Soundpainting Program

Soundpainting Program

"The Art of Live Composition"

What is Soundpainting?

Soundpainting is the universal multidisciplinary live composing sign language. Presently the language comprises more than 1500 gestures that are signed by the Soundpainter (composer) to indicate the type of material desired of the performers. The creation of the composition is realized, by the Soundpainter, through the parameters of each set of signed gestures. Walter Thompson, who created the Soundpainting language in 1974 in Woodstock, NY, will be in residence at Round Top starting on June 3, 2019 through June 16, 2019.

How the Soundpainting live composing sign language works:

The Soundpainter (the composer) standing in front of the group, similar to a conductor, communicates a series of phrases using hand and body gestures, which indicate specific and/or aleatoric material to be performed by the group. The Soundpainter develops the responses of the performers, molding and shaping them into the composition, then signs another series of gestures, a phrase, and continues in this process of composing the piece in the moment.


Round Top Program

During this period, voluntary participants (around 12 players) will forsake the regular chamber music program to work together as a dedicated group.

The applicants to the 2019 Round Top Festival Institute have to respond "Yes" to the question "Would you be willing to participate in the Soundpainting Program?" if they are interested.

The members of the Soundpainting Orchestra will learn approximately 75 signs over the course of the two weeks. The gestures are easy to learn and perform.

Note: Young Artists interested in participating in the Soundpainting Orchestra are not required to have any previous knowledge of improvisation.


Starting on June 17,2019, the members of the Soundpainting program will be enrolled in chamber music groups through the remainder of the 6-week session.

Round Top Soundpainting Schedule

All sessions on the stage of the Festival Concert Hall

First Week

Introduction to the gestures language and practice.
Members of the Soundpainting Orchestra will learn approximately 75 signs during the two weeks.

Tuesday June 4, 2019 (8:30 pm to 10:30 pm)
Wednesday June 5, 2019 (8:30 pm to 10:30 pm)
Thursday June 6, 2019 (8:30 pm to 10:30 pm)
Friday June 7, 2019 (8:30 pm to 10:30 pm)

Second Week

Review and Live Composing practice

Tuesday June 11, 2019 (8:30 pm to 10:30 pm)
Wednesday June 12, 2019 (8:30 pm to 10:30pm)
Thursday June 13, 2019 (8:30 pm to 10:30 pm)
Friday June 14 at 7:30 pm: Public performance