one woman's view into a world of creativity

Rhythm is a Dancer

Our next project in Design is to create a piece of art that illustrates rhythm.  Specifically, to translate music into art.  I sorted through my mp3 player for a few minutes and eventually settled on Rhythm is a Dancer by Snap!  Ironic, I know.

  • I interpreted the higher pitched notes as brighter, and up higher in the composition, while the deeper, lower tones are darker colors toward the bottom of the composition. 
  • I interpret music as running left to right, like writing or sheet music.  So I organized my painting in horizontal registers intended to be read from left to right.
  • The deep, pounding bass notes are the large purple circles.  I imagine them as heavy, large blobs.  The rounded shape is sort of like a big basketball bouncing along, pushing the beat.  The various lighter and darker outlines near the edges are intended to convey the movement and pulse.  If you’ve ever seen Jurassic Park, you might remember the scene where the cup of water has ripples from T-Rex’s footsteps.  Imagine these around the purple circles, vibrating the shapes with the intensity of the bass.  Or imagine looking at a large speaker moving forward and backward because it’s turned up so loud.
  • The slightly higher pitched beats, heard early in the song have a somewhat fuzzy quality to them.  So I did smaller circles just above the purple bass notes.  These I did in transitions of purple and blue.  To convey the fuzziness of the sound I outlined them in squiggly lines.
  • Other higher pitched beats are the small green circles, repeated.
  • Now and then there are sharp cymbal claps in the song.  I interpreted these like explosions, and used a spatter technique with bright green paint to capture this quality.  I also interpret green, yellow, or a gray/silver as the metallic sound of this clash, so I chose yellow-green.  This color fits nicely in the spectrum registers.
  • The woman’s voice rises and falls, and is rather fluid yet crisp.  The orange lines toward the top represent her voice.  The thin lines rise and fall, coming together to form an overall sound wave.
  • In contrast, the male’s voice is deep and choppy.  I used sporadic lines rising and falling towards the bottom.  His rhythm of rapping is jarring and staccato, so I used short, separate lines leaning left and right to convey this.
  • Throughout the song high-pitched synthesizer notes seem to skim along the top of the song.  I used bright red, semi-rectangular shapes to denote this.  The shapes remind me loosely of piano/synthesizer keys.  They seem to bounce as well, so I organized them loosely, leaning this way and that.  These sprightly, energetic cluster rhyme with the choppy lines of rap at the bottom.
  • Other high-pitched synth notes run delicately through the song.  To me they evoke sparkling and twinkling.  I used yellow and white along the top of the composition to create dots and stars.  I wanted to capture the bright, flickering in and out of stars/glitter.

This project reminded me a lot of Fantasia, in that it translates music into visual art.  In particular, the assignment reminds me of the Fantasia sequence Meet the Soundtrack.  This fun little intermission exemplifies how the Disney artists interpreted sound into the animation of many parts of their film.  If you want to learn more about why we pair certain colors, shapes, and sounds together, check out these Wikipedia articles on synesthesia and synesthesia in art.

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