An eclipse is a flirtatious dance between the sun, moon, and earth.  Graphing the movements of solar and lunar eclipses, sunrise/sunset, and moonrise/moonset for Argentina in 2009, I transcribed the rhythms into music. I was delighted that the resulting composition for flute, guitar, violin, bandoneon, piano, and bass sounded to me like an avant-garde Argentine tango.

Project:  Tango Eclipse:  Argentina

Tango Eclipse: Argentina - Tina Seligman
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The process also became a dance between visual and musical elements.  Collaged images for the eclipses, suns, and moons were cropped from digitally manipulated photographs of a puddle. Sound wave patterns of the flute became elements of the composition, and the motif of cut squares references the holes found in player piano rolls. The braille music notation offers another layer of language. 

 

To transcribe the patterns into music, I created a 24 hour “ruler” with octaves of a 12-note chromatic scale.  After plotting the positions of the sun, moon, and eclipses, I drew lines which translated into the lengths of violin, guitar, and bass fiddle strings. 

 

To hear the music, you can scan the QR code above.  This is an ongoing project to study eclipse patterns in other locations with instruments from those cultures.

Project with Viewer Participation

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Flushing Town Hall is a not-for-profit organization which receives major support from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Mayor Bill de Blasio; Queens Borough President Melinda Katz; New York State Assembly Members Ron Kim, Ed Braunstein and Nily Rozic; New York City Council, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Queens Delegation, and Council Members Costa Constantinides, Daniel Dromm, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, Peter Koo, Karen Koslowitz, and Paul A. Vallone; Howard Gilman Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Con Edison and New York Community Bank Foundation.