Musical Narratives for Visual Art by Nadel Paris

Posted February 22, 2018 by MarcTRomero

The musical narrative attempts to describe, either through sound effects or through more subtle compositional devices, a progression in time

Among the many ways that music can enhance the experience of visual art is by suggesting a narrative. The musical narrative attempts to describe, either through sound effects or through more subtle compositional devices, a progression in time. We may learn about events or conditions leading up to the painting's moment. Sometimes the music gives us hints about future consequences.

Not all genres of art, or subjects within the various styles, resonate with this notion of music offering narrative. Music for abstract art, by way of example, might better serve with a more or less static presentation of some feeling or emotion conveyed by the art. With dramatic subjects and events, however, where we are naturally inclined to imagine a storyline, the music can stimulate and inform our own creative engagement with the visual work. If our appreciation for the dramatic subject is tied in part to our ability to frame that subject, to put that subject in a context, then music which offers narrative elements may well deepen our appreciation of the artwork.

Consider a painting of opposing starships from different galaxies. The high beam from one ship is focused ominously on the hull of the other. We are not certain that a battle will ensue, but we have our suspicions. The music, however, takes a stand. From the distance, way back in the z-axis of the sound field, a military drumbeat can be made out. That drumbeat gets louder, moves towards us. Snarling brass synths, channeled hard left and right, are likewise getting louder and panning to center field. With a great crash of the cymbal the conflict has joined!

From the foregoing we understand how music not only reinforces our suspicion of some confrontation afoot, but takes us one step beyond the visual image and confirms the violent engagement of the opposing ships. Our own imagination is stimulated, given permission, to fill in all of the awesome details of space battle. We see the phasers firing. We see chunks of the ships blowing off into space.

Consider a pre-dawn painting of fishermen taking to their boats. We hear the solitary cry of a loon. She speaks of the still sleepy sea. A meandering piano line plays over a bed of strings, like the seagulls becoming gradually more active amongst the waves. Slowly tempo and activity in the audio accelerates even as our fishermen gather a head of steam for the day's tasks.

In our morning fisherman example the music conveys to us not only a progression in time but suggests acceleration in activity. We understand that the fisherman get busy.

We need not agree with the stand taken by the audio to benefit by the presentation. In the final analysis, if our own imagination is engaged to conjure a satisfying narrative, our experience and appreciation of the art may be deepened.

Nadel Paris is an EDM artist and a music producer. Nadel writes about music and its various genres, other related topics and shares her experience she has over the years. She offers expert advice and great tips for the all aspects of music genre through her blogs.
To know more about Nadel visit her here:
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Last Updated February 22, 2018