Paul Naylor – An ode to 4/4

3 minute read

Please tell us why Music & Movement interests you and how your work relates to the theme:

No doubt a common answer to this question is going to be: “…I’ve been listening to music my whole life.” and in that my answer is no different. I grew up with two parents who had incredible record collections. I was a child during the 70’s, a teen in the 80’s, young adult in the 90’s.

I believe I was extremely fortunate to have experienced music on multiple formats…from vinyl (which we’d always get at least one or two new albums at birthdays and Christmas), endless taping off the radio, creating mixtapes on double cassette decks, to minidisc, cd and now mp3. Music is more than just an interest – I can’t honestly imagine a life without it.

Up until my late 20’s music was always for pleasure. When I moved to the UK in the mid 90’s I was already into electronic music… but the Liverpool club scene from ’96 exposed me to a whole new world. My education in proper techno and house music started in earnest and I quickly discovered how useful that type of music was for working to. The move to Liverpool coincided with my first real job working as an artist in the games industry. I learned music was and is the perfect accompaniment to tasks that involve repetitive processes, which is quite often in games work. Headphones on, queue up a 2-hour mix or a movie soundtrack and go.

Music by proxy is also integral to my artwork, and my abstractions are very much defined by what I’m listening to. My first series of minimalist drawings were created as I was picking myself up after burning out, creatively and personally, from those years in games. The music and my move back towards more traditional mediums were my therapy.

The artwork I’m including here is a homage to electronic music in general and more importantly the Four Four beat.


IMAGE 1: "Four-Four" 2018. Pen, Ink and Letraset on Heavyweight paper. A1 (59x84cm)
IMAGE 1: “Four-Four” 2018. Pen, Ink and Letraset on Heavyweight paper. A1 (59x84cm)


In the early days of listening to .mp3’s on a computer (PC) there were two popular pieces of software you’d use for music. Windows Media Player by default and my favourite, WinAmp. I remember how cool it was that you could personalise the look of it by choosing from hundreds of user-generated skins. If, like me, you were lucky to be working on high-end workstations and with a dual-monitor setup – you could also run any number of their plugin “Visualisations” on one screen while working on the other. The visualisations were procedurally generated graphics that would react in time (arguably) to the music you had playing.

Four-Four is my homage to these old visualisations. My image consists of 4 “beats” that together form the peaks and troughs of an Oscilloscope – but expanded on and abstracted. The darker, heavier line work represents the bass frequencies, the lighter line work representing the treble.

It’s pure visual aesthetic and when looking at it you should be able to hear it go BOOM (tish) BOOM (tish) BOOM (tish) BOOM!. Loop it in your head until you move on. Either way, the forms and shapes that came about in that piece weren’t planned – but completely of the moment.



IMAGE 2: "Four-One (Isolated)" 2018. Pen and Ink on Heavyweight paper. A1 sized.
IMAGE 2: “Four-One (Isolated)” 2018. Pen and Ink on Heavyweight paper. A1 sized.


Four-One (Isolated) is an example of what I do when I find a series of shapes or an overall form that I like from a previous work. I’ll “isolate” it and give its own space. So Four-One is one of the beats from my Four-Four piece – isolated. In the case of Four One, I’ve done a series and even created a Limited Edition series of colourways.

Music is the opportunity to forget everything and just be in the moment. To be completely in the present, experiencing the sounds and memories the music produces or the euphoria it creates as a by-product, is arguably one of the best feelings we can have as human beings – and I’m all the better for it.

Paul Bahr-Naylor
New Brighton, Wirral. UK.

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