Musical Anatomy

Music, sound, breath, and instruments can connect us to each other powerfully yet invisibly. This art visually explores these connections between ephemeral music and corporeal bodies.


Ira Arca

Ira Arca

Graphite on bristol vellum, 18 x 24″ (image 17 x 23″), 2015

Interconnected Andean panpipes (also called antara/siku/zampoña). This music employs the hocketing technique: a single melody emerges from interconnected notes of different players. One row of pipes is called “ira” and the other is “arca”.


Drawing Series 1 (2009)

Musical instruments are prosthetics for body parts we never had. They can extend and transform voice, gesture, and exhalation. The mystery of their forms is matched by the invisible oddity of their sounds. But what if the prosthetics were unnecessary? This series imagines bodies with musical anatomies, referencing musicians from a variety of genres and traditions.

This series was on exhibit at CounterPULSE in San Francisco for an extended run from April 6 to May 11, 2009.

Adolphus

Adolphus

Graphite on bristol vellum, 18 x 24″

An homage to Adolphe Sax, inventor of the saxophone, and Eric Dolphy, jazz multi-instrumentalist. Dolphy played alto sax, oboe, bass clarinet, and flute. He had a mysterious lump on his forehead which was lanced shortly before his death at 36. Dolphy died because of untreated diabetes, but some say he died due to the loss of his third eye. His last words on his last recording were, “When you hear music, after it’s over, it’s gone, in the air. You can never capture it again.”


Astor and Pollux

Astor & Pollux

Graphite on bristol vellum, 24 x 18″

Conjoined twins connected at the bandoneon (a free-reed instrument similar to the accordion and concertina). The faces are modeled after Astor Piazzolla, the Argentine tango composer and bandoneon player.


Dzavadzimouth

Dzavadzimouth

Graphite on bristol vellum, 15 x 18″

The mbira dzavadzimu is an African instrument with metal keys plucked by the thumbs and index fingers. Large hollow calabash gourds are used as resonators. Bottle caps or snail shells are attached to create a buzzing sound. In religious ceremonies of the Shona people, mbira music is used to attract ancestral spirits. This figure is an homage to the Zimbabwean singer and mbira player, Stella Chiweshe.


SATB

SATB

Graphite on bristol vellum, 14 x 21″

Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass, a four-part harmony. Somewhat reminiscent of the album cover for Funkadelic’s Maggot Brain.


Mr Tambourine Man

Mr. Tambourine Man

Graphite on bristol vellum, 10 x 15″

Inspired by the song by Bob Dylan. This character’s eyes are also based on Dylan’s. A time-lapse video of the drawing is here.


Ocarinose

Ocarinose

Graphite on bristol vellum, 12 x 10″

A many-nostriled ocarina. Ear and eyebrows courtesy of Frank Zappa.


Chanters

Chanters

Graphite on paper, 8.5 x 12″

Extensions similar to the drones and chanters of bagpipes. The face is based on an early 1900s mugshot.


Bassoonares

Bassoonares

Graphite on paper, 8.5 x 12″

The throat and nostril cavities extend into bassoon-like tubes. The face is based on an early 1900s mugshot.


Contra

Contra

Graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″

Grandpapa was a contrabassoon (see Prokofiev, “Peter & The Wolf”).


Fanfare

Fanfare

Graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″

A one-man brass section.


Jawharp

Jawharp

Graphite on bristol vellum, 8 x 10″

Harmonica conveniently located inside the jaw. An homage to bluesman Howlin’ Wolf.


Lady Sheng

Lady Sheng

Graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″

The sheng is a Chinese mouth-blown free reed instrument, often made of bamboo pipes.


Spiral Trumpette

Spiral Trumpette

Graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″

Inspired by the natural (valveless) trumpet.


Silence Is The Question

Silence Is The Question

Graphite on bristol vellum, 14 x 14″

The fermata (also called the birdseye) is a musical symbol indicating that a rest or note be held – a floating elongation of silence or sound. “Silence Is The Question” is also the name of a composition by The Bad Plus.