Musical Anatomy

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.

Musical Anatomy was on exhibit at CounterPULSE in San Francisco for an extended run from April 6 to May 11, 2009. Prints are available for all pieces from Redbubble, Fine Art America and Society6.



Adolphus
graphite on bristol vellum, 18 x 24″
Prints available

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 & Pollux
graphite on bristol vellum, 24 x 18″
Prints available

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
graphite on bristol vellum, 15 x 18″
Prints available

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
graphite on bristol vellum, 14 x 21″
Prints available

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






Mr. Tambourine Man
graphite on bristol vellum, 10 x 15″
Prints available

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


Ocarinose
graphite on bristol vellum, 12 x 10″
Prints available

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



Chanters
graphite on paper, 8.5 x 12″
Prints available

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


Bassoonares
graphite on paper, 8.5 x 12″
Prints available

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



Contra
graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″
Prints available

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



Fanfare
graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″
Prints available

A one-man brass section.


Jawharp
graphite on bristol vellum, 8 x 10″
Prints available

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



Lady Sheng
graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″
Prints available

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



Spiral Trumpette
graphite on bristol vellum,
9 x 22.5″
Prints available

Inspired by the natural (valveless) trumpet.



Silence Is The Question
graphite on bristol vellum, 14 x 14″
Prints available

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.