It is quite sad to think that when the famous
Russian pianist and composer Rachmaninoff passed in 1943 he was unaware that he was about to make history with one of his piano concerto’s as the soundtrack to a British love film that infiltrated the hearts and minds of millions, for years to come. I’m certain enough too, that he was unaware that in little over sixty years his concerto was also to be woven into textiles
As a part of The Southbank’s summer
festival The Festival of Love and the London Philharmonic Orchestra's (LPO) year long festival, Rachmaninoff: Inside Out, Nadia-Anne Ricketts was commissioned to create a textile art piece for the Royal Festival Hall. Not just any old art piece either, but an interpretation of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 used within David Lean's award winning 1945 love film Brief Encounter (which was screened at the Hall in August accompanied by a newly commissioned orchestral soundtrack played by the LPO itself). For those that would like a piece of the concerto for themselves, there will be a small capsule collection with three design variations to show how one song can be translated into a handful of designs, either literally or abstract. Currently available to purchase at The Southbank Centre.
At her London design studio, BeatWoven, Ricketts
has designed a bespoke audio software program that translates any played music into visual patterns, especially for weaving. ’Similar to that of a very granulated, broken down sound wave, it inspects and discovers the patterns happening within the sound wave.’ For the commissioned piece, she started by playing the Rachmaninoff concerto over and over through the software to analyse and become familiar with the patterns. Though the basic colour palette was determined by the interior design of the Royal Festival Hall, where it will be installed, Ricketts also uses her previous performing experience to connect with the music, juxtaposed with extensive research for each song, including the artist, genre, era and story behind its composition, to ultimately choose colour combinations and yarns. “When designing my musical textile pieces I feel that I am expressing my passion for music in a visual way, rather than as a dance performance. The designing and making process becomes my visual music performance”.
Ricketts explains ’For the Rachmaninoff piece, it was a challenge as I was designing with in the parameters of the colours of the interior space, as well as the film 'Brief Encounter' and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2, I felt I needed to encapsulate it all and was challenged by the contrast of the austerity of the film, and the huge amounts of emotion in the music. I therefore chose an orange-toned red; a poppy silk as the main patterned colour with a steel yarn and an antique copper to help represent the multitude of steam engine scenes in the movie. I mixed these with classic black and white wool due to its era of 1945, and granite grey silks. I took the pattern created by the audio, edited it and prepared it ready for weaving.’
From her experience,
Ricketts explains that visually, classical music, electronic music and jazz music make noticeably different patterns. ’There is more background space on classical music with the patterns ironically being more organic in appearance. House music, or electronic music, is more intense in terms of patterns, sometimes creating some fantastic shapes due to the synthesizers. The bass line and rhythm tend to be more obvious, constant and repetitive, therefore creating a full pattern with lots of shapes filling the void. Jazz music I have found to make the sweetest patterns due to the trumpets!’
Shop Rachmaninoff in scarf, cushion or art form by visiting Southbank Centre's online shop, and view the rest of the festival's schedule (running until April 2015) online. Art piece can be seen for members on the 5th Floor, Royal Festival Hall from the beginning of November.
BeatWoven patterns created by translating Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. Repeat Size 34cm x 34cm. Woven on a silk warp in England. 60% Silk, 20% Wool and 20% Antique Copper coated yarn. 140cm width. Sold Price Per Metre
BeatWoven patterns created by translating Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2. Repeat Size 34cm x 220cm. Literal Audio Pattern. Woven on a silk warp in England. 60% Silk, 20% Wool and 20% Antique Steel coated yarn. 140cm width. Sold Price Per Metre