Friday, 1 March 2013

Challenge of Music 2013 -- the reveal

The tricky part about the Challenge of Music is to pick just one piece of music. One piece, out of all the great music in the world. This time the theme was instrumental music, but it doesn't really narrow it down very much as I enjoy instrumental music of all kinds, from classical to contemporary electronica. In the end I settled for one thing, a specific sound I adore. The sound of an instrument that goes plink.

I love instruments that go plink, be it a celesta (that lovely instrument you can hear e.g. in Tjajkovskij's The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy), glockenspiel, music box, harp, clock or synth. There's a little bit of magic in that sound. Like a beam of moonlight, a lone star shining in the evening sky, dewdrops shimmering on a spider web or gentle snowfall at night (you know the kind that is silent, but still makes that unmistakable sound). Or the "true" magic you find in the more poetic fantasy stories I read.

Now, The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy is lovely, but it was ruled out as so many associate it with Fantasia (which I've never seen by the way). So what could I find instead? Wintergatan. I actually discovered this group after signing up for the challenge and starting to look around for my challenge piece. I began to think about my favourite instrumental music, both old and new, when Detektivbyrån popped up in my head. Sadly, the band dissolved in 2010, but listening to one of their songs on YouTube I read a comment mentioning on of the band member's new project -- and thus I found Wintergatan. And my chosen piece of music, Sommarfågel (= Summer Bird).

Wintergatan, which means the Milky Way in swedish, is a new band by Martin Molin. This time he's joined by David Zandén, Evelina Hägglund och Marcus Sjöberg. They use instruments like glockenspiel, analog synthesizer, music box, vibraphone, drums, accordion, theremin, vibraphone and many more. Their first album will be out in May so at the moment you can only listen to/buy their double single Sommarfågel & Starmachine2000. You can read more about on their website.

Below, I've also added the video for the second piece of the double single, Starmachine2000. Not for the song, though nice, but because you can see how the music box and the punched cards with the melodies were made after the end of the song.

That's my inspiration. So where did I go with it? Well, first I have to admit that it turned out to be trickier than I thought to make something inspired by Sommarfågel. Maybe it was my trying to hard, maybe it was the fact that the song has several passages, that differ somewhat from each other. In the end, the part that actually captured me the most was the more serene music box melody after the song and introduction of the band (you didn't stop listening when Martin started talking, did you?). I also focused on the sound of the music box, which is at the heart of the melody in Sommarfågel, even when the other instruments take over.

I wish I had the supplies to make something of the first idea that popped into my head -- and that might also be the part that made the challenge hard, having to abandon something I felt immediately -- as it was all about the mechanical motions, clockwork parts and old-fashioned handicraft that's behind music boxes and musical automata like the Peacock Clock at the Ermitage or the Silver Swan. Or a simple modern dancing ballerina jewellery box for that matter.

Alas, my focus had to change and instead I kept focusing on that idea of magic that I find in the type of instruments mentioned initially. Be it real fairytale magic or illusions to create a sense of magic in everyday life. Magic and starlight.

As the challenge was not only about creating jewellery, I thought of other things to do and at first it resulted in a series of digital art doodles:

The I made one more yesterday.

For the last image I used a picture of a frozen brook with a few added stars from the software, but the "stars" in the other pictures are actually grit on a greenhouse window pane. If you're a follower of my blog you know I love my moody greenhouse window photos.

I also made a bracelet last minute, after scrapping several ideas. Not the piece I'm most proud of -- wanted to use other materials, like matte blackened wire, but had to make due with what I had -- and it's going to be redone later, but I wanted to create something a bit more hands-on. Not that the challenge demanded it, but because that's what I wanted to do from the beginning. And that means showing you something I'm not pleased with -- or maybe I should say something I'm not finished with. Because I do think it could be the base of something good. It's not a bad piece of finished jewellery, it's a WIP that can show it's full potential yet.

Here, the feeling of magic and starlight is to be found in the (on the photo hard-to-spot) light rose satin crystals and silver-lined transprent grey mini drops nestled among the peacock keshi pearls and aubergine silk cord, which represent the faster passages and the other instruments.

Funny how I throughout settled for dark colours when I don't actually perceive the music as dark. I find Sommarfågel to be a positive, upbeat piece of music. Maybe the darkness is just a way to make the glimmering shards (i.e. the music box melody) emerge more clearly. Maybe the fast pace of some of the passages felt heavy and that translated into darkness, eventhough it doesn't sound that dark.


If you've managed to get through this verbose post -- thank you for doing that! -- then you might also want to check out the rest of the challenge participants:

Erin Prais-Hintz -- Hostess
Alenka Obid
Ali McCarthy
Alicia Marinache
Amy Severino
Amy Grass
Carolyn Lawson
Cece Cormier
Cynthia Riggs
 Ema Kilroy (bowed out)
Emanda Johnson
 Emma Todd
Erin Kenny
Evelyn Shelby
Evie and Beth McCord
 Gerd Andersson
Holly Westfall
 Jennifer Justman
 Jenny Davies-Reazor
 Jess Green
Judy Campbell
 Karla Morgan
Kay Thomerson (bowed out)
Kristina Johansson   -- you are here!
Lola Surwillo
Lynn White
(bowed out)
Malin de Koning
Mallory Hoffman
Mary K McGraw
Melissa Meman
(bowed out)
Melissa Trudinger
 Michelle Escano
Michelle Bourbonniere
Michelle Heim
(bowed out)
Michelle Mach
 Molly Alexander
Molly Schaller
(bowed out)
Monique Urquhart
Niky Sayers
Pam Farren
Rebecca Anderson
 Sally Russick
Sharon Palac
(bowed out)
Sharon Driscoll
Susan Kennedy
Tari Kahrs
Tracy Stillman
(bowed out)
Veralynne Malone

PS! If the links don't work, you will find a list (with direct links to the reveal posts as Erin visits each blog) at Erin's blog post.


  1. This challenge is so exciting. Not only will there be material creations, but also ethereal music. I love the music you've chosen. The bracelet and the pictures capture the darkness in it. It'd be really interesting to see what you do with the bracelet, if you're going to work further on it. I think it is beautiful and I'd love to wear it as is.

    You write about something I'm hopelessly in love with:automata, old and new. And I also love music boxes, the Balinese Gamellan music, the Finnish that plinks. Guess if I loved your post? Milka

  2. I just love your interpretation of this music - it's a stunning bracelet!

  3. Lovely interpretation of the music. Wintergatan is an exciting acquaintance. Looking at the bracelet on my phone, I can't see the crystals. I can imagine the magic of the stars/crystals twinkling far away in the darkness of the night. I love the braided effect, the music moving forward through the universe. The pics are stunning.

  4. Wow, I have learned so much with this hop on the different types of music and groups and interpretations....I love your art work. I can so relate to it! Great bracelet, I can see the silkiness in the beads and the stars...great job!

  5. Thanks for introducing me to music that I usually do not listen to. I love that at first your created something non jewelry and then made a bracelet. The pearls really sparkle and reflect the music well.

  6. I love your description of the plunking sounds as magical starlight, etc. And that punch card music box was awesome! Thanks for sharing your WIP. You may not be thrilled - although the bracelet looks good - but you never know where this challenge will take you after today!

  7. Sommarfågel the most unique selection I have heard on the Hop, Kristina. I was fascinated as a child by music boxes (I even took a few apart... my parents were not impressed LOL). That section showing the creation of the music box and paper punch card was very cool!

    I love the dramatic aspect of the bracelet you created. I often put pieces aside, take them apart later and remix, sort of like in music. Your reflection about the darkness of the keshi reminds me that we can only see stars at night when it is dark; they are present during the day but we are blind to them. We actually need the dark to perceive the light.

    Thank you for sharing a complex music I hadn't yet heard!

  8. Interesting music, beautiful pics and a fab bracelet.

  9. Great digital work. The bracelet is very organic and fits the music too. Thanks for the intro to some cool music too.

  10. You make beautiful works of art!!!! Love them all!!!

  11. Thanks for sharing so much of your process as you came to your design. I love the digital doodles, and your bracelet is just lovely - finished as far as I'm concerned! Beautiful job!

    :) Molly

  12. Thank you for sharing your thoughts that lead to the creation of the beautiful bracelet. I liked the music very much. I've heard wonderful pieces of music and seem fabulous creations because of this challenge. Hopefully I'll be participating next time. I was fascinated by your wanting to create something mechanical, that reminds of music boxes, musical automata etc. The automata you showed us are just pure magic! And yet not. They were made by man. I'm sure you'll be able to create your own musical automaton or music box soon. Give it a try!

  13. Love, love, love your digital art - fantastic! Your bracelet is gorgeous. You may think it is WIP but I think it is gorgeous!

  14. Thank you for sharing the "making of" video with your piece. I love your bracelet and dark brown doesn't remind me of dark sombre emotions, it reminds me of the smooth Ecstasy of rich dark CHOCOLATE!

  15. I like the digital art. How cool that you used greenhouse windows! It's interesting that you approached this challenge in a similar way that I did--making something besides jewelry for a first step. Those peacock pearls are absolutely stunning and I'm sure they'll look great in your final piece.

  16. What beautifuly plicky music. I too was picturing the little mechanism that belongs in a music box - I had it alone, not in a jewelry box as a child. I do enjoy your digital art, a star for each plink it almost feels like. I think the bracelet looks pretty darn good and done to me, so pretty

  17. Your digital works of art, along with your bracelet, are fantastic! Your second and third images are quite stunning ... I'm always mesmerized by the colors of a night sky!

  18. I think that is a stunning bit of music! I know what you mean about the wonder of 'plink. The music seems littered with a thousand glittering stars, just like your greenhouse dirt skies! But I think it is also nicely reflected in the shimmering play of light on the pearls of your bracelet :)

  19. I love your Challenge post and the bracelet you created inspired by Sommarfågel. You say it is a WIP. I think it is lovely, but you know something is missing. I hope you'll be satisfied with the final bracelet. I love your creativity with the not-so-clean window pane. Anna

  20. I love the way you were inspired by the music of Sommarfagel. Your bracelet isn't dark at all! The light reflects & shines off the pearls to create an image of the music. When I listened to the two YouTube links, it was easy to see how you were moved in your "art doodles" as well.

    Great job, I look forward to seeing other projects you create!
    Thank you for stopping by my blog, Africa was exciting!

  21. Thank you so much for all your comments! I've really enjoyed this hop, both the music and the creations. I'm glad to hear that you liked my creations -- and that so many of you liked the music I wanted to share with you. Thank you!

  22. What a wonderful piece! I have one of my two year olds on my lap and he immediately stopped what he was doing and started swaying his head to the music. That's when you know something is really magical! And I love your bracelet!!! The colors are gorgeous:)

  23. Oh I love your creations, all of them! I think I know what you mean about the music... not feeling dark but standing out as... stars in the dark... or something like that. Wonderful post, thank you so much for sharing!


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