Monday, April 7, 2008

Art Imitates Music

I just saw this fascinating article in New Scientist:

Boléro: 'Beautiful symptom of a terrible disease'

The painting above, called Unravelling Boléro, is a measure-by-measure visual representation of Ravel's Boléro. The scientist-turned-artist who painted it, Anne Adams, was suffering from the early stages of a rare neurological disease called primary progressive aphasia. The parts of her brain responsible for speech were slowly degenerating, leaving her eventually unable to speak at all. In its early stages this disease sometimes causes a blurring of the distinctions between the different senses. Victims can also develop repetitive behaviors. Accordingly the painting, like the music, slowly builds to its climax through many variations of the theme. Remarkably, some scientists think that Ravel may also have been a victim of primary progressive aphasia. This could explain the structure of the piece that so captivated Adams. Tragically, the disease eventually cost Anne Adams her life.

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