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Music & Sound

The topic I have been researching and reading about this week is music and sound. In chapter 10 of Music and the Child, Sarrazin discusses musical creativity, and children’s musical play. She poses an exercise in which one can think of all the music they hear in one day, either purposefully or unchosen music. Can this include sound? Because often, background sound can take on a musical quality. Often, kids will be very aware of this, even creating sound by tapping or moving objects, and then others might join in with sounds or even humming. This type of “music” is both kinesthetic and collaborative.

Especially interesting is the section on Children’s Compositions using Abstract Notation. Examples are given of children’s musical notation using shapes, lines, squiggles, and color in response to sound. The child could then use this language of symbol and color to conduct their music. Taking this idea further, there is a correlation between the visual arts, including architecture, and sound/music. Music can be intuitively interpreted into visual form and color by artists. Kandinsky, Klee, and painters of the Synchromist movement all made this connection in their work (Kennedy). But what about the science of turning visual oscillations into sound?

I googled the question, and came up with a few apps that claim to turn visual images into sound. I downloaded one, AudioPaint onto one computer, and another, Spectrogram Player onto another computer, and spent some time comparing results of loading the same image into each app. The sounds were consistent with each app. Each app shows the sound wave patterns generated by the image. I was very excited to “hear” the paintings and architectural renderings!

Sarrazin discusses in Chapter 6 how music and sound is processed in the brain, where connections are made to sound associations and emotions. I perceived the sounds generated by digital architectural renderings with many orthogonal lines and planes as the most “metallic” and harsh, while a pastel drawing of storm clouds over the ocean had a softer, swooping melodic sound. In terms of emotional response in the brain, the pastel was drawn by my mother, and is one of my favorite pieces of art. Could this be why the sound of it was also appealing? Or is it that spherical shapes and raster images just have smoother sounds than vector based images?

How can I use this aspect of sound and visual art that is so intriguing in my project? Taking a step back, I have very little formal training with music beyond middle school orchestra and guitar lessons as a teen. I love to listen to music (and sound) but am somewhat intimidated by trying to create and work with music. But I would like to try using files of the “sounds” of paintings, perhaps taking them into another program for editing. Right now, the rough concept for my project involves construction and deconstruction of painting in an AR environment, and using the corresponding sound as part of the performance seems like a good integration of the arts.


Sarrazin, N. Music and the Child, Open SUNY Textbooks (2016)

Kennedy, Sharon L., Painting Music: Rhythm And Movement In Art (2007). Sheldon Museum of Art Catalogues and Publications. 56.

Retrieved from:

Bradley, D. Mapping Sound to Color (2017) Designing Sound

Music Has its Own Geometry, Princeton University (2008)

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