Sound of Music
Notes for teachers and group leaders
4 April – 14 June 2009
Turner Contemporary, Margate
Sound of Music
Saturday 4 April – Sunday 14 June 2009
Sound of Music explores the links between art, sound and music and features over thirty art works
including film, video, sculpture, sound and text.
Beginning with John Cage’s experiments in composition of the 1950s, the exhibition highlights the
ongoing dialogue between visual art and music that continues today. A key figure in the exhibition,
Cage proposed that any sound, even silence, can be considered as music and introduced the idea
of chance into musical composition. Ideas of chance and randomness also appear in works by
Robert Barry, Véra & François Molnar and Pierre Huyghe, whose interactive installation of musical
chimes is based on John Cage’s 1948 composition Dreams.
Art, like music, is a form of language. Works by Art & Language, Allen Ruppersberg and Cerith Wyn
Evans are concerned, in different ways, with language and perception. In Ruppersberg’s The
Singing Posters (2003-05) extracts from Allen Ginsburg’s1956 Beat poem Howl are mixed with
commercial advertisements to produce a visual cacophony similar to the barrage of images
conjured up by the work.
Works by a younger generation of artists include references to pop, rock and folk culture: Jeremy
Deller’s History of the World (1996) traces the links between the Acid House scene of the late
1980s and traditional brass bands. Meredyth Sparks’ collages overlay iconic images of rock stars
with shards of foil and glitter to comment on the link between creative energy, destruction and
idolisation central to rock mythology.
Finally, Sound of Music offers an opportunity to see some of the works in the collection of the
FRAC Nord-Pas De Calais, Dunkirk, who produced the original version of this travelling exhibition.
The FRACs (Fonds Régionaux d'Art Contemporain) are regional centres for the collection and
presentation of contemporary art in France. The FRAC Nord-Pas De Calais has a collection of over
one thousand works by French and international artists from 1968 to the present.
These notes were written by the Turner Contemporary Learning Team and Helen Caddick.
Before your Visit
It may be useful to introduce some of the themes and ideas before you come to the gallery.
Activities could include:
Listen to examples of music inspired by art
Listen to Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel scored for chorus, viola and percussion, whilst looking
at paintings by Mark Rothko.
Listen to Henri Dutilleux Timbres, espace & mouvement for Orchestra whilst looking at the painting
which inspired the piece: Van Gogh’s The Starry Night.
Discuss both works and create compositions of their own reflecting the swirling patterns in Van
Gogh’s night sky.
Listen to Gunther Schuller’s 7 Studies on themes of Paul Klee whilst looking at paintings by Paul
Look at Ligeti’s ‘listening’ score for his electronic piece Artikulation and create your own ‘listening’
score to a piece of your choice. Think about what symbols you could create to represent each
Create your own ‘graphic notation’ and then pass to others in the class to interpret. ‘Graphic
notations’ are highly personal vocabularies and are the catalysts for a social process of translation
and open-ended interpretation between composer and performer. For this reason they are an
ideal vehicle for students to explore how they personally connect sounds and mark-making, and
how their methods will be unique to them.
During your visit
You may find it useful to involve your class in some quick, fun activities in the gallery space when
you first arrive to encourage them to relax and think about the artwork in less conventional ways.
Activities could include:
As a class, sit in silence and listen to the exhibition. Which sounds are most intriguing? Do the
sounds make you want to investigate parts of the exhibition first?
Think about using your bodies to make sounds in the exhibition space. If you all click fingers, tap
the floor or hum together, how does it sound?
Discuss the difference between sound and music
What does music mean to you? Did you wake up with a song in your head this morning? What
song? And why?
Asking open questions in the gallery space will also encourage discussion and deeper engagement
with artworks. Questions could include:
- Does anything in the gallery surprise you?
- Do you feel drawn to one particular work in the show? Which one and why?
- Which artwork would fit better somewhere else?
- Which artwork is most confusing?
Artist summaries, activities and points for discussion
American composer John Cage is regarded as the most influential and experimental composer of the 20th
century and is integral to the Sound of Music exhibition. He is known for his unusual production of chance
music, electronic music and his unconventional usage of musical instruments. Cage described music as a
“purposeless play” which is “an affirmation of life-not an attempt to bring order out of chaos nor to suggest
an improvement in creation, but simply a way of waking up to the life we’re living.”
Cage suggests, through his works, that any sound can be regarded as music, even silence. He aimed to
remove creative choice from composition and the idea of chance is essential. In 4 33, John Cage’s most
famous and controversial 1952 composition, each of the three movements in the piece are performed
without a single note being played. This composition is seen to incorporate the sounds of the environment
that the audience hear whilst it is being performed, instead of continual silence for four minutes and thirty-
John Cage is known for his prepared piano pieces, which completely alter the sound of the piano by placing
various objects on or between piano strings. Cage was inspired by Eastern philosophies and was against
conventional European compositions.
The Sound of Music exhibition includes Diary: How to Improve the World which is an original contribution,
belonging to the mail-art project SMS which is directed by William Copley, signed by John Cage himself. This
work represents John Cage’s importance as an avant-garde composer of experimental music and he is,
therefore, a pivotal figure in The Sound of Music Exhibition.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Is it possible to hear complete silence? As a group, sit in silence. What can you hear?
Like many people, Phil Daniels cites The Sound of Music as his favourite musical. Why not turn the idea
of the musical on its head and reinvent a new Cageian score by looping and playing the visual sequence
of one of the songs in the film, for example ‘Doe a Deer’, silently with onlookers providing the score
with the noise they naturally create following Cage’s idea that all sound is music. Discuss effectiveness.
Listen to Sonatas & Interludes by John Cage, a collection of 24 pieces for prepared piano. Use this as a
starting point for discussion and creation of short compositions using the inside of the piano as well as
the keyboard using graphic score notation
Recreate Cage’s piece Water Music with shells and water
Make your own instruments with found objects and create compositions inspired by the art in Sound of
Demonstrate the inner workings of the piano and some Cage/Crumb techniques and listen to
performance of Sonatas & Interludes for prepared piano by John Cage to lead to discussion.
Create short compositions using the inside of the piano as well as the keyboard, using graphic score
notation to represent your ideas.
Suggested techniques to try:
With sustain pedal down try: drumming and plucking the strings, hammering strings with palms of
hands, sliding objects down the strings, pressing clusters of notes down silently at the same time as the
sustain pedal and then singing into the piano.
The composer John Zorn, b. 1953, was inspired by John Cage’s free approach to composition. Listen to
John Zorn’s ‘Spillane’ and discuss Zorn’s use of chance and game techniques to create a composition.
Zorn’s game pieces consisted of rules that determine when and who plays but not what the result will
sound like. He also uses a method which he calls ‘file-card composition’ where he begins by making lists
of impressions, ideas and snippets of sounds some of which are then transferred to file cards as
individual events. These are then sorted and arranged into an order where they then become the
Discuss possible game rules that could be applied and create a class composition.
Give each student a file card and ask them to choose a piece of work in the exhibition that makes a
strong impression. Ask the students to jot down their impression of the work along with a musical idea
– it could be rhythmic or melodic. Reconvene as a group and discuss the ideas. As a class decide on an
order, perform, listen and assess. Does it work? Discuss.
Study of Graphic scores as works of art
- Englert’s Aria for Timpani
- Cage’s Fontana Mix
- Stockhausen’s Zyklus for solo percussion
- Feldman’s Atlantis
Look at scores and listen to performance of Makrokosmos for piano solo by George Crumb b.1929, who
developed the idea of ‘extended’ piano techniques. Crumb’s scores are beautiful and often visually
illustrate ideas behind pieces within his works e.g. Spiral Galaxy as seen within this piece.
These scores were intended only for the eyes of the performer to communicate better Crumb’s
intentions, discuss this idea –does it enhance our experience in any way to look at the scores?
John Cage, Diary: How to Improve the World, 1968
La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela
American music composer La Monte Young is considered as the first minimalist music serialist. This
minimalist genre, beginning in the 1960s, is based in constant steady harmony. During his early years as a
musician he was influenced by Indian classical music and Indonesian gamelan music. Then in 1959, whilst at a
seminar in Darmstadt, he encountered John Cage’s experimental methods of interpretation and
indetermination in composition which further influenced his work leading him to a more experimental
His compositions progressed towards continuous sound, variations and repetitions. It was during the early to
mid 1960s that La Monte Young developed a working relationship with George Maciunas the founder of the
international network Fluxus. He worked alongside them and drew up scores made of simple
recommendations for example Draw a Straight Line and Follow it. He formed the Theatre and Eternal music
group and created Dream House compiled of visual and sound installations. One of the four members in the
group was Young’s wife Marian Zazeela a New York light-artist, designer, painter and musician. During the
1970s these two musicians became interested in Asian music and the music of Hindustani classical musician
Pandit Prân Nath, attempting to develop sound over time (such as six hours in length) and the impact it had
on human perception.
Three pieces attributed to La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela are included in the Sound of Music exhibition.
Composition 1960, Piano for David Tudor, serves as a tribute to La Monte Young whose musical achievements
are closely linked with the music of John Cage and the choreographic work of Merce Cunningham.
Composition 1960, Piano for David Tudor is compiled of five musical scores, which present five instructions to
follow, allowing the possibility for improvisation. These different written compositions range from “Little
whirlpools out in the middle of the ocean” to “Let a butterfly free in the concert hall”. This piece releases the
noises of the world.
Composition 1960, Piano for David Tudor, 1960
The Black Record, 1969, is a vinyl record sleeve played in the Turner Contemporary Project Space. The sleeve
itself was made my Marian Zazeela and the text on the back of the sleeve outlines the history of each piece.
When played a buzzing noise can be heard; reminiscent to the sound environments in early work Dream
House. The Black Record creates a meditative experience for the listener.
The Black Record, 1969
An Anthology, 1970 is a collection of documents such as texts, photomontages, posters and music scores
which were assembled by La Monte Young and published in 1963. This piece is made up of performances
and scenarios by artists linked with Fluxus as well as conceptual and minimal art. Its free and open form is
reminiscent to Dada’s publications.
The works of French artist Pierre Huyghe range in media from film to sound installations. As an artist he
believes that art is the production of infinitely reworkable models and scenarios available for everyday
action. Interpretation is integral to his artistic practice and his works are to be taken as tools to be used by
anyone. His works emphasise notions of celebration, leisure and adventure blurring the line between
fiction and reality.
Huyghe’s Sans titre (Le carillon d’après “Dream” de John Cage), 1997 is an important piece in the Sound of
Music exhibition. The sculptural work is composed of chimes made up of 288 tubes of aluminium
corresponding to a score by John Cage where the notes are represented by the 47 pans hung from the
ceiling. The exhibition space is transformed by Huyghe’s interactive piece, which gives it rhythm and invites
the spectator to wander within the work itself bringing it to life when pushed and touched. The original
score is continually changed through visitor’s interaction with the work. It is the exhibition’s audience who
bring sound and life to the chimes which would otherwise be silent. This work reflects upon Cage’s
fascination with introducing chance and silence into musical compositions.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Does the meaning of Sans titre (Le carillon d’après “Dream” de John Cage) change when you interact with
Write a list of words to describe your reaction to the work when it is silent.
Do the same again while someone is interacting with the work.
How do your feelings and perceptions about the work change?
Sans titre (Le carillon d’après “Dream” de John Cage)
American Conceptual Artist Allan Ruppersberg revolutionised the way in which art was thought about and
created. He experimented with different techniques such as collage, video, drawing and performance.
Language is Ruppersberg’s principle material for artistic expression, drawing inspiration from popular
culture and mass media (illustration, advertisements and comic strips) as well as from the literary sphere
with which he was closely linked. His literary passion for books, both the object and idea, led him to
produce works which are often associated with ‘paintings to be read’, questioning notions of authenticity
and reproduction, production and reception, distribution and collection.
The Singing Posters, 2003-2005 combine poetry and advertisement transcribed onto vibrant posters. The
written text on these works pays homage to the iconic poet Allen Ginsburg and his poem Howl, 1956. With
strong views defending homosexual movements, the fight against the Vietnam War and totalitarian states,
Allen Ruppersberg’s works encourage the discovery of oneself, love and freedom. This series of posters
caused controversy as they were written under the influence of drugs and were taken to court for
obscenity when they were published. By offering to pronounce The Singing Posters instead of reading
them, Allen Ruppersberg brings the words to life in a profusion of bright colours.
The Singing Posters, 2003-2005
Please note: some of the language in this work may be deemed offensive.
Cerith Wyn Evans
Graduate from the Royal college of Art Cerith Wyn Evans initially began his artistic career with
experimental film making and later progressed into using other mediums such as sculpture, photography
and installation. His work is closely associated with conceptual art by using literary references or artists’
writings which generation notions of language, perception and communication.
Transmission (John Cage), 2003 is one of a series of Evan’s installations which use sections of literary texts
on plasma screens to communicate, alongside flashing lights which correspond to the rhythm of the text,
coded or decoded Morse. In addition, a paper lantern hangs near the screen accompanying it with a silent
voice. The work reflects upon ideas of a famous contemporary composer, the spirit of whom can be
summarised perfectly in this quote: “I am here and there is nothing to say (…) what we need is silence (…)
works can help us make silence.”
Transmission (John Cage), 2003
Originally trained as a chemist George Brecht later went on to become an artist and avant-garde composer
and was at one stage taught by John Cage in New York. During the 1960s and 1970s Brecht was an
important member of the international group of artists Fluxus. The artist and composer is known for his
Event Scores which are interactive scores or instructions for a happening. Sometimes the scores were
executed mentally or physically by the reader through instructions or brief written proposals. His famous
event score ‘Drip Music 1962’, is of dripping water falling into an empty vessel. Brecht quoted that
“everything is art” and echoed John Cage’s views by creating sensorial transposition enabling music to
Ten Event Glasses, 1984 in the Sound of Music exhibition is of 10 glass-stands arranged according to a
chance mathematical rule which introduces the idea of time and space. This interactive piece encourages
the viewer to meander through the “event scores”. The time taken for the viewer to move between the
events is perhaps the time needed to change ones perception of the everyday. The event occurs when the
spectator accepts to interpret the score by seeing the world from a different artist point of view.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Brecht quoted that “everything is art”? Discuss this as a class.
Can music be visual?
In groups create your own ‘event score’. Perform one another’s event scores.
Art and Language
The Art & Language group was founded in Coventry in May 1968 by four English artists. Art and Language is
also the name of the journal where they published their texts and has been an important influence on
British and American conceptual art. As a group they were focussed on promoting conceptual art by basing
their work on the theoretical aspects of thinking about art, its perception and its role in the social field.
The idea at the start of a work is for them as important as the actual production of the work, which is no
longer the priority.
The Sound of Music exhibition will include Surf a work composed of four scores of music where enigmatic
words replace the notes one expects to read. Any attempt to try and decode a message is pointless since
the artists recognise themselves that the term Surf doesn’t mean anything, nor do the other terms that we
try to link up. The work demonstrates how art is a language, which does not have to make sense to exist.
Finally, it is up to the visitor to choose how he interprets it.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Discuss different interpretations of Surf. Why do people have different interpretations of this work?
Can you play Surf? What does it sound like?
Véra & François Molnar
Hungarian artist Véra Molner received classical training at the school of Beaux-Arts of Budapest and later
settled in Paris in the fifties. Until 1960 she signed her abstract paintings with her husband François
Molnar, a specialist in the psychophysiology of vision. Both close to minimalism in the use of two colours
and geometric forms, Véra’s work gradually became a rationalisation of painting by proposing an art based
on science, and notably on mathematics to which she developed her research from 1947 to 1968. She was
one of the first artists to use computers in order to eliminate the artist from creating the work.
Sound of Music works Composition stochastique, 1959 and Interruption-continuation, 1961 derive from this
‘mathematical’ approach where the notion of probability holds an important place: the position of the
hyphens, therefore, are determined according to whether the results obtained from simply throwing the
dice are odd or even. They can be arranged horizontally (Interruption-continuation) or in a diagonal
pointing to the right (Composition stochastique). These works demonstrate how Véra Molnar introduces
chance into her creations. This work can be related to John Cage’s chance music and research which
contributed to the birth of electronic music.
Ideas for discussion and activity
As a class create your own work based on chance.
Listen to John Zorn’s ‘Spillane’ and discuss Zorn’s use of chance and game techniques to create a
composition. Zorn was inspired by John Cage’s free approach to composition.
Create your own game rules to determine when and who plays. How does it sound? Is there anything you
Interruption-continuation (Do it yourself), 1961 Composition stochastique, 1959
Belgian self-taught artist, Jan Vercrysse devoted himself to poetry until 1974. From then onwards he
began to think about what he calls ‘the conditions’ of art in general: context, definition,
representation and the capacity to produce meaning. Historically, his practice follows that of Magritte
and Marcel Broodthaers. His approach can be linked with conceptual artists such as Joseph Kosuth or
Daniel Buren whose works and theories he discovered. His interest and previous poetic experience is
echoed in his works.
As in his numerous publications, a taste for word games and quotations is evident. Jan Vercruysse’s
exhibited work Faire de la musique could be a popular album of well known scores, but only a few
measures entitled L’Internationale, The Entertainer, or Für elise are reproduced. As enigmatic as Surf,
a work by Art & Language, this book is above all a compilation of signs to remind us that art and music
Faire de la musique, 1977-1982
Robert Barry is strongly associated with the conceptual movement. His practice involves the spectator, the
listener and the surroundings in which the work is exhibited. It was from 1969 onwards that Barry wanted
to veer away from representation, subjectivity and any formal system and so he produced pieces only
consisting or words: proposals, lists, light projections. Barry compiled lists of linguistic signs both written
and oral as vocabulary and matter of his artistic creations.
An important piece included in the Sound of Music exhibition is Robert Barry’s Variation n1, 1977. This
work belongs to the Sound Pieces series made from 1972 onwards. No melody can be heard from the
recording; instead one hears a recital of 178 words dictated at regular intervals in slow rhythm break
through silence. However, it is between meaning (what each individual word means) and non-meaning (the
words having no meaning when sequenced) that the listener gradually becomes lulled by Barry’s voice. The
work gives way to associations of ideas and fills the space with a very distinctive presence.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Consider how the meanings of the words change in the different contexts.
Create a list of words at random. Consider the meaning of each word on its own.
Put two words next to each other. Do their meanings change?
Change one of the words in the pair. Do their meanings change again?
Write or say the same word over and over again. What happens to the meaning of this word?
Create your own rhythm with your word list
Create a music event for each word. Rearrange the order of the words. How does this work musically? Find
an order you feel works most effectively.
Use the rhythmic pattern of syllables in each word to dictate rhythmic riffs. Use these riffs as a building
block with which to build a piece.
London and Berlin based young artist Angela Bulloch produces work which takes on a multitude of forms
which are split into ‘families of works’. Bulloch is both an installation and sound artist who makes light
pieces, interactive installations, video programmes, lists of orders (Rules series) and drawing machines. As
an artist she is very interested in technical and formal analytical observation of the era and her constant
interest in public structures, social systems and myths.
In her 1996 work Grandstand and Marxist Myth, Bulloch pays a rather satirical homage to Marxism which
is a political philosophy and practice (based on social changed) invented by Karl Marx. For this she uses
everyday objects and links them together by arranging so that the spectator can interact with them. The
work involves the spectators because, like the other Sound Pieces, their behaviour first activates
involuntarily and then consciously the mechanisms and the sounds they give off. The work demonstrates
that in life our decisions involve us in a process of actions which change our destiny, just as the presence
of the visitor acts on the exhibited installation.
Grandstand and the Marxist Myth
(A Light Lowered a Floor Raised), 1996
It was during the 1960s that American Dennis Oppenheim was one of the most important artists of land
art and body art alongside famous characters such as Robert Smithson and Bruce Nauman. These two
approaches defined the artist’s aim: to highlight the relationship between his mental universe, his own
body and the world around him. For this, he developed what he called ‘non-specific objects’, sorts of
formal structures echoing his thoughts, worries and anxieties which served to contain them.
His Tune Towers piece belongs to the series of major installations of machinist iconography that he made
at the beginning of the eighties. These metallic structures resemble an industrial landscape (electric
pylons, cranes, scaffolding) without referring to it directly. For the artist, these sculptures are ‘mental
factories’, representing negative psychological phenomena. A pedal mechanism enables the spectator to
engage with the work and set off music boxes, which participate in the transformation of the exhibition
space into a mechanical poetic universe.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Select a ‘non-specific object’ you think portrays your thoughts and feelings.
Discuss as a group what these objects may say about one another.
Explore how music can reflect both positive and negative emotions.
An extreme situation in which musicians explore darker emotions is in conditions of war. It may be
appropriate to explore the following works as part of wider projects on World War II.
Shostakovich’s (b.1906) 8th Symphony (1943) graphically depicted the horrors of war. Shostakovich
often found himself in conflict with authority, pressured to portray in his work the ‘upbeat Soviet
spirit’; the autobiography states that Shostakovich was convinced that if he did not dance to Stalin’s
tune he would be executed.
The French composer Messiaen (b.1908) wrote Quartet for the End of Time while a German prisoner
of war in Silesia in 1940 – 42. The unusual instrumentation was determined by the availability of
musicians within the camp – a violinist, a clarinettist and a cellist with the piano part written for
Messiaen to play himself. It was premiered on 15th January 1941 in the Stalag VIII A in atrociously cold
weather. Messiaen later recalled: “Never have I been heard with as much attention and
understanding”. This work also uses birdsong and harmonies of heaven portrayed in sound colour:
blue and mauve, gold and green, red-violet, blue-orange all dominated by steel grey.
The Polish Composer Kryzstof Penderecki’s (b.1933) work Threnody for the victims of Hiroshima draws
on two contrasting compositional techniques – the extreme freedom of aleatoricism and the exacting
one of serialism. The composer once reminisced ‘I had written this piece and I named it, much as in
Cage’s manner 8’37”. But it existed only in my imagination, in a somewhat abstract way. When Jan
Krenz recorded it and I could listen to an abstract performance, I was struck with the emotional
charge of the work. I thought it would be a waste to condemn it to such anonymity, to those ‘digits’. I
searched for associations and in the end, decided to dedicate it to the victims of Hiroshima.’ (1994)
Listen to these works and discuss
Parisian artist Laurent Montaron graduated from the school of art and design of Reims. He produces
photographs, videos and installations and is becoming increasingly well-known. His works are constructed
on a formal level and they are full of artistic, theatrical and cinematographic references. His works are
set in the décor of open poetic fictions which are subliminal and throw the spectator into strange
atmospheres, which one could call second states. The stories of these fables only exist in the collective
imagination and unconsciousness of the reader. In each work there is a mystery to be solved, its visual
parable questioning ideas of representation, perception, interpretation.
In this fascinating photograph, Somniloquie, a man is sitting near a woman asleep. At a first glance
nothing strange appears to be happening in the photograph, but the title of the work Somniloquie, which
in French means to sleep talk, makes us aware of the microphone placed above the sleeping woman. The
visitor is free to place a ‘dub plate’ (a record where the ephemeral recording deteriorates as it is listened
to) on the turntable to go into the intimate world of the dreamer. In the complementary nature of the
medias, Laurent Montaron, offers the spectator a global fiction, consciousness and unconsciousness,
presence and absence, past and presence.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Carl Haenlein states: ‘…over the years, memory records images composed of actions, spaces, scenes,
stages and moods’. Music can transport you back in time to forgotten places, memories – is
Somniloquie an imagined event – the man wishing he could go back in time to capture the sound of
his loved one’s breathing whilst sleeping? How could we interpret?
François Curlet & Michel François
Artists François Curlet and Michel François both live and work in Brussels. The production of François
Curlet’s art is difficult to define as it wavers between conceptual art, Dadaist persistence, pop imagery
and situationist daydreaming. Using, like Michel François, various objects and sundry materials, his work
rejects all idea of representation. His artistic practice is based on the principle of substitution (replacing
one thing with another): he works with shifts of meaning, diversions, transformations adding amusement,
poetry and humour to his works, thus creating his own specific universe.
His installation ‘Les Loquaces’ is the result of an exceptional collaboration between the two artists and is
formed of two different tripods. One holds up an enormous, baroque knot of reed, whilst the other holds a
little pod of dried pomegranate. The strange elements composing the work convey a fairly surprising
association in a spirit close to Fluxus. Indeed, two famous tenor singers, Castafiore and Frank Sinatra, are
here brought together in a fictitious and symbolic way, as if ‘rooted to the spot in full recital’.
Ideas for discussion and activity
How does the work make you feel?
Why do you think these objects were chosen?
Can you create your own work using the same method?
Les Loquaces, 2002
Manon de Boer
Manon De Boer studied classics in visual art at the Academies of Rotterdam and Amsterdam from 1996 and
devoted herself to the medium of film. Her artistic practice consists of videos and installations where music
and sound are extremely important. Emotions, narrative and power, ideas which are often associated to
documentary, can be found in her works. Manon de Boer explores memory, reminiscences, the
construction of identity and all the cerebral phenomena linked to her favourite sources of investigation:
the perception of time. Many of her films and sound pieces record people prompting them to remember
past experiences, through their own words or through the words or memories of others. “I see people I
love as endless worlds to explore and slowly get to know.” These works synthesize everything whilst
desynchronising several time zones. The combination of the real time of the exhibition space, the fictive
time of the projected film and the psychic time of the spectator are implicated mentally and emotionally in
her troubling installations.
The Sound of Music piece Attica is linked to a piece of music by the composer Frédéric Riewski which is
named after a New York prison famous for a dramatic mutiny. In September 1971, the prisoners rebelled
against their miserable living conditions and took their guards hostage. With the intervention of the
security forces, there were several victims. The work is based on this violent political and historical true
story but also on a poem and the personal accounts of two prisoners whose stories influenced Frédéric
Riewski. In the de Boer’s piece an orchestra plays Riewski’s theme tune whilst the camera slowly moves
360° around the musicians sat facing a mirror. This circular movement with a sensation of infinite
repetition echoing the melodious structure of the piece, once more perturbs our temporal perception.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Think of a past experience – is there music you associate with this experience?
You could make a recording and play it on top of the track you have selected.
London Born artist Jeremy Deller graduated from the Courtauld Institute of Art and went on to become an
important artist of the Young British art scene and in 2004 successful won the prestigious Turner Prize.
Deller is also a musician and integrates his musical experience into his thinking and artistic practice. He
delves into the pop-rock and folk culture, uses the codes of fans-clubs and often organises his own
exhibitions like Sex, Drugs & Rock and Roll in San Francisco in 1995. Appropriation is a recurrent theme in
his work. Deller is also extremely focussed on collaboration and participation “a good collaboration is like
going on a long journey without a map, never knowing quite where you will end up.”
Two pieces by Deller are included in the Sound of Music exhibition; History of the World, 1996 is made of a
blackboard on which the history of English brass band music and house music is ‘explained’. This diagram,
which is similar to a brainstorm or a mind map, also resembles the diagrams of George Maciunas on the
Fluxus movement. With an element of self-ridicule addressed to theorists, Jeremy Deller traces possible
connections, suggesting ideas for writing a history of music. Initially, this work was made as the record
sleeve for Acid Brass.
The album makes an unlikely connection between popular traditions and mass culture since the brass
band (the Williams Fairey band) plays the standards of acid house (KLF, 808 State or Derrick May). The
second exhibited video piece Performance Fairey’s Band, 1997 gives an idea of the strange sounds
produced by the association of these two types of music; Jeremy Deller has thought of this parallel in social
terms and compares the music of old England to that of the nineties. Indeed, these two musical traditions
both formed, at different times, factors of social cohesion for the working classes of the North.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Listen to a selection of tracks from a variety of music genres. Perhaps find out what your parents or
teachers used to listen to. Compare these musical genres, making a diagram like Jeremy Deller’s to
Play one of your favourite music tracks, currently in the charts, on an alternative instrument. Does it
change the way you feel about the song? How important are the instruments to a piece of music? How do
they colour the sound?
Performance Fairey’s Band, 1997 History of the World, 1997
Ellen Cantor & John Cussans
Ellen Cantor & John Cussans both live and work in London. Recognised American artist Ellen Cantor initially
worked with drawing before devoting herself to video. Her current research demonstrates her interest in
cultural identity, popular myths and social ideals. Her production questions the limits between the real and
the imaginary, romanticism and pornography, public and private, the tragic and the humorous. Erasing
the utopia that cradled her childhood with dreams of a society ruled by democracy and perfect love, each
of her works gives a realistic view of the human condition. Presented as a continuous, existential battle,
this image of society differentiates from the misleading appearance of the ‘American Way of Life’.
John Cussans is an art writer, art critic and is in charge of the theory course at Chelsea College of Art and
Design. Cussans is the founding member of Bughouse: an international artists’ group that produces
multimedia and video events, performances and sound creations.
Ellen Cantor and John Cussans’ video piece Whitby Weekender Dance Lessons was filmed at the festival
‘Togetherness Northern Soul Weekender’ in Whitby on the North East coast. This dance event began at the
end of the sixties following the new versions of old recordings of soul by a DJ in the North of England. This
music, which many identified with, became an emblem for the working classes of the region. Gradually,
they invented their dance, a mix of disco, ballet and kung fu. For Cantor and Cussans, the idea was to bring
in new images far from the idealised and nostalgic clichés of this soul scene. This documentary-like video
gives us a much less glamorous contemporary image but reveals the passion which pushes these amateurs
to devote themselves to soul music.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Within the class find people who can dance in different ways e.g. ballet, street dance, break dancing,
modern. Choreograph dances to music different to that you would normally associate with these dance
Does it change the way you feel about the music?
Does it change the way you feel about the dance?
How many different types of music and dance does the class enjoy?
Make a diagram (like Jeremy Deller’s History of the World) to make comparisons and draw links between
these different genres.
Do the artists in this exhibition work to music? Do you think the pace/mood of that music reflected in
their work? As an experiment, create work listening to different types of music. Consider music with
different moods and tempos, then compare results. The work undertaken doesn’t necessarily need to
be music or art related – it could be a series of maths questions.
How does different music make you feel? Make some artwork in response to different types of music.
Ask yourself: Could an audience recognise which emotion was behind each piece without knowing
which music was listened to during creation of each work?
You could hold a school art event to sell your work to raise money for the school.
Scott King trained as a graphic designer he later went on to become the art director of a variety of style
magazines such as the famous ‘ID’ and ‘Sleazenation’. He also participated in founding the political anti-
newspaper CRASH! With his parodies of the media exploring the methods of advertising, he uses their
strategies of representation in subversive fashion. His works switch values and attempt to roughly put our
chaotic world in order. King is also known for his design of the record sleeves for Morrissey and the group
Pet Shop Boys. He is now established as an independent artist and has internationally exhibited several
times in London, New York and in major European galleries.
Four works of King’s feature in the Sound of Music which demonstrate the link with music in his work. The
Empire of the Fall, 2005 is a white map of the world on which some countries have been coloured in red.
Two zones stand out. It can be interpreted in a number of ways. The columns of text in the captions indicate
the places and dates where the Manchester group ‘The Fall’ have played. What might look like a worrying
geopolitical map is a parody of strategic representation, linked to the performances of a rock group which
spreads all over the world like a virus or an ideology.
The Empire of the Fall’, 2005
The two works titled Joy Division, 1999 and The Rolling Stones, 1999 belong to the same series in which King
demonstrates his interest in rock music. Through a white background (the setting), black dots (figures) and
a distinct black line (the stage) the pieces show the rock group in front of their crowd. Much like old video
games figures are represented by individual dots. In these works the figures are aligned geometrically which
is not at all how a crowd would be at a rock concert. The date and venue which defines the works leaves
nothing to chance. The singer of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, committed suicide after a concert on 2 May 1980.
On September 12 1969, the Hell’s Angels, put in charge of security by the Rolling Stones for a huge open-air
concert, beat up a black spectator who died in the event. This drama was a turning point in the group’s
The deaths of Ian Curtis, Richard Edwards and Kurt Cobain, and thus their sudden disappearance from the
music scene turned them into icons.
The Rolling Stones, 12 September 1969 Joy Division, 2 May 1980, High Hall
Altamont Raceway, Livermore, USA, 1999 The University of Birmingham England, 1999
Scott King’s work Into the Black, 2000 draws up an epitaph honouring the lives of the deceased in black
graphics which is as cold as a marketing report. It presents raw data such as the number of records sold, the
sentimental inspiration of the songs, the place and methods chosen to ‘leave the stage’ and proposes
hypothetical links between the tragic deaths of the artists and the show-business industry in which they
were in. The title of the triptych refers to a song by Neil Young, where the chorus takes up a premonitory
phrase “it’s better to burn out than to fade away”. This quotation was written by Kurt Cobain before he
Into the Black, 2000
The work entitled Elvis, 2003 immediately evokes a personality of poplar culture: American rock singer Elvis
Presley. Elvis, though now deceased, is still a music icon who personifies both success and decline and his
life still continues to fascinate the world. King’s work is compiled of numerous black squares on to a white
background. A distinct round back dot can be identified in the lower left and corner which our attention is
drawn instinctively to. It might be a nod to Op’Art or Minimalism but here King is referring to an anecdote
linked to the singer of “Happy Mondays.” The singer suffered from obesity, he performed in a white belt suit
and compares himself to Elvis Presley.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Create your own map which illustrates certain facts about your favourite band e.g. where they have
performed in the UK/world, where do the band members come from?
Display this map in your art/music studio. Does it look out of place? Is it an artwork?
Artist Johanna Billing is one of Sweden’s most important and renowned artists. Alongside her Make it
Happen record label Billing is also extremely involved in various other music-clubs and music tours. As
an artist her work investigates situations that have emerged out of a given socio-geographical
context. Her works show different groups of people interacting with each other which demonstrate a
reading of wider culture.
In the Sound of Music Johanna Billing exhibits her 2005 film installation Magical World. The film
captures a real event of a Croatian children’s choir singing the 1968 American pop song by Sidney
Barnes. Billing worked with a group of children from a free after-school music club based in a rundown
cultural centre in Dubrava, a suburb in the Croatian capital Zagreb. In Magical World images of the
children rehearsing the song – a melancholy description of transformation – are mixed with views of
their suburban surroundings. Singing in another language, the children concentrate hard on the lyrics.
The video gives us a glimpse of a relatively young country in transition. Though the film material Billing
uses is real, careful editing creates a kind of fictional work which the artist defines as “something
Make it Happen, 2005
New York artist Meredyth Sparks is known for her pop-rock imagery relating to 1970s and 1980s rock
music. Her works derived from raw material she finds in magazines, newspapers and record sleeves. She
makes new compositions from digitalised photographs, which are reworked and reprinted. She creates
dynamic works by applying strips of aluminium and glitter cut out in the form of voids or parts of the body
on top of selected found prints of music artists such as Blondie, David Bowie and The Who. This method of
collage only reveals what Sparks believes to be the most important parts of the image.
The two untitled works in the Sound of Music belong to the series We’re treating each other like strangers.
This photographic frieze shows the portraits and concerts of David Bowie, The Who, The Rolling Stones,
Iggy Pop and the Clash. The cold elegance of these photographs, as if lacerated by the sharp, metallic
forms, express the creative energy taken from destruction, which is specific to the punk-rock aesthetic.
Both seductive and blasphemous, they play on the process of idolatry.
Untitled (The Who I), 2006 Untitled (New Order IV), 2006
British artist Ryan Gander studied in Manchester and then went on to the Jan Van Eyck Academy in
Maastricht before joining the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Gander works in a variety of media and on a
range of practices making sculpture, for which he was awarded the Prix de Rome in 2003, performances,
visual installations and publications. In their formal simplicity and their economy of means, his works use
the everyday to reveal artistic issues. Close to conceptualism without being devoid of subjectivity, they try
to ‘make the invisible, visible’. Furthermore, he draws on notions of fact and fiction.
A fictional situation is literally made to take place. Even if the artist is also the manager of a real group, Perl
Gray on the other hand is simply pure invention. With Gander’s imagination and the help of designers Paul
Elliman, Will Holder and Stuart Bailey the image is created. Thanks to a review by Bill Drummond (member
of the famous group KLF), the magazine Time Out even published an article. This installation ‘Pearl Gray’,
2003 highlights the mechanisms of the transmission of art whilst questioning the value of the exhibition as a
mode of consecration.
Ideas for discussion and activity
Create your own band: what is their music like? Create an album cover. Write a review of one of their
How do you know what is real? How much is real about the bands you enjoy? How do you know?
Pearl Gray, 2003
The works of contemporary London artist Babak Ghazi reflect the values and the identity of Western
societies. Ghazi was influenced by the thinking of cultural critic Slavoj Zizek, his view is critical and ironic.
According to Zizek capitalism, consumerism, liberalism and individualism hide a profound lack of
freedom. Composed of atypical materials, Ghazi’s installations and collages make direct reference to
the cultural icons of the seventies and eighties. In their representation of the pop aesthetic, modernism
or again the arrival of new information technology, they then become symbols of the acknowledgement
Simultaneously minimal sculpture, nostalgic memorabilia and kitsch, Heroes, 2007 is made up of three
cubes of Plexiglas, a record cover of David Bowie, a paper statuette of the singer Grace Jones, a silver
disco wig and a microphone placed over the top of the cubes. Similarly to recent works, Babak Ghazi
makes a tribute to the glam-rock movement. But, by giving it museum status, he also underlines the
paradoxical side of this culture around identity which wavers between the refusal to conform and the
economics of the star system.
Ideas for discussion and activity
What three objects would you place in a museum to represent you/the class? Why?
Why do you think the objects in Heroes were chosen?
What do you think these objects say about us as the viewer? What do they say about the musicians?
Think about where you would usually see these objects. What is the usual context of them in this work? Do
you feel differently about these objects when they are displayed in this way?
A Tribute to Steven Parrino
The black box which contains 32 artists’ books is a collective tribute to artist Steven Parrino who died in
2005. This limited edition of 250 copies was accompanied by an exhibition presenting original drawings.
John M.Armleder, founder of the 1969 Swiss Ecart group that was close to the Fluxus spirit and whose
publishing house has become a true institution, and Amy Granat and Mai-Thu Perret are at the start of the
project. They chose the format of American comic books and the title Black Noise, and decided to offer this
framework to the different artists, friends, or collaborators of Steven Parrino. The result is extremely
spontaneous and each volume is original.
Even if certain booklets more than others are strongly linked to the personality of Parrion they all remind
us of his aesthetics, and notably that of American comic strips. His radical work mixed references to the
history of modern art and to urban sub-cultures. It also has strong connections to the punk-rock
movement of which he was one of the instigators.
A piece by artist David Blandy also features alongside the Sound of Music exhibition works. The exhibition
presents Blandy’s installation Crossroads (2009). The artist previously exhibited work in Turner
Contemporary’s previous exhibition Far West.
Crossroads has a strong connection with music through film production. Blandy began the work in order to
investigate the mythology surrounding the legendary blues musician Robert Johnson. Johnson has 29
recorded songs and there are only two known photographs of him. It is said that Johnson reputedly sold his
soul to the devil at the crossroads hence the title of the work.
The film installation is set in the heat of the Mississippi Delta and follows a white man with a guitar (the
man represents Robert Johnson) on his journey to the Crossroads to find his lost soul. Crossroads also
captures the portrait of the landscape still deeply, though not officially, segregated. Whilst a haunting
soundtrack of slide guitar plays one sees the figure wandering the landscape looking for a genuine Blues
experience, picking guitar on porches and walking dusty roads. Undermining this romantic vision is the
appearance of an inverted Minstrel, an alter-ego who haunts the journey. On his journey to find an
authentic blues experience the wandering musician also begins to look deeper into the self for
reconciliation with a plundered culture.
Crossroads is an Arts Council England National Touring Commission initiated by Spike Island and supported
by 176, Zabludowicz Collection
Other themes to explore
Science, Maths, History and Astronomy
As with art, music can also contain snapshots of past times. Composers have often directly quoted
music from the past, such as Charles Ives with American marches, dance music, hymns and popular
tunes interweaved within his work.
Listen to the opening track to the film score for Deliverance which quotes the well known tune
‘Yankee Doodle Dandee’. Workshop a song and interweave a second tune within it. Try including
different tunes. Which ones work the best? Perform, listen & discuss.
In the early twentieth Century, the group of Italian artists calling themselves ‘Futurists’ tried to
capture the experience of speed in their art; The Futurist Manifesto reads : “ We declare that the
world’s splendour has been enriched by a new beauty, the beauty of speed”
e.g. Abstract Speed – the Car has Passed (1913) by Futurist Artist Giacomo Balla, which uses geometric
shapes to convey the blur of a speeding car.
e.g. Short Ride in a Fast Machine’ by American Composer John Adams. In this piece Adams attempts
to capture his experience of being taken for a ride in his friend’s new car. The work demonstrates
man’s fascination with, and love of, speed which continues to this day.
Create a composition about speed, either a train, car, an animal running – imagine what it would be
like to be Lewis Hamilton!
There’s a rhythm in everything in life, everything has a beat. Music can reflect this or play with this,
e.g. Philip Glass in George Lucas’ film, ‘Powaqqatsi’ juxtaposes slow moving images with up tempo
score, lending the images pace, enhanced meaning and purpose.
Watch the opening sequence to this film without sound. Create a score, perform this alongside the
opening. Now watch the sequence with the original score. How do the two compare? Discuss.
Astronomy & History: the music of the spheres
There have been early treatises on the theory of linking planets to musical intervals – to sum up – the
three basic approaches to a theoretical concept of the music of the spheres is that we have either the
diatonic or the chromatic scale, or we have selected intervals forming a double octave; these three
different systems are reflected by three different points of view whether approached from acoustics,
astronomy or astrology.
Mediaeval writers distinguished three kinds of music – music mundane, musica humana
& musica instrumentalis of which only the latter refers to what we regard as music today. In these
treatises, music mundane is about the music of the spheres while music humana refers to the
connection or correspondence between the music of the spheres and the human reactions to music.
Ways into composition: reinterpretation
Listen to Radiohead’s song Paranoid Android and then listen to the same song reinterpreted by Brad
Mehldau to reflect ideas by the artist Meredyth Sparks. Discuss these works and consider ideas for
reinvention of other known songs. Create a reinterpretation of a song of your choice thinking about
instrumentation, adding new sections, taking out sections, changes in harmony, rhythm, melody,
dynamics, keeping the thread and identity of the original song.
Exploring theories of Sound and colour: Colour theories/connections with
music and colour
Timbre = the quality or colour of sound, the difference between tones of the same pitch produced on
Chromatic scale – comes from the word ‘chroma’ meaning colour – an ascending or descending scale
Links between music and colour came about with Isaac Newton’s discovery of the refraction of white
light in the 17th century and his decision to denote seven colours in association with the seven notes of
the musical scale. He commented to the Royal Society in 1675: “possibly colour may be distinguished
into its principle degrees red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and deep violet on the same ground
that sound within an eighth is graduated into tones.
Colour associations are frequent in Oriental music cultures such as India, China etc. and composers
have long been fascinated with music and colour, seen for example in the work of the Russian
composers: Rimsky Korsakov (1844 – 1908) who interpreted the keys of C,D,A,F & F# (all major) as
white, yellow, rosy, green and greyish green respectively and Scriabin(1872 – 1915) who interpreted
the above as red, yellow, green, red and bright blue. Colours have also been associated with entire
works such as ‘The Flying Dutchman’: green, ‘Tannhauser’: blue. Certain composers have been
associated with colours: Mozart – blue, Chopin – green, Beethoven – black.
Arthur Bliss ‘s Colour Symphony (1922) is made up of movements, each of which represent the
association of a special colour e.g. purple: royalty, pageantry and death.
Listen to composers continuing to be inspired by colour, e.g. Michael Torke b.1961.
Create artwork whilst listening to Torke’s Color Music(1985 – 91) which includes the pieces Ecstatic
Orange, Yellow Pages & Bright Blue Music.
Exploring the idea of colour relating to pitch & La Monte Young – create artwork in response to
listening to just single pitches at a time.
Explore the idea of composing with just one note – listening to Ligeti’s In A for piano solo and create
compositions inspired by both La Monte Young and Ligeti.
Montaron records the sounds of the sleeping girl; Messiaen recorded birdsong and interpreted their
sounds in his works. He approached this scientifically, attempting to represent as accurately as
possible what he heard. He uses harmony to represent the colours of the sky, plumage and the
environment. What Messiaen calls the ‘second mode of limited transposition’ he states ‘turns through
certain violets, certain blues and violet purple – while mode no. 3 corresponds to an orange with tints
of red and black, touches of gold and a milky white with iridescent reflections like opals.’
Listen to examples of Messiaen’s interpretations of birdsong in his piece ‘Catalogue d’Oiseaux’ and
Go out into your environment – what sounds can you hear? How could you interpret them musically?
How could you interpret the sounds visually? What aural and visual colours would you use? Categorise
instruments into colours and create a ‘colour’ piece.
Planning Your Visit
We encourage teachers and group leaders to bring their groups and plan how to spend their time
independently. Sessions can be run in conjunction with drawing activities around the town and
harbour. We advise visiting teachers to view the exhibition prior to a school visit. You can bring dry
materials to make drawings of the work on display and the generous space allows students to work on
a large scale. Our audience development staff are happy to answer any concerns you may have
regarding delivery of a gallery session.
Visits are free, but please book your visit to avoid clashes with other groups.
Turner Contemporary group booking contact information
School, college and university bookings
Lucy Kirke, Audience Development Assistant
Community and other group bookings
Esther Collins, Audience Development Assistant
Alternatively you can speak to a member of gallery staff who will take your details and a member of
the audience development team will get back to you to confirm your visit arrangements.
During your visit
Your group is very welcome in the gallery. To protect the artwork we ask that your group is aware of,
and adhere to, our gallery guidelines:
• Please do not bring food or drink into the gallery
• Photography is not permitted in the gallery unless agreed in advance.
• Please do not touch the artwork unless signs invite you to do so. Even clean fingers can damage
• Please do not run in the gallery space.
• Please respect the needs of other gallery visitors.
The behaviour of the pupils/participants is the responsibility of the group leaders not gallery staff.
Cancelling your visit
If you are unable to visit the gallery on the date specified above please call to let us know with as
much noticed as possible.
Turner Contemporary Project Space
53-57 High Street, Margate, CT9 1DX
Stone Pier, Margate, CT9 1HB
Drop- off and Parking
• Turner Contemporary Project Space
There is on- street meter parking outside the front of the Project Space. The nearest car park is at
Somerfield on College Walk. If you are coming in a coach or minibus you can drop off your group on
Margate High Street outside the gallery space.
• Droit House
If you choose to start your visit at Droit House there is a small amount of pay parking on the Harbour
Arm. The nearest Car Park is in Trinity Square. If you are coming in a coach or minibus you can drop off
your group outside the gallery space.
There are toilets on the first floor of the Project Space which are not for use by the general public but
can be used for booked group visits. There are signs to the bathrooms upstairs but please make sure
children are always accompanied to use the toilets. Regrettably the toilets are not accessible to
wheelchair users. We recognise this is not an ideal situation but have use of this venue for a limited
time and are unable to make structural changes to the building.
There is a toilet in Droit House which is not for use by the general public but can be used for booked
Open Tuesday – Sunday
(Bank Holiday Mondays and Good Friday)
We hope you enjoy your visit and are always very pleased to receive feedback. Please complete the
short evaluation form below and return to us at email@example.com or to 17-18 The
Parade, Margate, Kent, CT9 1EY. Thank you.
We would appreciate it if you could spare a few minutes to complete this form and return it to us at
Turner Contemporary, 17-18 The Parade, Margate, Kent, CT9 1EY or firstname.lastname@example.org
1. How useful did you find the teachers’ notes? (please circle)
very useful useful satisfactory not useful
2. How did you use this resource?
• To support your lesson planning? YES NO (please circle)
• To give directly to students? YES NO (please circle)
• In another way? Please provide further detail
3. Have you used Turner Contemporary Teachers’ Notes before? If so, which exhibitions did they
4. How much time would you usually be able to spend reading teachers’ notes?
• Was there too much to read? YES NO (please circle)
5. What age are your students/group?
6. What subject are your students studying/what group are they part of?
7. Do you have any suggestions for future development of teachers’ notes or any other resources?
8. Your details (optional)
Please tick this box if you would like to receive further information from Turner Contemporary about
forthcoming exhibitions and events
Thank you for completing this questionnaire.
Please return it to us at:
Turner Contemporary, 17-18 The Parade, Margate, Kent, CT9 1EY or email@example.com, or
drop it into the gallery on your next visit.