The sounds of spring

Tom Gauld’s New Yorker cover for April 16th:

Cover story for 4/16/18: Tom Gauld’s “Soundtrack to Spring” by Françoise Muhly on 4/9/18:

The London-based cartoonist Tom Gauld’s latest cover, “Soundtrack to Spring,” announces the arrival — however belated — of a new season in the city. It’s also The New Yorker’s first musical cover. “I can remember very clearly when the idea came to me,” Gauld said. “I was sitting in my daughter’s violin lesson, listening to her play, when I noticed that there were birds singing in the trees outside. It made for a very pleasant moment, and I thought it would be interesting to try and capture it in a cartoon by using musical notes within speech bubbles.”

The image was also meant as something of a corrective. “People often talk of how noisy big cities are, but they usually mean unpleasant, disturbing noises,” Gauld continued. “I wanted this image to be about some of the nicer sounds you hear, especially in the springtime.” In his early sketches, Gauld had only vague notions of the music he’d like to include, and “placeholder nonsense” in the speech bubbles. “If, like me, you’re musically illiterate, then the notes give a suggestion of what’s going on sonically,” he said. “But I also wanted the scores to make sense to those who can read music.”

To achieve that goal, he enlisted the help of Fergus McIntosh, a fact checker at the magazine and a veteran chorister. Together, the duo struck upon a repertoire that includes Vivaldi’s “Spring”; Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring”; Beethoven’s “Spring Sonata”; the folk song “One Morning in Spring”; and birdsong from the American robin, which tends to appear in springtime after local migration [plus a doorbell]. Once the notation was fine-tuned, the scores were played by various friends of the magazine, including Julia Rothchild on the violin, Peter Kolkay on the bassoon, and McIntosh himself, on vocals.

On the site, you can hover over the notes to hear the song.

One Response to “The sounds of spring”

  1. Don Peabody Says:

    Very cool. It reminds me of sitting on the lawn outside the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music practice hall.

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