Visual Elements in Music

7 Painting as Constant Inspiration

Apart from these experiments with colors and light, there still were models of musical compositions inspired by visual artworks. From the 1960s to the 1980s, a greater number of composers were interested in music after painting. Like their forebear Liszt, they were inspired by individual works of fine art (this is particularly true for Walter Steffens and Michael Denhoff) or by the entire artistic creation of a specific painter (as Morton Feldman with De Kooning or For Philip Guston) and tried to achieve a close connection or a freer and more abstract interpretation.[15] Their compositions are part of the many-faceted attempts to integrate visual elements into music, and an expression of the still inspiring idea of a synthesis of different arts and the senses. Still again, new chances have opened to realize this idea, since developments in computer technology and the new media make many things possible nowadays, which the precursors of audiovisual music projects could only dream of. Thus, acoustic impulses can be transformed into graphical forms through media technology or digital parameter mapping, a framework creating conditions which allow for the simultaneous composition of sounds and images.

The database Musik nach Bildern of the Institut für Musikwissenschaft der Universität Innsbruck contains indications of in total more than 1.000 image-related compositions which have been created since 1839. It can be gathered from additional statistics that Paul Klee is the painter whose works have been most frequently set to music and that Pablo Picasso’s painting Guernica is the single work of art which has been most often set to music. Cf. Homepage