Exploring Music Visually

After spending the last couple weeks focusing on the way our bodies can move, the Purple Room decided to spend today thinking about how sound moves, or what would it look like if we could see it move. We began by considering some general questions about music. The intention was to make the connection between music, visual mark-making and color using the subtractive method to create an image.

We asked,
If you could see music, what would it look like?
What sort of colors would the music be?
What type of marks would it make?

“I see it on Grandma’s piano music, but you can’t see it when it’s playing. It goes like do da do da, up and down, music tunes that go staccato, it would look bigger when it’s loud…And if it was really fast, it would go like this [makes quick fast lines with her fingers].”

“I think it would be red when it’s loud and blue when it’s quiet.”

We listened to some different pieces of instrumental music mostly from Stravinsky’s “The Rite of Spring.” Then, each child chose a color to match the part of the music that we listened to. Then they covered a piece of foam board with that color(s).


“This part sounds scary, it should be red.”

“Something dark would be scary, this part is happy, rainbow colors.”

“I think [music] would look like sound waves.”

“Like beautiful waves in the ocean.”

“When it’s loud it’s red and when it’s quiet, it’s yellow.”em2em1

Then we used a brayer and paint brush with black ink to cover up our color(s). Then we continued to listen to music while we scratched back into the ink layer with the pointy end of paintbrush.dsc07067

“I’ve seen music, my Uncle plays music. It’s like scribbles and when it’s fast; faster lines; slower; slow lines [makes them smaller with his hands]; and medium, it gets medium. My music will be medium.”

“I did loopty loops for my colors.”

It was so interesting to hear the students thoughts on sound, mark marking and color and there are so many directions we could go. Today, we talked in more general terms about fast, slow, quiet, and loud music, but it would be interesting to work with the Music Specialist in selecting a particular piece of music that they could explore in music as well.  em3em4

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