Music Analogies

In my Visual Concepts class we just finished up our final project of the year, Music Analogies. Our objective with this project was to take an instrumental song and provide an accurate visual interpretation of the musical experience without using any narrative or representational elements. That to me already seemed like a major challenge, but yet I was willing to challenge myself even more with my song choice. As seen with a lot of my previous work, I am a huge fan of using watercolor brushes and my work is usually inspired by the beach in one way or the other. So the obvious choice for my song would have been something mellow and soft that could be depicted by wavy lines in shades of green and blue, my go-to. Instead, I decided to go outside my comfort zone and pick something unexpected.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the Hunger Games movies, and in particular I’ve always noted how fantastic the film score for all four films were. James Newton Howard is the composer of all the music for the series, and I chose his song “Rebels Attack” from the final movie as my song selection for this project. Along with the visual, we also had to provide a written explanation of all of our artistic choices. What shapes or lines represent the tempo, how the composition reflects the soundscape, what the colors used symbolize, things like that. We also had to give three emotive adjectives to describe our senses of the piece. Mine ended up being dramatic, intense, and suspenseful. I really wanted the focus of my piece to be on the cluster of abstract shapes. It was essentially my representation of a battle scene, while the wavy lines around it represented the calmer parts of the song building up to it. The triangles were used to show the beat of the song, and I went with a warm color palette to give a sense of urgency, danger, and alert. I had way more fun with this project then I thought I would, and it really helped me challenge myself to do things I wouldn’t normally do. Music is always influencing art, and vice versa, and I think this project really opened my eyes to how the two go hand-in-hand in order to make something spectacular.

Just the process of working on this project was so different than what I was used to. I literally just laid in my bed with my eyes closed listening to this song on repeat just trying to visualize what colors and shapes I saw when hearing the music. If I had chosen a soft ocean-like song it probably would have put me to sleep, but instead this song got my heart beating with its intensity and it really got me thinking. After my critique too, I discovered some really awesome instrumental tracks that my fellow classmates used that I plan to listen to again in the future. Plus, seeing how my classmates visualized these songs was a really cool experience as well.  I’m happy my risk of doing something outside of my comfort zone paid off, and this project has definitely changed the way I listen to music for the better. The only downfall was that we were all so into this project, it took us the full three hour class period to finish our critique!

Abstract shapes composition in warm colors

“Rebels Attack” by James Newton Howard

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