speak music speak design

week 10 | Find your collaborator


On Friday, April 17th, you should present your idea for the final project as a group. This should include:

  1. Visual material to explain your idea (moodboard, examples, precedents)
  2. A written paragraph
  3. Production schedule
  4. Context of your work. (Gallery, Social Network, Online, Theater – where does your project happen in the end?)

Time is getting tight so please make sure you have all these things prepared. You will have time to work on this during class while we will talk to individual groups.


Send a link to your work online (your website, soundcloud, behance) and a short description of what you are interested in doing to us in an email before Monday April 13. We will publish this on the student site to help you find a partner. Remember that each collaboration needs to involve at least one visual artist and one musician. Size of the group and nature of the project are completely up to you.

The dancing traffic light manikin.
Smart SMART campaign and great example of successful collaboration.

week 9 | Dictionary Presentation & Final Project Pitches


We saw this before but take a look again:
Nathalie Miebach uses the data of storms to create visuals and music. Her homepage | article on brainpickings | Her TED talk


Microsonic Landscapes Music becomes sculpture


CITYMUSIC Pianola City Music: Playing a Cityscape as a Piano Score


The physical form of language is a record of collective memory. Typeface by synoptic office.


Digital WireFont by Dan Hoopert


PI – Visualization | Sonification | Urban Art


NYC Open Data


Friday, April 10th, will be divided into two segments:

12.10-13.20: Final presentation of the dictionary projects
Please keep your presentations to a max of 10 min.
Make sure that all members of your group are actively involved in the presentation and talk to these questions:
Who is your audience?
Why did you select a specific channel of media / platform?
How will this project (potentially) live in the future?
How will you document it for this class and your future path?
How did the collaboration between musicians and designer work out?

13.20-13.30: Break

13.30-14.50: Pitch your final project
You will have to come in with an idea for the final project. The only requirement we have for this is that it addresses the intersection of design and music and that it is a collaboration that includes at least one designer and one musician. You will pitch your idea to your peers in a speed dating format. Be sure to be able to explain it in 2 minutes. You have to bring in a physical reference that you can put on the table while you pitch your idea. This can be a simple sketch on paper, a small sculpture or prototype or any other object that helps explaining your idea.

by Daniel Palacios
A long piece of rope generates 3D waves floating in space by the physical action of its movement: the rope which creates the visual waves also simultaneously creates the sound by cutting through the air, making up a single element.

week 7 | Dictionary 2

The dictionary

The objective of the dictionary project is to compare the taxonomy of music and design. In some cases we use the same terminology for similar things in other cases vocabulary might point into opposing directions.

The dictionary should be a framework that can be filled with a variety of terms. In a first step, your group creates a way to experience one term in both disciplines. You should design a prototype and mockups to present this idea to the class.

Once your group decided about the final way to deliver this experience you should think about 2 other terms that could be experienced in the same way. This is only a critical thinking exercise – you only have to realise the project for the first term.

Examples: If you design a game for your first term, you could think about two more levels of the game for two additional words. If you design a magazine for the first term, you could think about two more issues exploring two additional terms. Again, these additional terms should not be implemented but just thought about to proof your dictionary concept.


Friday, March 20th, will be divided into two segments:
12.10-13.20: Dictionary Group Work

13.20-13.30: Break

13.30-14.30: Presentation of prototype and feedback from the class. Each group has 10 min to present and 10 min for feedback.
The groups that are not presenting will evaluate the presentation taking these 3 roles:

Director of Technology: How is media used? Would different media be more beneficial? Can it be produced? Recommendations.

Director of Social Change: Does it address diversity? How is it connected to communities? Social Networks Integration?

Art Director (Design and Music): Design? Music? Typography? Audio Flow? Sound Design? Clear Communication? Do key visuals talk to audience? How do Music and design/concept integrate?

Is this a dictionary? digital-deadly-sins by The Guardian

week 6 | MoMA: Design for Ear and Eye


Friday, March 3, we will meet at the MoMA (12.30 in front of the MoMA shop) to visit the the “Design for Ear and Eye” exhibition.

prepare (for March 13)

3. Create a PDF with the 3 photographs of exhibition items, written statement, your photographic response and a link to your soundfile on soundcloud and submit to the folder 05 Assignment Design for Ear and Eye before class on March 13.

Detailed Assignment below under week 5

Hiroshi Ohchi. Radio. 1954. Silkscreen, 40 1/2 x 28 1/4″ (102.9 x 71.8 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gift of the designer
Making Music Modern: Design for Ear and Eye

Week 5 | Dictionary


Methods for the dictionary
We have a common understanding of what a dictionary is. In many cases it is based on visual language and words to offers some kind of translation. For this class we will expand the understanding of the dictionary and “allow” a variety of approaches. Here are some examples:

Ways to collect all terms and make them searchable/comparable

Personal Statements
Ask people to describe the key elements of their discipline

Let the community participate?

Can a dictionary tell story?
http://celebratedesign.org/ (Hannah)
sports.espn.go.com: DockEllis
pitchfork.com: bat-for-lashes/
nytimes.com: south-china-sea/


Friday, March 3, we will meet at the MoMA (12.30 in front of the MoMA shop) to visit the the “Design for Ear and Eye” exhibition.

This is the assignment for the visit – it is related to the dictionary project, however you are supposed to do all steps individually:

1. Photograph three items in the exhibition which seem related to the topic your group has chosen for the dictionary.

2. At home, research these three items and choose the one that seems most relevant to you. Respond to this item in three ways:
A. Written paragraph
(min 250 words – why is this relevant for your dictionary)
B. Photograph
(inspired by the item or as a response to it)
C. Sound file
(30 sec, can be music, sounds,.. must be your composition)

3. Create a PDF with the 3 photographs of exhibition items, written statement, your photographic response and a link to your soundfile on soundcloud and submit to the folder 05 Assignment Design for Ear and Eye before class on March XX.

The exhibition is not super large so you will have time to discuss the dictionary project with your group afterwards. Also, consider visiting the cut to swipe exhibition at MoMA

Group work: Dictionary
As a group write a one page proposal about your plans for the dictionary project. Include media, context and also who is working on which part of the project.

Miebach translates weather and climate change data from cities into musical scores, which she then translates into vibrant, whimsical sculptures and uses them as the basis for collaboration with musicians across a wide spectrum of styles and genres. Her TED talk

Week 4 | Translate Design into Music



SOUND LOGOS: A Sound Trademark (or audio logo or sonic logo or sometimes called a “mnemonic”) is a short distinctive melody or other sequence of sound, mostly positioned at the beginning or ending of a commercial. It can be seen as the acoustic equivalent of a visual logo. Multiple examples of Sound Logos can be found HERE.

ABSTRACTION IN MUSIC: How does artistic Abstraction apply to music? Imagine how many different ways you could interpret the melody of “Happy Birthday”. Each could be its own little variation, ultimately a type of abstraction.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Work on discovering common concepts in apparently disconnected music pieces. Here’s a wild example: What do Mozart’s famous Piano Sonata No11 K331 (3rd Movement) and Hermeto Pascoal’s De sabado para Dominguinhos have in common?

EXPLORING A MUSICAL FORM (and its abstractions in a contemporary context): The classical Rondo. And two “jazz abstracions” of it:
Dave Brubeck – Blue Rondo A La Turk and Alexis Cuadrado “Vals En Las Ramas” with lyrics from a Poem of Federico Garcia Lorca (Don’t miss Miguel Zenon’s amazing sax solo at the end!)


Look at Robert Indiana’s EAT DIE 

1 – Make a plan on what musical elements can connect with the piece. Pay special attention to form, and think of what the narrative and flow of your piece are going to be.

2 – Once your piece is finished, write a paragraph of approximately 75 words in which you describe your piece and its connection to the Indiana design.

3 – Add an original “Sound Logo” to end your piece. Any musical/sound idea that you think will be the best possible sonic branding for the LOVE design.

4 – Submission: One minute long (approx.) music piece in digital audio format. Upload to SoundCloud. Create a text file with your name on it. Include the Soundcloud link on top followed by your descriptive paragraph. Upload it to the folder “04 Assignment Translate Design into Music” in our google docs page before class.

WNYC’S “New Sounds with John Schaeffer
“Music Inspired by Painters” Part 1Part 2 and Part 3

week 3 | Translate Music into Design


Articles and ideas about the grid: The Grid System

Grid: An introduction and How-to by Andrew Maher (Traditional Graphic Design Grids)

Oskar Fischinger: Kreise (excerpt) | Kreise Complete Realized with GasparColor| Studie Nr 8

Viking Eggeling: Symphonie Diagonale

More about Eggeling and his work


Listen to this: Kraftwerk. Das Model.

1 – Design a grid inspired by the atmosphere/feeling of the music (black lines on white background) The grid does not have to be a “traditional graphic design grid” but can consist of organic lines, circles, shapes and be more of a pattern than an actual grid. (like this or this)

2 – Fill the grid with black color to represent rhythm and/or elements of the music.

3 – Submission: One digital image
Size: 1024 x 768
Color b/w, RGB
Resolution: 72 dpi
Format: PNG, JPG
upload it to our google folder before class

There is a sample page in the google folder called “Explore Rhythm”. Plus chapter 1 & 2 of “Understanding Comics” to explore visual language.

Kreise (excerpt) by Oskar Fischinger on Vimeo
1933-34, one of the first color films in Europe, made with the Gaspar Color process.
For more on Fischinger and his work see our Fischinger Research pages at

week 2 | Music Workshop



Designing a Music Font – By Daniel Spreadbury – Steinberg software is creating a new music notation program.

Adobe Audition Tutorial – A basic audio editing tool included in the Adobe Creative Suite

DesignModo.com – Connections between Music and Design.

Wikipedia entry on Musical Form

The Beatles – a musical appreciation and analysis – by composer, Howard Goodall


Luciano Berio – Circles The form of the composition itself expresses a circle.

Graphic scores of works by Iannis Xenakis and GyörgyLigeti

Musical Systems  by Anthony Braxton

Eleanor Rigby analysis



What is a Music Workshop?
A Music Workshop is a regular meeting of musicians with a twofold purpose: 1) Create a body of work that allows musicians to come together in order to share ideas and to learn from one another. 2) Develop an artistic integrity as composers and performers. On Friday, Jan 13 we’ll start our class with a Music Workshop meeting in which all of you will come with an original Music/Sound composition completed.

1 – Choose one of your favorite designs.

2 – From the design “Extract” a shape that can be transformed into a musical form. Circular, Columns, etc… Write down a form that will determine the shape and flow of the piece.

3 – Inspired in the design, write down a list of musical or sound elements that could form a composition: Melody, Rhythm, Harmony, Form, Technique (sound collage, pop song, classical mood… anything goes!) Write a short statement explaining your choices.

4 – With the Form described in 2- and the elements described in 3- compose a musical/sound piece that is 1 minute long max. The media can be digital or a live performance.

5 – If your piece is in a digital format, please upload it to SoundCloud and send the link to both instructors.

Any form of production will be valid. If you want to edit sound you can use any software (Adobe audition is free to all of you) or Pro-Tools, Logic, Garage Band. If you are inclined to live performance, go for it! The question here is to design a musical or sound “experience” than can be as valid as a conventional musical piece (which, of course, is also acceptable!)

Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus

Charles Mingus’ Jazz Workshop

In Mingus’s Jazz Workshop the exploration never stopped. Rehearsals could go for days. Performances, if not up to his standards, might be interrupted for the leader to correct a musician, re-chart the course of the music, or admonish the audience for talking.

week 1 | Design Studio



The History of Visual Communication (Material of a class at Sabanci University, Istanbul)

Ellen Lupton: Thinking with Type Definitions and terms of the dicipline.

The MAGCULTURE blog ongoing and relevant news about publishing and design.

Current attempt of a definition & discussion of a discipline Multiple Sigantures by Michael Rock



Meaningless Sounds by Lea Letzel. Part of the FORTY FIVE SYMBOLS exhibition 2014

Zimoun Swiss artist who lives and works in Bern, Switzerland. A self-taught artist, he is most known for his sound sculptures, sound architectures and installation art that combine raw, industrial materials such as cardboard boxes, plastic bags, or old furniture, with mechanical elements such as dc-motors, wires, microphones, speakers and ventilators.


What is a Design Studio?
How do designers learn and what is our language/culture in class? On Friday, Sept 5, we will start our class with a “typical design” studio which is a mix of critiques done by instructor and peers. Please come to class with the following prepared:

1. Choose one of your favorite songs.
2. Select a line or a full strophe.
3. Choose 4 out of the 8 typographic systems to organize the words.
4. Format: 7×7 inches.
5. Make sure to use the same amount of text for all your designs
6. You are free to add color and photos, select fonts and materials.
7. Crop your design work.

It does not matter (at all!!) how you produce this. You might use professional design software (ADOBE), any other software, or use pen and paper only. (Use white paper, newspaper, print with potatoes – use what you feel comfortable using)
The presentation of the 8 typographic systems will be shared with you in a google folder.


Think about ways to create an online dictionary. No need to bring anything to class just think about examples – maybe something you see online – that seems to be fitting our purpose of creating the music/design archive.

Philharmoniker Hamburg – Sound logo The skyline of a city and its reflection is shaped into a soundwave. A designer, a composer and a sound engineer create this sound logo for the Philharmoniker Hamburg.