S_V_H Wildfire first image

I am ending 2022 with the first major MusicBox for 2023, Wildfire. Here is the YouTube version of this 1975 release sung by Michael Martin Murphy:

I carefully chose the melody I may will spend a month completing. The decision to paint Wildfire began with, despite not being a favorite, I have consistently liked the music. What held this song back over the years were the lyrics about a lost horse. Although I understand others’ connection to horses, I never achieve a fluid feeling when riding them. Basically, I was a team player, hanging on for dear life, hoping the leader would not giddy-up. What helped this choice of music was a different understanding of its lyrics after reading the YouTube comments. What closed the deal to paint is its exceptional opening piano, the accompanying sound of a flute, and my past confidence working with these instruments. Also, this music’s chorus would easily fit my six-foot length goal, my mood and my current skill level in creating cover music.

Image One shows the constructed music for this project.

Going Deeper:

After deciding on a song for a music box, my current routine is to compose a draft of my cover music. I then chose what the artwork part will be sampling. The actual putting together of the music box begins with the choice of a support for the artwork. With Wildfire, I have flipped around the process. I have built and painted my notes first, giving little concern for their attachment to the artwork. I went from fitting the length of all the musical pieces to a support, to constructing the music and only then figuring out what the background will be for the music. But there is a problem. I should have known better.

The background support is more complicated than creating the music. Cutting out the music from the wood is time consuming, but predictable, requiring supplies that are easily available locally. With my current music boxes using stretched canvases (to bring down my large extra inventory) not all sizes do I now have, or are available locally. That means, for example, if I need to order a canvas for the background or seek a solution to a construction issue, that could cause a delay in progress. Since I only work on one project at a time, timing my work schedule is important. That is a major reason, along with the challenge of design and preparing the background, that it is prudent that I design the background early in the project. That is what I am going to return to for next project and beyond.

First background image on Sunday.

Second background image on Monday.

Although not overly happy, this is what I am going with on Tuesday. This look does not break any new ground. The length of about 60 inches is also smaller than I would like. For the music choice I choose only the short chorus to sample, which meant a lower number of notes, lessoning the artworks length. Knowing that I should have cut larger size notes, for example, 3 inches or more. Those sizes would have required greater space and a longer background. But I did not. I started this project by staying with my trend, which is 2 3/4 sized notes. What disappoints me about these choices is how successful my music box music turned out. This is the first time the cover music (which is still seen as a final draft) feels more innovative than the artwork. Also, the look of a six-foot artwork would have made the music even stronger. But I did not. Because of copyright issues, here are 30 seconds of the cover of Wildfire.

Wildfire draft music middle 30 second cut.


After reading over this blog entry I grabbed two 11×14 inch canvases. I will make these the speaker boxes. The length of this project is now 70 inches. Just what I wanted.

Scott Von Holzen