The Emotional Resonance of Music as a Parallel to Painting

Among the artistic relatives to painting, music stirs and inspires me most. Prose and poetry have a certain thoughtful effect, photography strikes me in immediate ways, and film combines various threads into a woven cord of artistry. Of course, every form of art has echoes of others. Music, however, is the one that most succinctly mirrors painting in my heart.

At its core, music starts with an idea. Something simple – a theme, a story, a metaphor, a feeling. That idea is handled by the musical artist through an auditory vision. It becomes an aural sensation only after the artist determines the appropriate mood through the creative selection of a key and qualified chords, progressing in a way that embodies the emotional narrative serving the purpose of the idea. If the song has words, the lyrics and the music will co-mingle to underline each other. Determined tempo and rhythms give solid ground to the proceedings, while melodies establish the unique voice of the song, adding depth and range. Verses, choruses, refrains, and bridges unite and trade hands in order to develop the journey, becoming milestones along the way. Finely crafted songs use dynamics, employing restful spots for the listener to digest what they’ve heard, as well as forceful moments that drive home the point. When the artist is satisfied in their mixing of these elements, they let it loose in the wild for listeners to react to the concoction.

Without belaboring the point, painting almost completely parallels the same process. At the core of it there is an idea, followed by creative endeavoring towards the goal of provoking thought, emotion, and general reaction within the framework of a bespoke design. Many of the same ideas are referenced. Composition, rhythm, color, and harmony are used to describe factors in both forms of art. The long and short of it is that what music is for the ears, painting is for the eyes.

I enjoy making this comparison because it helps me simplify my process of painting and emphasize its central components, especially when I am finding myself at a loss creatively. By centering my thoughts on the way music entertains and provokes, I am reminded of similarities in painting. This goes a long way to calming my desires to impress, which only make me nervous. Certain songs are masterpieces – collections of ideas brought together skillfully to impact the listener in deep and various ways. Other songs are meant to be enjoyed through dancing. Some songs push the limits of listening in favor of pushing the boundaries of music. There are quiet and intimate songs, loud and intense songs, songs that tell stories, songs that are cryptic, and songs that are catchy. The point is that each song is different and when two songs are too similar, we are disappointed. We, as listeners, desire to hear an artistic voice and we want to experience everything that voice has to offer. Artists are then tasked with the essential job of being creative. Nothing more and hopefully nothing less.

This juxtaposition of music and painting helps me to find my own voice as I discover what I resonate with and compare my visual world against the auditory world that inspires me. In what ways have my favorite musical artists approached their form of creation and how can I learn from them? Of what I respond to, how much is based in technical skill and how much in emotional vibrance? What subjects are pondered? How much is improvised, how much is exact and planned? Many of these questions are helpful to ask, as focused thought and observation can help instill wisdom and depth of understanding. Yet, at the same time, many of these influences can happen quite naturally and it is up to us, as artists, to create enough work that we can begin to point at it and see our own voice coming through.

What inspires you? What resonates with you? What influences your work?

If you enjoyed this blog post, please join my email list where you will get a weekly update with links to each post I have written that week. If you would like to support the author of this blog and receive something nice in return, please visit the shop and see if something strikes your fancy. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: