Gryllus for Marcus Garvey – I, II, and III, 2016
Three downloadable music pieces for violin, piano, and pre-recorded sounds
May 3, 2016 – May 31, 2016
“Gryllus for Marcus Garvey” is a three-part trompe-l’oreille (a trick to the ear), a subtle music composition based on the chirping of various cricket species that should have inhabited the area of the park originally, particularly the Gryllus pennsylvanicus (fall field cricket), the Gryllus firmus (sand field cricket), and the Gryllus veletis (spring field cricket). The work consists of three movements composed for violin, piano, and pre-recorded sounds, and inspired by Josquin des Prez’s El Grillo, a sixteenth-century choral song that praises crickets for their music. Each movement for Gryllus corresponds to one line from des Prez’s chanson: I – ‘El grillo è buon cantore’ (The cricket is a good singer); II – ‘Che tiene longo verso’ (Who can hold a long note); III – ‘Dalle beve grillo canta!’ (Come on, drink, cricket, sing!). Park goers are asked to download the music by scanning a QR code and follow the suggested path to stroll through the park while listening to the piece.
By including different species, the artist intends to subtly reinsert the richness of animal music, which offers an array of different sounds, textures, pitches, and tonalities that are usually dismissed or simply go unheard, to the soundscape of the park. Due to its particular location, Marcus Garvey Park has lost most of its natural bug music; unlike larger parks in Manhattan such as Central Park, Riverside, or Inwood, these natural sounds are rarely heard in Marcus Garvey Park. Singing insects, such as crickets and katydids, chirp only when they feel “safe,” which usually means quietness, stillness and darkness; thus, the liveliness of Marcus Garvey Park, albeit beneficial to the neighborhood, might not necessarily be a safe environment for these creatures. Concepts of safety and security, then, become blurry when considering a habitat that is shared by different species–more street lighting might produce a feeling of safety in humans, but it might pose a threat for the members of Gryllus genera–crickets. This work is part of a larger project the artist is currently developing in which he transforms and scores different chirping into music notation for various instruments.
Born in Mexico City, Rodrigo is a musician, interdisciplinary artist and art historian. He is interested in the bridging of the artistic, the scientific and the technological. In his work, he explores those aspects of life that abide at the outskirts of science and are, usually, disregarded by it. He seeks to work on projects that require collaboration across different disciplines so he often reaches out to scientists, engineers, technologists, philosophers, and the like. He studied violin and music theory in Mexico City, and has developed artistic projects through exhibitions and residencies in Mexico City, Estonia, Lithuania, New Mexico and New York. He currently lives in New York.