Sound + Silk
A Tactile Translation
Sound + Silk is a translation of a piece of music by Olivier Messiaen called Quatuor pour la fin du temps (Quartet for the end of Time) from sound into fabric. Listen here.
Olivier Messiaen was imprisoned in a German prisoner of war camp. There were three other musicians in the same prison. Messiaen was able to obtain a small pencil and paper upon which he composed this piece. The combination of violin, piano, clarinet and cello was an unusual one. They were able to obtain a set of decrepit instruments with which they performed for their 400 fellow prisoners in 1941. There are eight movements in this work, each very distinctly different from one another.
This piece of music fascinated me because it was composed for the tools at hand - broken instruments missing strings, and an odd collection of musicians. I am intrigued by how limitations can generate more creativity than free reign. Messiaen also experienced synesthesia, where he saw color when he heard certain musical chords - which added another element to this project.