Sunday, December 5, 2010

On Music and Color

Since the inception of "Twin Arts," I have realized what a powerful hold the theme of music and art, or art in music, have upon me, and how I wish to continue exploring them in my work. Actually, these themes were fascinating to me and vital to who I was, long before I became a professional painter.

I grew up playing piano, and often found musical instruments to be aesthetic wonders, not just for the sounds they produced, but for their graceful forms and shapes. To take it a step further, a human being playing an instrument is a joyous thing to watch, as though that instrument were an extension of the person's own self. Translating that connection to a painting is both a challenge and a joy.

Countless artists have been inspired by music in their work; countless musicians are often inspired by art. During my junior year of college, I wrote a paper about one such musician, Olivier Messiaen. I felt a connection to this great 20th-century composer because he was heavily influenced by color and nature in his work. You can read the paper here.

I often found that "coloring" directly onto my musical scores helped me understand the music on a much deeper level. Musical tones, like colors, can have their own "temperature", "value", or "hue." It's a little hard to explain, but perhaps if you look at these copies of my score, you'll see what I mean...

Here is a page from Debussy's prelude, "Bruyeres (Heather)." I indicated its overall feeling by using pastel colors in warm and cool.

Page from Anna's Debussy Preludes

Here is another page, this time from my old score of Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G# minor - a much more intense piece. I only used two colors, but indicated how the piece "heats up" and "cools down" throughout in varying degrees.

Page from Anna's Rachmaninoff Preludes

I'm not sure my brain interprets musical chords in the form of color to the extent that Messiaen's did, but there is definitely a connection. I would love to hear from other artists out there whether or not they experience a similar sensory reaction to music. Comments are welcome!

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