Synesthetic Color Response

Art 260 / Greg Clayton

Music as Image, Image as Music

Express non-color, through color.
Create a color composition which is a response to an expression or experience in a sensory system other than vision.

Synesthesia Intro Page

Goals

 

In this project you are working to conceive and create a visual response to an audible experience — you are translating music into imagery and visual form, particularly color.

 

Synesthesia involves an experience by one sensory system while encountering stimuli through another sensory system. (links 1 2 3 4 ) For instance, some synesthetes experience colors when they hear sounds or music. Others see distinct colors when they see letters and numbers.

Wassily Kandinsky sometimes painted in response to music, aiming to create a visual counterpart to the sounds, instruments, melodies and rhythms in the musical composition. His images were non-objective — not related to what we see in nature — but attempted a kind of objective reference to what he heard. (Lyrical; Impression III; Composition VI: Composition LX; Composition X )

Sean Day is a composer who "synesthetically 'sees' colors corresponding to musical timbres; each instrument has its specific color."*
"When pianist Laura Rosser performs, she hears more than sounds. She hears colors -- each note has its own associated hue." *

 

Interactive Color/Sound:

There are many devices these days that respond to music to create light shows or even computer screen-savers. The entire history of music videos involves varied efforts to express music though imagery and motion -- and motion pictures, videos and television use music to reinforce, and often to establish, onscreen mood, attitude and content. Each month new artists, technologies and artworks expand the bounds of integrated sound, image and viewer.

Try out this Arcade Fire interactive music video in your Chrome browser.
(your mouse or your phone/tablet can alter imagery in various ways throughout the video.)

Ellie Goulding/Lights — An Interactive Music Experience by Hello Enjoy
Try this (mildly) interactive synesthetic landscape coordinated with music.

(it begins slow and gradually becomes a fairly active scene. Try: move your mouse around.)

Search for interactive synesthetic projects online

Project Process


A) Find a piece of music that moves you -- not just your current favorite, but some piece of music that every now and then, you want to go back and listen to.
Consider music that was composed before you were born — something that has stood the test of time.
Explore pieces of music that do not rely on lyrics for their power. While there's nothing wrong with lyrics, lyrics involve poetry — and words are simply a different medium than music itself.

B) Take time to listen to your music– just listen.
No distractions.
Just you and your headphones.
Listen repeatedly.
Try listening with your eyes closed or in a dark room.
With nothing there to see, see what you see.
What colors, motion or forms do you "play" while the music is playing?

C) Open your sketchpad and respond.
Have some colored pencils or watercolor pencils, pastels…pencils and or charcoal.
The more mark-making options nearby, the better. Try to find the marks, colors and arrangements that express what you are hearing…and feeling.
Don’t settle for your first marks…keep trying.

Fill at least three separate pages of your sketchbook, listening to the music during at least three different sessions.
See how your compositions vary. Note how they are similar.

There is some speculation that we are all synesthetic, but not all of us have nurtured our ability to experience the connections among our senses.
In this project we are, in a way, trying to translate musical language into visual language — like translating English into French, it takes some practice, but it is learnable. Unlike translating English to French, there are very few rules about right translations and wrong translations.

D) Develop your color response — refine your design.
Refine your sketches, colors and marks. Use your knowledge of color to explore alternatives in hue, in chroma and in value.
Play with juxtapositions — explore how combinations of color side-by-side alter mood and quality.
Play with varied proportions — explore how small versus large masses of color change effect. See how many small daubs of color behave differently than large fields of a color.
Refine your image until it is more and more right to the music.

Consider mixing media — this does NOT have to be a straight painting, per se. Use color to express, but feel free to propose any media.

*** Share your Music: Bring an MP3, a YouTube link, CD or other means of sharing your music with the class. That is, arrange for us to be able to listen to your music.

 

Project Requirements


Plan a larger scale, developed response to your music— usually a painting, but mixed media or even sculpture, video, photos or annimate are options.

Area/Size should be at least 24”x24”.
That's 576 square inches (height X width). Other sizes of the same area include 22"x26", 20"x29", 18”x32”, 16"x36", 12”x48”. Find the proportions (shape) that is right for your concept. You may also create several smaller pieces that combine into one larger series. (for instance, 4 —12"x12" designs, or 6 — 8"x12" designs.)

You may propose any medium that allows you adequate control and range of color and form.  Present your sketches and concept for discussion and approval to the instructor.

If you have skill in video or animation, you may create a response in either of those media. Duration minimum 1:30. (ideally, continue the video/animation for at least the duration of the music.)

 

Samples

Here are some links to music identifiied by some of us.
Send in your links to the music that's inspiring your synesthetic imagery by email.
In your email, include the info noted below, in each column. If at all possible, include a link to a page that plays your song ... YouTube is the most typical choice.
For "Comments", tell us whatever you can about why you chose this piece — what does it do for you, or to you? What memories or feelings does the music evoke?

Below are the Color Theory course supplies and text. I may tweak the supply list before class, but this will be close enough, even if I do so. Note that there are a few links to online supply sources -- though you're welcome to get your supplies wherever you like. Let me know if you have questions. A260 Supplies: http://www.harding.edu/gclayton/Color/Policies/A260CsSupplies.html A260 Text: http://www.harding.edu/gclayton/Color/Policies/A260_CourseText.html See you soon. GLCBelow are the Color Theory course supplies and text. I may tweak the supply list before class, but this will be close enough, even if I do so. Note that there are a few links to online supply sources -- though you're welcome to get your supplies wherever you like. Let me know if you have questions. A260 Supplies: http://www.harding.edu/gclayton/Color/Policies/A260CsSupplies.html A260 Text: http://www.harding.edu/gclayton/Color/Policies/A260_CourseText.html See you soon. GLCBelow are the Color Theory course supplies and text. I may tweak the supply list before class, but this will be close enough, even if I do so. Note that there are a few links to online supply sources -- though you're welcome to get your supplies wherever you like. Let me know if you have questions. A260 Supplies: http://www.harding.edu/gclayton/Color/Policies/A260CsSupplies.html A260 Text: http://www.harding.edu/gclayton/Color/Policies/A260_CourseText.html See you soon. GLC
Submitter Music
(Title, Artist, approx. date, performer...whatever identifying info you can find.)
Comments

 

   

 

   

Shelby

Clair de Lune | Good Vibrations  

Leah

There Will Be Time | Turning Out | So Will I  

Emily

Colorado  

Lauren B

Lullaby | Colors | La vie en Rose | Goldfinger | Defector  

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

 

   

Tori

Adagio in G Minor  
Macailah I Met You When I Was 18 - playlist  
Alaina Claire de Lune  
Jenna

Tame Impala - Pati

 
Ian Uru Soundtrack
 
Maggie  "The Night We Met" by Lord Huron and Pheobe Bridges

 

 

   
Blue Planet    
River Flows in You "Just This" by Birdtalker Chopin Nocturne Op.48 No.1 By Arthur Rubinstein
"Sailboat" by Ben Rector "Movement" by Hozier Last Samurai - Small Measure of Peace
BAKKUSHAN-Alles War Aus Gold Celtic Thunder- Now We Are Free Lana Del Rey - Terrence Loves You
Khenany - Cambita Amadeus - The Abduction from the Seraglio Simon and Garfunkel's Scarborough Fair
Red - Gone TopKillaz - HideHo Disasterpiece - FEZ OST - Nocturne
Frank Ocean - Moon River Enya - Broadica Khalid - Better
Mélanie Laurent - Début

Corinne Bailey Rae - Trouble Sleeping
Tycho-Elegy

Celtic Woman- Nella Fantasia
Lux Aurumque by Eric Whitacre Dawn by Dario Marianelli Lovely the Band - Broken
Bach - Invention La La Land soundtrack - Epilogue Tyler the Creator - Cherry Bomb
City and Colour
Life In Technicolor
Lover of the Light
Amelie - La Valse D'Amelie (Piano) |
Louie Armstrong - La Vie en Rose
Matt Simons - Catch & Release (Deepend remix)
Billy Joel - Piano Man.
Tez Cadey seve remix Bass Boosted
Nighttime Hunger by Overcoats
Sweet Dreams by BØRNS
Seeing Stars by BØRNS
Hozier - In a Week  Thunder by Imagine Dragons  Alt-J - Bloodflood pt. 1
Joy by Iron & Wine Coming Home/Leon Bridges Whitacre
The Less I Know the Better Claude Debussy - Suite Bergamasque - Clair de Lune Me and your mama by Childish Gambino
Secret Love Song - Little Mix - Justerini  Turning Page by Sleeping at Last Down by Marian Hill
Good night for dancing - Josh Abbott Band Violin Cover of Hello by Adele performed by Rhett Price | alt Explosive | Round-Table Revival Imogen Heap - Hide And Seek
Woods by Bon Iver Stand By Your Gun by George Ezra The Section Quartet, such Great Heights
Step Out by Jose Gonzale The Eyes of Shabbat Gula by Nightwish Neck Deep December
Sucré - Hiding Out (Live) Dead Throne... The Devil Wears... Ludovico Einaudi Nuvole Bianche
melissasmccracken
Starry Night by Chris Augus Original Theme song to the Pink Panther
Electric Daisy Violin- Lindsey Stirling Devil Went Down to Georgia Love You Madly by Cake
"What Color is Tuesday?" Dvorak - New World Symphony - Part One: 4th Movement, Dublin Philharmonic, Conductor Derek Gleeson "The Distance Between" by composer Adrian Munsey
Move BY Luke Bryan variation of William Tell's Overture Ludovico Einaudi - Divenire

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            2019 Greg Clayton/ gclayton@harding.edu