Book Art
Catch the Baby

Wood Notes Wild

Wood Notes Wild: Notations of Bird Music is a forty page hand-painted, lettered and bound manuscript. Completed by the artist in 1996, the work celebrates the tension between nature’s unruly cacophony of bird song and a 19th century bird lover’s ecstatic commitment to lash that sound to a system of notes and measures. The manuscript is based on an 1892 published edition of Wood Notes Wild: Notations of Bird Music by Simeon Pease Cheney. After a distinguished career as a singing teacher in rural Vermont and a composer of popular music, Cheney devoted himself in his final years to listening to birdsong and transcribing it into musical notation. These musical passages were accompanied by eloquent observations of the birds and their music.

Each folio in the artist’s manuscript is 18” x 24”, calligraphy over painted surfaces of wheat paste and acrylic. The one-of-a-kind manuscript was purchased by the Rochester Institute of Technology, for inclusion in the Melbert B. Cary Collection, one of the country’s foremost showcases of the graphic arts (fine printing, calligraphy, bookbinding and illustration). It has been shown at the Corcoran Gallery, receiving the Pyramid Atlantic “Curator’s Choice” award, and at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

A hand-made, limited boxed edition of all forty manuscript pages is currently under construction by the artist. This version will include a biographical booklet about the author, Simeon Cheney, as well as a CD recording of each of the birdsongs depicted in the artist’s book.

To see some sample pages from Wood Notes Wild, click on the links below.

Dealer: Joshua Heller Rare Books.

Wood Notes Wild in Case
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