4th March 2005 at 00:00
KS 2-3

Some artists, such as Kandinsky, have produced abstract works in response to music; playing classical music to pupils as a stimulus for their artwork is not unusual. Why not try it the other way round by using an artist's work as a basis for a carefully planned musical score?

This critical studies activity will require pupils to study the artwork very closely.

Select from those that are composed on a geometrically based "system", providing variations of shape and colour within a regular grid or striped formation. This is an ideal way of focusing pupils on abstract "hard-edged" artwork produced in the 1960s by artists such as Victor Vasarely (see "Vega-Gyongiy-2" or "Orion K") or Bridget Riley.

In groups pupils must make choices about which sounds will be used to represent the shapes, colours, tones and textures that appear in the work.

For instance, light blue might be one sound, dark blue another; a rectangle might be a sound from one instrument and a circle a sound on another instrument. Percussion and simple woodwind can be used - or even electronic instruments - to produce novel sounds, according to the age range.

Once the relationships have been established the work of art dictates the sequence in which sounds are played. For instance, when the forms or colours recur in the pictures the sounds will be repeated, perhaps varying in strength or length according to changes in the artwork. If shapes overlap or interweave, so will the sounds. Thus the work of art can be produced as a musical score and "played" using the notation derived from the art work. Be prepared for some unusual sound pieces.

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