My latest interest is Adolf Wölfli, an amazing Swiss artist who lived in a mental institution and produced books and drawings that often included musical notation. He was an inspiration for composer Per Nørgård. As so many times before with self-taught artists, I was taken by the drawings' striking atmospheres. And I started to write music.
Songs, this time. Simple songs. Naïve melodies, strange Ivesian chords, clipped forms, drifting meters.
Naïveté is key here. Modern music is often about surface ambiguity underset by intense structural logic. What I get from outsider art is the opposite -- simple, even "naïve" surfaces that belie structural ambiguities and subtleties.
(The drawings that grace the popular Rider-Waite-Smith tarot deck, though not an example of outsider art, draw their magnetism from the same formula.)
So in my Wölfli Songs the melodies are simple and short, the sort of things you might hear someone casually humming or whistling on the street. It's what lies beneath them that is strange, mysterious, inscrutable.
The wonderfully evocative and whimsical titles are cribbed from his drawings:
2. London-North, 1911
3. Poli-Chinelle, the Plum Queen