The London-based cartoonist Tom Gauld’s latest cover, “Soundtrack to Spring,” announces the arrival—however belated—of a new season in the city. It’s also The New Yorker’s first musical cover. “I can remember very clearly when the idea came to me,” Gauld said. “I was sitting in my daughter’s violin lesson, listening to her play, when I noticed that there were birds singing in the trees outside. It made for a very pleasant moment, and I thought it would be interesting to try and capture it in a cartoon by using musical notes within speech bubbles.”
The image was also meant as something of a corrective. “People often talk of how noisy big cities are, but they usually mean unpleasant, disturbing noises,” Gauld continued. “I wanted this image to be about some of the nicer sounds you hear, especially in the springtime.” In his early sketches, Gauld had only vague notions of the music he’d like to include, and “placeholder nonsense” in the speech bubbles. “If, like me, you’re musically illiterate, then the notes give a suggestion of what’s going on sonically,” he said. “But I also wanted the scores to make sense to those who can read music.”
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