Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Please check out my interview on THE JAZZ SESSION w/Jason Crane

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Frida Khalo Effect: Redefining the Artistic Selfie

The Frida Khalo Effect is a term I‘ve coined that speaks to creative works in which the subject appears in numerous representations. Examples of this can be seen in movies, paintings, cartoons, and music. The Mexican-born surrealist painter Frida Khalo personified this to the most extreme degree. It's not uncommon for Khalo to appear in one of her paintings in numerous representations. She is the sole subject--the protagonist, the antagonist, and all the players in between. Self-exploitation is her brand. Mind you, much of her fascination with this idea results from her having had to spend time in isolation, first from having contracted polio as a child and then having to be bedridden, months at a time due to back and hip injuries that resulted when a wooden bus that she was riding in was hit by a train--injuries that plagued her most of her life. As Khalo put it, she painted what was around her, and mostly what she saw was herself.

On my new recording, I've also experimented with this idea of self-exploitation, the aural selfie, if you will, through the use of over-dubbing. On Sopranoville, the soprano appears in a wide range of configurations from duos to quindectets, as well as textures: flutter tonguing, squawks, multi-phonics, Doppler Effects, you name it.

In the world of painting, self-portraits are considered one of the most difficult to paint. Similarly, in jazz, solo recordings are the most difficult--particularly for wind players. And this is how I've used the work of Frida Khalo as a source of inspiration. She not only created self-portraits, she redefined the idea by creating portraits with multiple selves. And my approach to Sopranoville was similar in that I not only took on the challenge but I also heavily explored the idea of multiple selves, along with redefining the roles of those multiple selves.

I'm a huge fan of taking that which is a novelty and making it into an art form. Jackson Pollack did something similarly with his drip style. He was not the first experiment with these alternative methods of applying paint to canvasses, but he was the first to go as deeply into it as he did.

The uniqueness of the music sample I'm using is three-fold: One, its "Giant Steps" stripped of its rhythmic framework. So the rhythm that you hear is the natural rhythm that is heard when all of the notes of the melody are played in succession with no rhythmic specificity. Two, this piece features the interplay between three sopranos, thus creating what I call the Frida Khalo Effect. Third, the soprano sound is being filtered through an acoustic sound altering phenomenon known as sympathetic resonance, which explains the lush reverb heard.

It's not apparent to everyone that this is "Giant Steps," but it is.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the track and feel free to listen to the entire CD if you get a chance. There are a lot of interesting things going on.



  1. Interesting article. I was really curious about the music but unfortunately the YouTube video is not available.

  2. Mihai - Send me your address in the Contact Form and I'll send you a copy.

    - S


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