middle zone of the painting and portrayed by the Alps. Their motive of begins in the middle of the measure. The same motive occurs in the upper St. Florian image, or the trumpets, but it begins after an 8th-note rest. The Alpine flute motive changes after a while to a basically rhythmic motive of . This is the same as the upper boundary line (2nd flutes), here called B.L.1. These two lines move in synchronization with one another. During their mutual rests the upper St. Florian's line runs all the way through until the 2nd or lower boundary line (B.L.2.). When the Alpine line continues up for rests in the upper St. Florian's line it must visually go under B.L.1. Thus, a "woven" effect is created.

The lower of B.L.2 (horns 3 and 4 and sometimes 1 and 2) moves closely with the lower St. Florian's line (the tremeloed line of the 2nd violins), although it does not tremolo. The 2nd-violin tremolo is made visual in the same way as in the first Scherzo painting. The strips were cut into half-inch pieces and given 3/16-inch spaces between them when they were on the wall during the painting process. This small articulation can now be seen, as the lines which are not perfectly parallel to the bottom edge of the painting do not meet exactly. When the Alpine line takes over the strip during rests it moves freely past B. L. 2, which also at rest. Sometimes the St. Florian lower line, while moving upwards through the Alpine section, appears to go under B.L.2 and sometimes, especially towards the right side of the painting, it has a clear path through because of the diminution of the motive in B.L.2.

The changing value of the linear glaze begins in the cello/double-bass line and moves to the 1st and 3red clarinet line. As the dynamics of the lines increases the values increase mathematically.

The harmony is very uncomplicated in the cadence of the Scherzo. The painting begins in ;C-major blue, which continues until the 9th measure (No. 183) where it becomes a C-minor yellow region. However, the movement ends on a Picardy Third, and therefore returns to blue. The simple harmonies provide few color changes and no chromatic coloring. This is of course in stark contrast to the Trio.

Movement III (Adagio)

The Adagio has only two themes but, because the tempo of the music is so slow, I broke the first theme into two paintings. These are to be exhibited close together, with only an 8-inch (20.3 cm) space between. These 8 inches visually replicate the half-measure rest occurring between the two parts of the theme. In this movement a full musical measure is 16 inches (40.6 cm) wide. The first movement had 8-inch measures, while those in the Scherzo were each 6 inches (15.2 cm). Thus, 16 inches represents a considerable slowing of the tempo.

I painted the first theme the second time it occurs in the movement, as the length of its initial statement is too long to present even as two paintings. As this is contiguous with the second theme's first version the paintings, when shown together, actually comprise one continuous section of music.

The architectural images for the Adagio come only from the inside of St. Florian's church. The first painting includes columns, carvings and balconies, along with segments of the painted ceiling. Entirely comprising the second painting is J.A. Gump and M. Steidl's ceiling painting depicting the martyrdom of St. Florian. (The Saint, falling at the river Enns with a millstone around his neck, is shown at center.) The third painting also derives solely from the ceiling, but shows an enlargement of a painted architectural detail.

I have used the same Alpine mountain range in all three paintings of this movement. The first painting focuses on the place where the foot of the mountains meet a valley floor. The second and third paintings look at the tops of these mountains.

Painting 1

The first theme plays against faintly pulsing chords in the strings. The small articulations in these chords , which sound like breathing, are subtle and must be represented visually in an appropriate way. This treatment of articulation is very different from the articulations in the Scherzo where spaces were left between the strips while the architectural images were being painted, resulting in broken lines in the finished painting. Here I painted the same landscape twice, once in blue tonalities and once in greens. Whenever a "breath" appears in the background chords the image changes to the other landscape. The eye thus moves back and forth horizontally, albeit softly, due to the ambiguous nature of the lines and forms in landscape. The subtle change in color underlines these articulations. The last three measures are composed solely of the blue landscape as the chord pulsations have ended.

The theme (in the violins) appears as St. Florian's over the background landscape. This painting, like the other tow paintings in the Adagio, therefore takes the "image overlay" form, the height of the image module determined by dynamic changes. The image within the module fractures to the melody.

The pink line appearing in front of both St. Florian's and the Alps moves independently to the 3rd and 4th horns. Glaze values express the double-bass 8th-note accents during the first four measures. They then move to the second violins, which are echoed exactly by the flutes and the first violins (embodied in St. Florian's) through the remainder of the painting.

The first painting begins in Db major, or yellow, Followed by a series of German-sixth chords which also pass through Bb minor (orange), then up a half step to B major, remaining orange. In the 8th measure (No.36) of the painting the music enters Eb minor, and then goes to Ab major or green-yellow-- ending on a half-measure-rest harmonic glaze. After the beginning of the painting much of the glaze is very grey as much of the movement is very dissonant. The German-sixth chords alone carry a dissonant value of 5, which means 50% complementary color.

Painting 2

The first violin theme, which was represented by the inside of St. Florian's church as an inner or overlaid image in the last painting, now becomes the outer, background image, but continues with its St. Florian motive. This depiction of St. Florian being thrown off the bridge slowly increases its scale as the dynamic level progresses from pianissimo to fortissimo. In the 5th measure (No. 43) this painting of a painting fractures to the harp scales which move by fifths around the color-harmony wheel, slowly decreasing in size until once again reaching a pianissimo level.

The cellos and double-basses are represented by the now inner Alpine image and the changing values of the glazes. In order to make the increasing and decreasing dynamic levels very clear visually I painted the same peak at each different scale, as in the last Scherzo painting. All strips from the same dynamic level were painted together; when they are arranged into their original order the viewer's eye moves back and forth across the painting. The last measure is solely landscape fracturing to the little melodic bridge in the second horns connecting the first theme to the second theme.

The red line beginning in the 3rd measure (No. 42) of the painting starts in the trombone line and continues with the bassoons. It appears in the painting as an ornament floating in front of St. Florian's and the Alps.

The green-yellow glaze of Ab major continues from the last painting until the 2nd measure (No. 40), where this color is mixed with yellow because the Ab major is now a greyed-orange hue, representing a diminished-7th chord of Gb major. A much purer circle of fifths and the color wheel by fifth intervals. That means that the color change in a very smooth, orderly way, except for the C chord, which is C minor yellow instead of C-major blue. The painting ends on a G-major purple.

Painting 3

In the third painting (second theme) St. Florian's keeps the theme, now played in the cellos. It resumes the inner image position in the continuation of an "image-overlay" visual form. The size of the strips grows larger and smaller, as does the scale of the image from the painted ceiling of St. Florian's church. One can read the melody of the theme only on the bottom line of the inner module, as the top line accommodates dynamic changes.

In the first painting of the Adagio two complete and independent images (although the same Alpine picture) were painted in two different colors. These were combined to make an "expanded" landscape. This painting has the same landscapes above and below one another one image occupying the upper two thirds of the painting and the other the bottom one third.

The visual tremolo of the strings is achieved by changing from blue landscape strips to green landscape strips every 1/4 inch (0.63 cm). The top landscape consists of strips which are twice as long as those in the bottom landscape. The landscape, in the upper position during the painting process, was painted in blues and the lower one in greens. After uniting all the long strips and likewise the shorts, the taller top image reads blue, green, blue, green and the shorter, bottom image manifests the opposite order. A visual tremolo is thus produced in two ways; through image color change every 1/4 inch (9.63 cm) and by moving the two images in and out of synchronization with each other, as the two versions were painted by eye only, without the help of mechanical aids such as projection machines. I did this purposefully in order to reproduce visually the kind of choices a musician has. A score rendered exactly to the beat would be quite boring. "Art is made through rhythmic and articulatory manipulations. If the two landscapes' images replicated each other exactly, only changing from blue to green-- as if one had cut up two photographs whose only difference were blue or green color filters in the printing process--the resulting image would be very sterile. It is far more interesting to watch these two images move in and out of synchronization in a surprising, unpredictable way. For me, this is a visualization of what happens when an artist plays music. But even this irregular element is repeated exactly; the upper and lower synchronizations are echoes of one another. After all, they are combinations of the same two images. Another very noticeable movement occurring in the landscape line results from scale changes in the image. Dynamic changes create huge scale changes which are also doubled in the top and bottom images.

One might wonder why the top image is twice the area of the bottom. This was a visual-orchestrational decision based on the principles of visual form. I did not want to have a symmetrical division of space. The music has dynamism and movement better expressed by an off-center composition. I made the decision to have two landscapes while focusing more and more on the language aspects of music. Redundancy, or repetition of the same ideas, is part of what separates "noise" from "information in language. Music can do this by doubling themes in several lines.

There is an independent, floating line which is a tremolo. It begins quietly in the 5th measure (No. 61) of the painting at a height of 1 1/2 inches (3.8 cm), growing with the dynamics to 4 inches (10 cm). Its tremolo is expressed by alternating 1/4 inch wide segments between red-orange and deep red. The musical line it represents is that of the violas.

The glaze is actually only harmonic up to the oboe line (also echoing the St. Florian line) in the 7th measure of the painting, and then resumes with the falling flute scale in the last two measures. It is of a medium value (intensity) until the 5th measure where it becomes very light, due to the fact that the horns (whose pedal tone is being portrayed) fall silent. A 4-3 suspension, also in the horns, begins in the 3rd measure and resolves in the second half of the 4th measure. It can be seen as greenish grey (made from E major red-orange and its blue-green complement) resolving in red-orange. The 5th measure sees key movement by tritone to F minor (yellow-orange). This color will remain through the end of the painting. A very light minor key over-glaze was also applied.

Movement IV (Finale)

For the Finale of his Eighth Symphony, Anton Bruckner composed a stately cathedral of sound and structure. The Finale brings ideas from earlier movements to resolution together, sometimes using new themes which recall past themes in rhythmic or motivic ways. The last thirteen measures quote directly from previous movements.

I want my visual Finale to function in the same way, referring back to earlier paintings from the symphony and serving as a clarification and resolution of earlier ideas. The first three paintings of the Finale, which represents its three theme groups, use as their architectural motives images from both inside and outside of St. Florian's Marble Hall (Fig. 1). The rhythm of the columns inside, and alternately the vertical window decorations on the outside, echoes the 2/2 forward driving beat of the Finale. The recollection of past themes is achieved through re-use of previous landscape images. The first theme utilizes one of the Alpine scenes from the first painting in the first movement, while the third theme group depicts the mountain range which appeared throughout the entire Adagio.

I wanted also to refer to previous structural schemata, notable the three different overarching visual formats. "Image overlay", which was used for the first and third painting in the first movement and all through the Adagio, and appears again in the first painting from the Finale. "Equal plane/independent motion", seen before in the second and third paintings from the first movement, in the first Scherzo painting, and also in the Trio, occurs again in both the second and third paintings of the Finale. The remaining format, that of "woven image", is saved for the last, very layered thirteen measures of the symphony.

Painting 1

I painted the first theme the second time it is stated, starting at measure No. 17. The grace-note/quarter-note driving rhythm in the background strings was embodied by both the inside and outside of the Marble Hall, the grace notes by half-inch strips of inside image and the quarter notes by 1 1/2 inch strips from the outside of the building (Fig. 1-3). Because the inside strips are so thin and widely spaced from one another, it is difficult to see what the image actually is, but it operates on a subliminal level. Perhaps the astute observer will recognize it in the painting of the second theme, which shows the inside of the Marble Hall in great detail.

The actual melodic theme is represented by the Alps as an "image-overlay" against the inside/outside St. Florian's background. The grace note in the 3rd measure (No. 19) is visualized by upending a half-inch strip. The scale of the mountains is increased in the 9th measure when the dynamic level moves from fortissimo to fortississimo. The mountain image is split, so the enlargement is easily recognized as it repeats the smaller image to the left and also starts again to the right in the resumption of the Alpine theme in the 1th measure (No. 31). During the rest in this line, St. Florian's takes over the complete strip except for the trumpet line (Fig. 4).

The trumpets enter as a large block of red color in the 9th measure (No. 25) (Fig. 5). The boundary line has at this point become completely independent from any border between images and has reached a height of 8 inches (20.3 cm), becoming half as large when the dynamic level diminishes in the 13th measure (No. 29). At this point St. Florian's also dramatically decreases in scale.

The first theme during this second rendition begins on Ab minor red and the 4th measure (No. 20) changes to its parallel major of green-yellow. The glaze values follow horns 5 and 6 until the 9th measure (No. 25) where the glazing takes up the kettledrum tremeolo. Instead of alternating rapidly between light and dark values, here the tremolo is visualized through rapid movement between Ab major green-yellow and C minor yellow until measure 15 (No. 31) where the modulation is completed and C minor yellow is the only color. At this point the tremolo is a light/dark alternation; it stops at the next measure, at which point the glaze picks up the trombone line, also echoing the Alpine horn theme, and goes through a greyed cadence which ends on a pure C minor yellow. The glaze is particularly intense between the 9th and 12th measures due to the fortississimo dynamic level.

Painting 2

The second theme is slower than the first. Therefore the width of each measure has been increased, from 8 inches in the first painting to 12 inches. It is a counterpoint with three, and occasionally four, voices. Equal importance is given to the top and bottom lines, so "equal plane/independent motion" is an appropriate structural format for the painting. I decided to base the upper and lower voices on the same image, a photographic compilation of one half of the inside of the Marble Hall from floor to, and including much of, the painted ceiling, depicting an homage to Emperor Charles VI. (The ceiling paintings and frescoes are the work of the Altomonte brothers and the architectural painting is by Ipplyto Sconzani). I did not use any Alpine image, as the effulgence of the painted ceiling provides the necessary mood.

There are three different perspectives and five scale changes in my depiction of the room. In the completed painting one can see the voices moving towards and away from each other as the ceiling and floor of the room come closer and then farther apart. When there is a rest in one voice, the other occupies the entire strip. Because dynamic changes are so important in Bruckner's music there are passages in the painting when the melodic movement or stasis is affected by scale changes. This is another example of a work transformed into a language whose properties differ greatly from those of the original language. The translator is constantly forced to make choices based on subjective decisions about relative importance.

The upper voice in the horns has a dynamic level of mezzo forte while the middle and lower voices in the strings are at piano. This is visually expressed through a 6:4 spatial ratio within the strip. This line is performed by both the upper half of the Marble Hall and the glaze line until it ends in the 5th measure (No. 73), where these two visual elements then embody the first violin line. The middle voices (first violins until the 7th measure, then the 2nd violins and cellos) represented by a 2 inch (5 cm)--high neutral grey line. In the last four measures of this ten measure painting two grey lines represent the two inner voices, which sometimes come so close to each other as to form a solid block. I painted this line a neutral color, one which would not stand illusionistically in front of the images, in order to preserve the equal-plane nature of the painting. The lower half of the Hall represents the second violins and cellos until the 5th measure, where it stays in the cellos but gives up the violas and takes on the double-basses. During the second half of the 5th measure and the whole 6th measure this lower half of the image is in the complete strip, because the other voices are silent.

The harmony is very simple. Except for a small amount of F minor orange chromaticism coloring the 7th and 8th measures, all is Ab major yellow-green. Dissonant grey colors can be seen through non-harmonic tones in the 5th and 6th measures and in the cadence of the 9th measure.

Painting 3

As the last painting used images only from St. Florian's, I decided to make this painting solely with Alpine pictures. I used the same mountain image for both musical voices, but each image moves totally independently of the other in this "equal plane/independent motion" painting. There is also a slight difference in the scalar (that is, dynamic) changes between the two lines.

I have treated the marching theme of the strings as a background for the melody being played in the winds. The first Alpine picture is to be painted in green hues and split into upper and lower halves. The top half appears in the upper part of the painting, and the bottom half is in the lower portion. Located between this split image is a blue rendition of the same mountains, representing the wind theme. The green mountains fracture to the strings' melodic line, the blue to the winds. There are three solid lines running the length of the painting. The first occurs along the boundary between the upper (green) and lower (blue) images, following the fracturing pattern of the green. The second splits the blue image in two and follows its fracturing pattern. The third defines the boundary between the blue and the lower green image but echoes the green fracturing pattern. These lines are to be colored according to the basic hues controlled by key movement. The light/dark patterns of the glaze follow the strings.

The glazing colors begin and end on Eb minor red-organge. Starting in the 9th measure (No. 143) of the painting the colors move around the wheel by thirds in a series of dominant-seventh chords, moving from the dominant of Gb major (yellow-orange) to that of the Eb major (green), to Cb major (orange), to Ab major (green-yellow), to F minor (yellow-orange).


The method I have developed to translate Music into painting is highly intricate and long --and as you have seen-- still evolving. My method differs from other attempts to establish art-music equivalents in its detail; but in its general spirit, at least, it builds on the thinking and the achievements of othrs. I regard my work as continuing, perhaps renewing, the experiments in tone-color equivalents conduckted by artists such as Morgan Russell and by musicians such as Alexander Scriabin, and as well the experiments in visual-sonic form undertaken by painters and sculptors like Heinrich Neugeboren (also know as Henri Nouveau) and Louigi Veronesi. I also derive inspiration, however, from attempts further afield than my own to bring art and music together -- especially, but not exclusively, if those attempts are structural as well as intuitive. It shoulc come to you as no surprise, then, to hear what composition will be the next I translate into visual form: one of our century's most ambitious essays in the merging of music, art and language, Kurt Schwitters' Die Sonate in Urlauten.