Dave Soldier

Celtic Knotwork

version from October 12, 2012

here's an outline of using traditional oscillations to make Celtic knotwork by traditional methods: and making music from it

this is one of the simplest knots

Step 1 start with equally spaced dots

which sounds like this

(these links should play mp3s)

Step 2 is to draw a wave between every two points

repeat this for each pair of two points: since you can send the wave in two directions, up or down, on each point there are a total of four waves

which sounds like this

Step 3 is to cut these threads where you like: in this case I cut them on every fourth crossing point: and then tie those cut ends to their neighbor

which sounds like this

Step 4 is to follow each strand: each one, when it crosses should go under a strand it crosses, then over the next strand, then under the next, then over the next... (sometimes you have to deviate: I did this with three strands) and increase the width of the strands as desired

which sounds like this

Step 5 is to remove the guides: this may be the simplest knot of this kind, but used in artwork

so the entire construction of this knot sounds like this:

Construction of a simple Celtic Knot #1

here is the score, for any collection of instruments


1. make an "app" with a good software writer that will allow people to learn this artistic tradition, and play the music

Note that even very complex Celtic knots, keys, and spirals, for instance in the Book of Kells, use the same steps as shown above: equisdistant points, connections above and below particular numbers of points, breaking and retying, looping under and over, and filling in. Obviously, the music will become far more complex, but will still use oscillations as a building block.

As a guide, I am using a classic book by George Bain, Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction, that was used to teach Irish and Scots schoolchildren to make these patterns.

Also note there is already a pretty good Celtic Knot design free program on the web at http://hypatiasoft.pagesperso-orange.fr/

we can use it as a basis, but add the ability to play music during the design, and make it more didactic. It will be a way to learn both the method of a traditional design based on oscillations (the patterns were meant to reflect the continuity of life and spirit, and probably came to the Celts from Asia and the Middle East) and explore making a music based on oscillations.

2. A live concert, that should also be recorded and shown as part of the display, in which local musicians, both traditional and classical, follow an artist's live construction of the drawings projected as a score while the steps are made to make these designs.