speak music speak design

week 9 | Final Project Studio


Aatish Bhatia
Aatish Bhatia writes about science at WIRED and Nautilus. He is an associate director and engineering educator at Princeton University’s Council on Science and Technology. He has a Ph.D. in physics from Rutgers University, and a B.A. in physics from Swarthmore College.
Aatish Bhatia Website
WIRED Article

Pacho Velez
Pacho Velez works at the intersection of ethnography, contemporary art, and political documentary. His work has been presented by the New York Film Festival, MoMA, and the Cable News Network (CNN). His last feature, Manakamana (with Stephanie Spray), won a Golden Leopard at the Locarno Film Festival
Pacho Velez website
The Sensory Ethnography Laboratory
Manakamana The Film

James Merle Thomas
James Merle Thomas is a San Francisco–based writer, editor, and curator. He is currently completing a dissertation in the Department of Art History at Stanford, where he researches intersections between art, science, and politics of the cold war. He was the 2011–12 Guggenheim Predoctoral Fellow at the National Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian Institution.
Tektite Revisited

Martha Rosler
Martha Rosler works in video, photography, text, installation, and performance. Her work focuses on the public sphere, exploring issues from everyday life and the media to architecture and the built environment, especially as they affect women.
Martha Rosler Website
Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), youtube

Latif Nasser
Latif Nasser is the director of research at Radiolab, where he has reported on such disparate topics as culture-bound illnesses, snowflake photography, sinking islands and 16th-century automata.
Latif Nasser Website
TED talks


Final Project Pitches:

Keep your presentations to a max of 15 min.
Make sure that all members of your group are actively involved in the presentation and talk to these questions:

How is your project related to “Observing the Everyday”?

Who is your audience?

What are the reasons for the channel of media / platform you select?

What is the context of this work? Are there precedents in history or current practice?

What is the role of each group member and how do you emphasize the collaboration of musicians and designer?

Why is this project meaningful to you?

How do you document your work?

What do you contribute to the symposium & what do you contribute to the publication?

What is your production schedule?

Write two paragraphs (max 200 words each): How do you want to contribute to the symposium (explain your presentation, performance, installation) and how do you want to contribute to the publication (documentation of symposium, short research paper…)

week 8 | 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.


Bowed violin string in slow motion
Stunning bass string shot


Tuesday, October 25th, 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 ideas individually to find collaborators
You have two minutes to present a previous work that reflects your interest and work methods.
You have another two minutes to articulate an idea for the final project. The only requirement we have 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. Be sure to be able to explain it in 2 minutes.

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

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.

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.

The dictionary can be interactive, performative, printed, projected, spatial, …
Your group has two weeks to develop this project:
OCT 18: Presentation of work in progress
OCT 25: Final Presentation

Dictionary Groups


Andy (Jason)




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

week 6 | Encyclopedia of Everyday Rhythms



1 – Find a general topic inspired by all images and sounds your group brought to class today. For example: Rhythms of the Body, Rhythms of Manmade Environments, Rhythms of Habits, Rhythms of Things, Rhythms of Culture

2 – Define at least five chapters for the dictionary

3 – Create three entries for the encyclopedia and create a mock-up using visuals and sounds. The encyclopedia can be interactive, performative, printed, projected, spatial

4 – Present your concept to the class in 5 min at the end of the session

We will investigate the term “encyclopedia” in the broadest sense. It can make use of any kind of media, including interactive, performative, printed, projected, spatial explorations. A few examples:

The Voynich Manuscript
BBC Article | High-res Scans, Yale University Library
Codex Seraphinianus
Article in WIRED magazine
All pages of the codex on facebook

THE GUARDIAN – The seven digital deadly sins

Oskar Schlemmer – The Triad Ballet
Article on Penccil
Video Documentation on Youtube (Remake 1970)

Dan and Lia Perjovschi
Economy and Collection of Care in Transition
Fischli and Weiss
History of the World

Oskar Schlemmer: Das Triadische Ballett
“The idea of presenting human beings on stage as adaptations of machines (as in Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet) soon encountered the more radical concept of a quasi-mechanical stage on which there are only forms, colours, light, sound and movement (as in Kurt Schmidt’s Mechanical Ballet from 1923).”
Documentation on Penccil

Week 5 | encyclopedia


The Voynich Manuscript
BBC Article about the manuscript and some trials of explanation.
All pages of the manuscript as high-res scans, Yale University Library

Codex Seraphinianus
Look Inside the Extremely Rare Codex Seraphinianus, the Weirdest Encyclopedia Ever by WIRED magazine.
All pages of the codex on facebook
Google for a PDF…

Links to projects that combine auditive and visual experience — provided by students:
Neil Balser
“Summer Is Gone” Live Website


Our google drive has a new document “Speak Music Speak Design Precedents”. Add a link to a project that intrigues you through a combination of auditive and visual stimuli.

For our next session: Bring five entries of your blog to class. Images should be printed and cropped (5 x 5 inches), sounds should be on your mobile device

Study at home:
Codex Seraphinianus: Luigi Serafini
The Voynich Manuscript
Fischli and Weiss – History of the World
Miebach – Data Sculptures: Transdisciplinary Collaboration

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 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


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.

Go visit:

NY Art Book Fair

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 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 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.


Microhabitats — Questioning the Everyday
To facilitate our collaboration in-class but also with other classes we will build archives documenting your MicroHabitat. You are expected to upload one picture or one piece of sound per day for the whole semester – think about a concept for this. Instead of posting random food-pictures you might want to observe your habitat through a specific perspective–for example Signage and Typography; Human expression in the subway; Tiny things you find in the streets–you can use the whole city for your investigation but you can also constrain your habitat (your room, your bag, a square, a street, …) We will use tumblr for these habitat documentations. Please install a new blog with a minimal theme that only shows your pictures on a white background. Good themes are: YUKI, WICKED, LOOKBOOK and JUSTIFIED.
Examples: http://microhabitats.org/blogs/

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.