Jonathan Chenette
Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Music
Vassar College
124 Raymond Av.
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604-0004

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Onomatopoeia (2010) for flute, oboe, clarinet, violin, and cello, is a musical response to a 60-foot-long, 11-inch-wide scroll painting of the same name by Santa Fe artist Signe Stuart. The artist experienced synesthesia as she painted – the colors and shapes evoking aural sensations that the music, in part, aims to recreate. Sometimes the relationships between scroll and music are specific, as in the ochre background and spiky lines at one end of the scroll corresponding to oscillating background figures and brittle foreground chords as the music begins. Other relationships between music and scroll are more general, as in their shared vibrancy of color and energy. The music is in five movements, corresponding roughly to twelve-foot sections of the scroll. Onomatopoeia premiered at The Albuquerque Museum on November 14, 2010, performed by the ensemble Chatter in conjunction with the exhibition “Sensory Crossovers: Synesthesia in American Art." A second performance, by the Cygnus Ensemble and friends, took place as part of Vassar College's Modfest on January 28, 2011.

"Onomatopoeia" by Signe Stuart, scroll section

"Onomatopoeia", 60-foot scroll painting by Signe Stuart, South Dakota Art Museum exhibition

created by Jonathan Chenette, 02/28/11
last modified, 08/08/11