Sergei Rachmaninoff is widely regarded as one of the greatest musicians of all time. His work has been covered and sampled by innumerable artists ranging from Frank Sinatra to hip-hop performers Master fuol and the Wu-Syndicate.
And now somebody is adapting his compositions yet again, weaving his music into… pillow covers.
BeatWoven is a London based avant-garde textile company that has developed a software that translates sound into geometric patterns that are sewn into fabrics.
As they state on their site, “Through innovation, woven pattern and form is reinvented, fabric aesthetic is challenged and music, fashion and lifestyle are linked. Each couture fabric creates a conversational art piece ready to contribute to an interior landscape of curiosity and emotional connection.”
It initially sounds like something straight out of ‘Sprockets’, Mike Myers’ hilarious Saturday Night Live satire of the art world.
But the concept is actually quite interesting.
BeatWoven was commissioned by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 2015 to create a textile piece for the royal festival hall. The project was to adapt Piano Concerto No.2 for their Festival of Love celebration at the Southbank Centre.
The musical piece was featured in David Lean’s ‘Brief Encounter’ from 1945, so a special screening was also to be held in the same celebration to honour the film’s 70th anniversary. BeatWoven had to design textiles that evoked both the film and Rachmaninoff’s work.
Nadia-Anne Ricketts, BeatWoven’s founder, explained to Cool Hunting, “For the Rachmaninoff piece, it was a challenge as I was designing within the parameters of the colors of the interior space, as well as the film ‘Brief Encounter’ and Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No.2, I felt I needed to encapsulate it all and was challenged by the contrast of the austerity of the film, and the huge amounts of emotion in the music.
“I therefore chose an orange-toned red; a poppy silk as the main patterned color with a steel yarn and an antique copper to help represent the multitude of steam engine scenes in the movie. I mixed these with classic black and white wool due to its era of 1945, and granite grey silks. I took the pattern created by the audio, edited it and prepared it ready for weaving.”
A virtuoso pianist that bossed the instrument like nobody before him – it’s said that his fingers were so long and strong he could cover chords C E and G C G with just his left hand – Rachmaninov’s work is so influential you don’t even need to be a classical music buff to have heard him.
Like Muse? They used a sample of his stuff in their 2001 single ‘Space Dementia’.
His compositions also appear in such popular films as Spider-Man 3 and Groundhog Day. Remember that epic scene where Michael Keaton flies over Broadway in Birdman? Yep, that’s Rachmaninoff.
And who can forget the opening scene from Bridget Jones Diary? Yep, ‘All by Myself’ is an adaptation of the second movement of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor.
I wonder what the master himself would’ve thought of being adapted into power ballads and pillows?