Concert for Maison Seirēn


The lighthouse has captured our imagination throughout history as comforting yet mysterious, aiming at safety yet also symbolizing adventure and despair. The piece is particularly interested in the rhythmic and repeating pulse of the light signal and the ways it could be thought of as a visual translation of the siren, an ambiguous figure of the sea, simultaneously evoking danger, trepidation and seduction.

Concert for Maison Seirēn focuses on the repetitive movement of the lighthouse lamp (light) as a visual voice: the musical seduction of the siren’s luring voice is here validated through the use of enchanting light. The piece is a wall installation of 12 diamond-shaped individual photographs, edited and arranged according to compositional principles of serialism as outlined by the composer Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951).

The Austrian composer, leading the Second Viennese School, was interested in creating serial music creating the twelve-tone technique in 1923, consciously using an ordered series of all twelve notes in the chromatic scale for a structural purpose.

This structural organizing principle is a means of ensuring that all twelve notes are sounded as often as one another in a piece of music while preventing the emphasis of any one note: all 12 notes are thus given equal importance. As such, twelve-tone music is atonal, and according to Schoenberg describes serialism as a means of organizing and structuring more coherently modes of repetition in that the music is not based on harmonic-contrapuntal constraints as in tonal music, lacking a tonal centre or key.

Concert for Maison Seirēn is based on both the development of musical as well as photographic language. It offers a play between visual and oral structural modes. It becomes a carefully composed display of visual voices: sequenced photographs ascending and descending on the wall like notes on a musical sheet.

The images are accompanied by a piece of music, composed by Neil Codling. Neil has been songwriter and keyboard player for the alternative rock group Suede since 1995 and has extensive knowledge of Schoenberg’s theories. Neil has translated the visual piece of 12 diamond-shaped into a musical piece for the piano and violin applying Arnold Schoenberg's twelve-tone technique.