Visual and musical analogies - understanding classical music through the visual, and visual art through classical music

I recently shared the passage and video below with my students of the "Form, Gesture, Anatomy" life drawing and basic ecorche workshop, as wonderful introduction to gesture or compositional line:

On gesture, line and "one buttock playing" (From my Form, Gesture, Anatomy Course)

"Capturing gesture, to me, is the ultimate goal of free hand drawing.  The other qualities of accuracy, form, anatomy, and design relationships should be unified by the central melody of the intuitively felt gesture, a vision of the overall story arc of the piece.    Developing sensitivity and facility in this field is the goal of the activities contained in this lesson.

Note that there is an important distinction to make here: the term “gesture drawing” is often used today to refer to very short pose - ie 1 to 5 minute drawings, that heavily priortise a sense of action.  This is one application of gesture - but gesture is not confined to short, exaggerated studies - it can exist in a fully rendered drawing or painting.   

And it is also not limited to the visual arts: in the video below, Benjamin Zander describes the "line" of music in this fabulous talk, the capacity of this line to move us and the idea that this line is really the whole point.

Here's to one buttock playing:

Classical Music Visualisations

Here you will find some music visualisations of Bach and Beethoven.  There are lots of these on Youtube, of various composers, and for me they make the music so much more compelling - perhaps because I am so visual, the patterns that emerge through these kinds of visualisations help me to understand and enjoy their complex but integrated structures.  I really enjoy the use of space in the first two, as opposed to the purely two dimensional visualisations.  The third shows a 2D animation that does represent the dynamics of the way the music is played, but I wish someone could develop a three dimensional depiction of dynamic range - could be spectacular.

Bach, J.S. -- The Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus I

Visualisation by Andy Fillebrown 


Beethoven 5th Symphony, 1st mvt.

"Fisheye" visualisation by Musanim


Bach, Sonata in C Major, Allegro assai, Lara St. John, solo violin

Visualisation by Musanim