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Theories on the Links Between Music and Art

Updated on August 5, 2011
Azure11 profile image

Marian (aka Azure11) has been working as a professional artist since 2006 and has sold over 600 paintings in that time.


Having worked as a professional artist for a number of years I have been building on a theory that musicians and how they create music are really not that different from artists. My theory mostly revolves around probably what would be termed popular music rather than classical but I have been exploring this thought and now want to put these ideas on to (virtual) paper. I would welcome any other thoughts and views from artists and musicians about these theories or any aspect of this that I have missed.

Music and Art - Collections

As musicians make albums which are a collection of songs that usually, although perhaps being of different tempo, or created with different instruments, gel together as a group, so artists build collections of paintings that maybe have a theme running through or else are similar in style. Perhaps both have gone through a creative period to bring about the collection which then creates a cycle of exhibiting it/selling it and then starting again on a new collection.

Music and Art - Style

As artist we build our own style of painting, we use similar colour schemes and materials in our paintings and whether we do it consciously or subconsciously we all have our own unique style. Even if we try to imitate another artist, or say if a group of artists all tried to paint the same picture, each one would be different because of the way we apply the paint and the techniques we use.

With musicians they also have their own style and this can vary slightly say from album to album as an artist’s work would vary from collection to collection, but mostly the same core elements are in each of their compositions.

Music and Art - Recognition

With regards to recognition, I don’t so much mean public recognition, although this could be another aspect, but really in terms of let’s say you hear a piece of music and you know it is instantly by say The Killers or Coldplay because you recognise their style, the voice etc. In the same way you could see a piece of art and know that it is by Constable, Turner, Van Gogh etc (and I have had people say that they saw a piece of art somewhere that they knew was mine so this also extends to the mere mortals of the art and music world!).

Music and Art - Commissions

I only saw this connection recently although it is quite obvious now I think about it. I was watching a documentary about Nelly Furtado and she was explaining how she had been commissioned to come up with a song for a big event in a stadium. So she had to create something that was suitable for that kind of environment. Likewise you could talk about perhaps Bryan Adams being commissioned to create music for the film, ‘Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron’. There he would have to come up with a number of pieces of music that suited what was happening in the film at the time.

Likewise I have been asked to create a piece of art for a particular room – something that would matching with the surroundings and furnishings. As well as that I have had commissions for who houses or hotel projects where you have to come up with designs for a number of pieces of artwork that will work well together.

Music and Art - Composition

For me I can see that there are 2 main components to a song – the music and the lyrics. I would equate this in painting terms to composition and colours but there could be other comparisons, for example texture and colour (particularly in some of my abstract work). Perhaps texture could also be equated to the beat or mood of a song?

Music and Art - Distribution

By this I mean the selling of the work, but in this case there are some marked differences. In terms of an original painting that only one person can own I don’t feel that there is too much of an equivalent in music (feel free to correct me if I am wrong), unless you can class ownership of the rights of a particular song. However, if you are selling prints then that may be the equivalent of selling a CD or music download (although with significant price differences). Everyone can own a printed copy of either a painting or an album if they are available.

Music and Art - Inspiration

So how does a musician go about getting inspiration? Well that is a question I cannot answer as an artist. Perhaps both use personal experiences, emotions, landscapes etc. Personally I use colours, the environment, textures and objects as inspiration but this can differ from artist to artist.


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    • Azure11 profile image

      Marian L 7 years ago from UK

      Thanks kathryn1000, yes I find it really interesting and think there are probably links between a lot of the creative arts.

    • kathryn1000 profile image

      kathryn1000 7 years ago from London

      That is fascinating