Random thoughts about sound #1: The Sense of Hearing by Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel

As a sound designer, I was amazed by all the references in Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel’s painting called The Sense of Hearing, including things that we take for granted in our daily life.

The Hearing, Jan Brueghel the Elder & Peter Paul Rubens

This painting that is now in the Prado, Madrid is part of a series that shows each of the five senses. In this one, we can see many instruments of the period, such as the Flemish harpsichord, a drum, a trumpet, a trombone, a cornetto, amongst others.

Also, the title of the musical score reveals that it is a six-part madrigal dedicated to Prince Pietro Philippi Albert and to Princess Isabella. The rifle is also included as a sound-producing element, as well as the several musical clocks on the background.

More sound references include the talking and singing birds and the members of the musical group are entertaining themselves. The stag is also the symbol for this sense due to its keen hearing. Finally, we can relate the walls to the concert of the gods and Orpheus taming the wild animals with his music.

When I look at this painting, I can’t help to imagine all of the sounds present in it and how would that ambient be, but also about the story of all these elements and how they came to be part of Brueghel’s work.

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