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Music

MUSIC is art created with SOUND. What types of music do you like to listen to? Who are your favorite musical artists?

Some artists use elements of visual art, such as lines, colors, and shapes, to represent elements of music and sound. For example, a short or quick note from a song might be interpreted as a short line or a dot on the page. What kind of note or sound do you think a long, squiggly line might represent? What about a yellow circle or a blue triangle? 

Kleine Welten: Abstract Composition with Checkered Plane, date unknown. Vassily Kandinsky. 1956.231. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

The artworks in this section, by four different visual artists, were inspired by music and sound. Choose one and imagine how it would sound if it were a song. Make up a melody that goes with the work of art and hum or sing it for your family. Ask a family member to make up a song or sound for the artwork. How is it the same or different from yours? 

Shoutin’, 1985. Moe Brooker. 2017.205

Sometimes the way an artist puts together basic elements—like line, shape, and color for visual art, and tempo, pitch, and loudness for music—creates a mood and influences how we feel. When you look at one of these artworks, what emotions do you feel? What mood do you think the artist was trying to create?

Choose another artwork and repeat the activities. How are the songs, sounds, and moods you imagine the same or different?

Amorpha: Fugue in Two Colors II, 1910–11. Frantisek Kupka. 1969.51. © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris

Sound, date unknown. Toko Shinoda. 1982.239

How Do Feelings Look and Sound?

Follow the links below to listen to two different songs. While you’re listening, draw a picture of how each song might look, just like the artist did in his print above.  

After you’ve listened to both songs, and drawn pictures of each, look at both of your drawings together. In what ways are they similar or different? Did you use different colors? Or maybe different types of lines or shapes? If you had to assign a feeling to each song and drawing, what would it be? Having fun? Take turns choosing a favorite and repeat the activity with your family.

Take a picture of your drawings and share your pictures and feelings using #CMAatHome.

Extra Challenge

Improv a song! In his painting Composition Concrete (Study for Mural), Stuart Davis used random shapes and colors inspired by concrete music, an experimental form of music that uses random sounds to create compositions. Walk around your house and pick five random objects, or take turns picking out objects for your family members. What kinds of sounds can those objects make? Can one object make multiple sounds? Make a song using the different sounds that your objects make. Record your sounds using your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Try it out with a family member or a friend using your favorite form of digital communication. While one person performs their song, the other one makes a drawing inspired by the sounds they hear. 

Share your songs using #CMAatHome.

Composition Concrete (Study for Mural), 1957–60. Stuart Davis. 1964.2. © VAGA, New York, NY