While paintings, drawings, and sculptures have inspired composers and musicians since ancient times, before the modern era, they were rarely used specifically to generate musical material or forms. However, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, new technologies allowed avant-garde movements to increasingly incorporate the actual structure and language of visual art into music. The development of film and the advent of digital computers enabled new interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to music, hardly imaginable in the past.
This paper investigates the use of visual art to generate musical material and form. In particular, it studies the use of algorithmic processes, aided by computers, to translate visual elements in paintings, such as line, color and shape, into musical parameters, such as rhythm, pitch, harmony and timbre. The first chapter provides a brief overview of historical methods for obtaining musical content and structure from paintings. The following chapter analyzes four of the author’s compositions that derive musical material and form from paintings, including two instrumental works, a fixed media electronics piece, and a live audiovisual performance.
A Portfolio of Compositions