For a long time now, I have pondered the relationship between visual art and music.
I happen to love both art forms greatly, and contemplate the ties between them when working on one or the other.
I laughed the other day when painting because I attempted to ‘EQ’ the warm colours out of a piece (I also tried to locate Ctrl-Z to ‘undo’ something on a drawing, so maybe I am going mad). It’s interesting when I am mixing songs, I get the sensation of frequencies as certain colours, that need to be mixed in a particular way, edited, moved around, removed, made more prominent or brought further back, as they would in a painting (especially more recently, in learning so much about, and manipulating and being creative with, sound, through this audio course).
It made me so happy, then, when today in class Tim used a work of art - ‘The Tower of Babel’, by Pieter Bruegel (1563) - to describe how a good music mix should be composed – with consideration of "Place, Space and Bass".
Image Source: The Google Art Project - https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/beta/asset/bAGKOdJfvfAhYQ
I gained greater satisfaction mixing a track just after this, having these thoughts in mind; visualising the mix, how the composition was working, and where all the elements were within the space. It helped me to better conceptualise music composition!
I can understand each art form far greater when I perceive their cross-over with others I practice - when I can visualise a song, or ‘hear’ a work of art. It allows more meaningful schemata to form in my mind, and this network of connections between information is exactly how humans learn.
A deep, enduring understanding, changes us from thereon, rather than having detached ideas, isolated pieces of knowledge, that we may recall but that have no great influence or effect.
One of my favourite artists of all time is Wassily Kandinsky, he was both a musician and visual artist, and was very attune to the connection between these art forms. A book of his I absolutely adore is ‘Concerning the Spiritual in Art’, where he addresses the association in our psyche, in our spirits, of visual and aural art.
Image Source: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2010/01/12/cultura/a05n1cul
“Colour is a power which directly influences the soul. Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul”. - Kandinsky (1977, p. 25).
And that is exactly what art does - it causes vibrations in the soul. Both music and visual art touch those same ‘strings’ in us.
Pertinent excerpts from Concerning the Spiritual in Art.
I attended the Van Gogh exhibition yesterday and, maybe it was my greater exposure to music recently, found I was struck by certain sounds, instruments, balances of music that different pieces permeated. It was a very affecting and impressionable experience of art.
His works have a life force, an impressive living quality. Because while they were created over a hundred years ago, the force that created them is the same now, and exists in those viewing them - the same reason any of us feel the need to paint, make music, make art, dance, act... Express something.
I like looking at people looking at art.
It’s just so wonderful that there is this inexplicable, unwritten correlation that we feel, that exists and that our minds manoeuvre without having to consciously employ it. It’s very natural, and feels beautiful, absorbing the intricacies of art - music and art - and allowing the experience of each to inform our own creativity.
Kandinsky, W. (1977). Concerning the Spiritual in Art. New York: Dover Publications.
Top Image Source: http-//www.healing-power-of-art.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/brain-right