The Score Is Not the Music


Exhibition on view until: Sunday, May 28, 2017

The maxim ‘the score is not the music’ suggests that music notation printed on a page is a poor substitute for the sound of the music itself. Printed notes are sterile, an alphabet that allows a musician to produce the right pitches, but which must be interpreted and expanded to be meaningful. If the score—a visual tool—lacks some necessary quality of the music, how else might music be visually conveyed that might better capture its essence?”

—Melinda Steffy

Steffy’s current work looks to answer this question by re-interpreting music as color patterns, exploring ideas of translation, how music theory and color theory intersect, and what it’s like to have a song stuck in your head. In this series of work, she has matched the 12 notes of the chromatic scale with 12 hues on a color wheel. Using mathematical constructs like grids and pie charts, she translates masterworks by composers J.S. Bach and Béla Bartók into vibrant color patterns. The music, usually time-based and heard in sequence, becomes spatial, able to be seen all at once. Unexpected patterns emerge, revealing the complexity inherent in the music.

Steffy received an MFA in Painting from The University of the Arts and a BA from Eastern Mennonite University. Her artwork has been on display at Rowan University, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Crane Arts, Fringe Wilmington, Sam Quinn Gallery, Villanova University, Finlandia University, Delaware Center for Contemporary Art, Lancaster Museum of Art, Micro Museum, and Stamford Art Association, among others.