speak music speak design

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 EAT DIE 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


Ellen Lupton explains the grid:

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

Viking Eggeling: Symphonie Diagonale

More about Eggeling and his work

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

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

Google celebrates Fischinger


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: 1280×1024 pixel
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 shared google folder “00 Readings” called “Explore Rhythm”. Plus chapter 1 & 2 of “Understanding Comics” to explore visual language.

Plan a visit:

NY Art Book Fair

week 2 | Music Workshop – 2017



Designing a Music Font – By Daniel Spreadbury – New standard SMUFL created by the Dórico – Steinberg music notation software team.

Lynda.com Music Software Playlist – Video tutorials of most common music applications.  Here‘s the link to create a free account at Lynda.com with your New School email.

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 Tuesday, September 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 your favorite 7×7 piece from the works from last week’s assignment. Not your work, but somebody else’s.

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, tag it with #speakmusicspeakdesign 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.
8. Bring a physical print/copy to class and upload a PDF/picture to the shared google drive before class.

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.

Create accounts on Instagram and SoundCloud and post one image or sound per day. Comment on one image or sound per day. Email both accounts to Pascal & Alexis. Our lens for the first week is: Science.

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.