In August 2011 Grunge approached BRASH with the idea of creating a tonal system that would link specific vowel sounds to specific musical notes. In concept, this would mean that the poetry would write its own music, somewhat simply and straightforwardly. It seemed like a good plan at the time.
Grunge first met BRASH at the Blue Elephant Gallery in Frederick MD during the closing of the Art and Addiction show where BRASH performed several of the poems written for that show to simple Balkan folk melodies. They tried some experiments using existing folk melodies or improvised melodies with BRASH’s collection of Artomatic poems. As lovely as the folk melodies sometimes are, issues of international copyright permissions promised a more extensive project than either of them wanted to take on, and the improvised melodies, even recorded, were sometimes hard to stabilize, and difficult to transcribe into the Western scale. There was also an agreement that the improvisation, although tempting, seemed to fall into a “sameness,” almost a natural iterating of a twelve-tone or chromatic scale.
At the time, when Grunge suggested the idea of connecting specific musical sounds to specific vowel sounds, it seemed a simple concept to implement. (Pause for maniacal laughter. Cut it off before it goes too long.) Now we know why no one else ever came up with such a brilliant and simple system. It is taking a lot longer than we anticipated, we don’t have time to actually test the melodies and tweak them or make aesthetic suggestions, but are hoping that the artists themselves will test the different modal iterations and let us know what their preferences are, and maybe go forward from there to creating the rest of the texture of the piece, such as chording, rhythmic settings, and all the other etceteras of composing (not to mention the editing process of poems written so quickly in the context of AOM that most of them would certainly need some degree of rescue, which in turn would in most cases change the melody....). We’re hoping that all of the artists would be interested in this process, but we’re also hoping that not all of them will, because that’s looking at an enormous amount of time and effort, which leads to our simple and insane hope that we won’t kill each other by the end of the run of AOM-Fred, because in that case one of us will be working from jail and the other from the grave.
All talk of murder aside, please contact us if this project is of interest to you, or even if the idea completely baffles you but you’d still like your share of the insanity. The worst that can happen is that you’ll learn a little about musical modes, which is something the both of us have always wanted to get around to doing, and now we have. Thank you for your participation at Artomatic-Fred.
Tonal system and specific tonal patterns copyright © October 2011 MdlGrunge All rights revered. MDLGrunge@BlueElephant.org