Speak Music Speak Design

spring 2019

Final Exhibition

Exhibition Prep

Design a poster/flyer:

Speak Music Speak Design
Final Exhibition
Tuesday, May 7th, 1-2.30pm
Academic Entrance 63 Fifth Ave
Room L106

Print ten posters/flyers and distribute them all over campus. Post a digital version to social media.

Upload a digital version of the poster to the class folder “Exhibition” by Wednesday 6pm.

Final Project

Upload your Project Statement to the class folder “Final Project”.

Include a documentation of the project that includes 5 images of the process and 5 images of the the outcome. You can also add a video that explains your process/project.

Inspiration on typographicposter.com

week 12 | Field trip: Chelsea

Prepare Field Trip

We will meet in front of 529 W 20th Street at 12.45pm. Let us know if you need more time to travel to the location. Everybody will guide the class to one of the exhibitions and give a 2 min intro:

1—Mercy takes us up to floor 10 and introduces:
Sopheap Pich, “The World Outside”
Tyler Rollins Fine Art
529 W 20th Street
Pich says “this exhibition can be thought of as a musician’s album, with each ‘song’ or artwork standing for the various things I think about on a daily basis. But when they all come together, they have an emotional rhythm and narrative structure that shows a journey through the relationship between personal reflection and the external objects or events that we experience which are accepted by our mind but exist independently of it.”  I’m interested in how Pich has translated his experiences through this collection of sculptures, making it physical, and am intrigued by his comparison of his work to an album.

2—Merce and Leo take us to the next place (downstairs) and give a 2 min intro
Nadav Kander, “Dark Line – The Thames Estuary”
529 West 20th Street
Flowers Gallery
On view for the first time in the United States, the works in this exhibition mark a shift towards the use of new image formats and an expanded use of media. Alongside the photographs are column-like steel water tanks, containing submerged objects extracted from the river, and a video installation The Edge of the Stream, with music specially commissioned by German-British composer Max Richter.

3—Iris and Ke take us to the next place and give a 2 min intro:
Walid Raad, “Sweet Talk Beirut”
Paula Cooper Gallery
521 W 21st Street
In a large-scale video work consisting of kaleidoscopically mirrored loops, dilapidated buildings silently crumble into clouds of debris. As the playback reverses, the buildings reemerge from their ruins, only to crumble again. The footage is derived from video documentation of hundreds of buildings being demolished to make way for the new, glittering postwar city center.

4—Idil and Brittany take us to the next place and give a 2 min intro:
Paula Scher “The Art of Map Design”
501 W 23rd St
Jim Kempner Fine Art
For this exhibition, the maps from the last decade feature different sets of data, such as transportation flows, trade routes, climate, and population demographics. Coupled with her unique use of color, script, and scale, this use of visual data creates what she has described as being “informational and sensory overloads.”


5—Emil takes us to the next place and gives a 2 min intro:
Paul Kolker, “About Space… Synthèse”
511 West 25th Street
Paul Kolker Collection
This show looks at “how we perceive the illusion of three dimensional static space in a two dimensional canvas; while using a sculptural control group of volumetric pyramids of spheres. Kolker’s artistic focus is on the technological evolution of the television, computer and smart phone screens and how we see our real world re-formatted as a display of dots; or diodes.” This just looks like an interesting show, with themes that we’ve talked about in class. (Emil)

6—Karen and Erika take us to the next place and give a 2 min intro:
Martin Kersels: “Cover Story”
534 W 26th Street
Mitchell-Innes & Nash
I’m really interested in Kresels’ use of pop culture references and familiar objects to create sculptural pieces. This idea relates back to a similar theme my group and I have been thinking about: recontextualization. Through bringing the mundane and familiar to the forefront of our attention, and through the meshing of many different pop culture references, the way we relate to what we are seeing changes, thus changing the meaning. (Karen)”

7—We will end at Printed Matter where you have time with your group  to browse publications and discuss your project.

If you have time on your way home, make a stopover here:

Fears of Art
251 W 19th Street
Ethan Cohen Fine Arts
(Mercer:) Ai Wei Wei is sick.  Idk many visual artists but he’s one I do know, and this exhibition looks really interesting; could connect to what we talked about in class regarding universal(ish) accessibility to audiences, since its about primal, basic human fear.  So actually maybe not accessible to caterpillars. But definitely humans.

week 11 | Preparing a field trip

Due Friday, April 12

For our visit to Chelsea on April 16, select three exhibitions you are interested in and post a link to the gallery into this document. Add one sentence how this is relevant to the class or the final project.


Probably the best and quickest overview:

Overview with a map:


Due Friday, April 23

As a group, prepare a prototype of your final project and prepare a ten minute presentation.

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?
  • What will your collaborative process be?
  • What is the context of this work? Are there precedents in history or current practice?
  • What is your production schedule?

Write a project statement (using WHAT, SO WHAT, WHAT NOW — about 400 words) and upload it with a documentation of your prototype to the folder 06 Final Project.

week 9 | Final Project Pitches

My idea for the final project is to create a “catalog” that examines different tools that we use to create music and art. By using the medium of a catalog, which is often used in a commercial setting intended to sell or explain products to people, I want to question our (the group’s) and the viewer’s perceptions of what tools means to us and why we use them to create.
Through the process of comparing and contrasting these tools, and creating our own descriptions and definitions of them which are not tied to commercial aspects, we will come to a new understanding of these tools and how they relate to the process of creation through our catalog. The viewers will also come to their own understanding of these tools through examining our work and questioning their own views.

I’m interested in how people perceive sound wether it be through paintings, tarot cards, photography or video or a combination of these mediums. My question is how do we use sound and design, with certain products and still make it personal or relative the viewer (maybe astrological) weather they paint what they hear or a sound is played based off a card they choose or they choose the sound as well.

My project idea 1 is about creating the taste of music by using different food elements to represent music elements. And then, cook the food while the music is playing.
The second project I have is to make an experimental film matches conversations in different languages.

My direction is going to be music and fashion, it is kind like a music video. Based on a song, the
outfits will changes by following the rhythm. The style of outfit and makeup will also changing.
Audience can enjoy the visual and sound at the same time, there is not too much concept in it, it
is just a straightforward visual enjoyment.

I’m interested in the gestures and interactions that occur between the human body and instruments. For example, when playing chords and scales on the guitar or piano, there is a particular movement and shape that one follows. I want to explore these patterns in the context of the everyday environment, find how the same gestures may exist outside of a traditional music environment, and look closely at our surroundings to find “arrangements” waiting to be discovered. The focus is on recontextualizing gestures and combinations that are associated with music, showing how they exist in different environments. For example, on a piano, when one spreads apart their hand to be able to span an entire octave, what would happen if that same gesture was used to press keys on your computer’s keyboard? Some other object? In terms of sound, I am interested in the rhythms and pitches we tend to just overhear– car alarms, construction work, etc. Essentially, I would like to re-examine the everyday environments around us while considering formal music elements.

I am interested in transforming familiar object and sounds into introspective experiences by changing their context. In doing so, I hope to subvert the meaning we have of a given object or sound. One way I see this panning out is through the creation of an immersive space in which viewers can re-experience the familiar but in a different setting. For example, the setting in which we experience a bed is usually a bedroom. But by having a bed on display in a museum, we reevaluate what “bed” means to us. It also forces us to consider the sounds a bed makes whereas in the context if a bedroom, the ruffle of a comforter would be white noise. 

For the final project I am interested in the influence sound has on design as well as the relationship between musician and designer. My project takes the form of the “telephone game” in which a sound is made by one artist, passed on to the next artist to create a visual response, and then passed off to another to create a musical response, etc. The concept of the project is that it would be never ending, constantly pushing the relationships we have between designer and musician. How would the sound of a café be interpreted in a visual? How would a visual of café be interpreted through sound? The answers and endless and subjective and will call for very interesting answers. The transformative experience from strictly auditory to strictly visual will allow viewers and listeners to further analyze each transition in order to understand how sound influences design and vice versa. All responses would be archived either through a digital landscape map or printed material.

For the final project, I want to explore composition. I want to take inspiration from composing for film, and then flip it on its head, by composing film for sound. While this is in a way what music videos do, I want to take it one step further, and make the film solely about the sound. I want the visuals to encapsulate what the sound is trying to convey, as well as melodies, rhythm, chord progression, etc. The final form of this may be multiple individual videos, or it may be multiple videos connected together by natural transitions. I want to use both classically and contemporary music for the project, and both found footage and footage that we shoot/have shot. I am open to ideas and input around how the product will take form. I am also open to
combining this idea with another idea, to create something more interesting or meaningful.

week 8 | The Dictionary Final


Teachable Machines

Teachable Machines in action


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

Bowed violin string in slow motion
Stunning bass string shot


Pitch your final project ideas individually to find collaborators
You have 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 two students. Be sure to be able to explain it in 2 minutes.
Use your Instagram & soundCloud feeds to post a picture or sound every day that is related to your Final Project idea. It can also represent a field of research you would like to explore in the context of this class.

week 6 | The Dictionary 3


Affected by your presence, a rope creates physical waves floating in front of you, hitting your perception as sound & light at once.E


Be ready to present a more advanced prototype in class. This prototype should introduce the first term. After feedback from the class you will add another two terms

week 5 | The Dictionary 2


The Dictionary

These are the questions to guide your discussion and help develop your proposals.

Social Justice
How could this project connect to existing communities?
How could this project create communities?
How could the audience participate/engage?
Who has access to this project and how could access be expanded?
What are strategies to document this project?

Which technologies could enhance this project?
How could automation (AI/Machine Learning) support this project?
Will the chosen technology still be relevant in 10 years?
Do the choices of media and technology speak to the audience?

Visual Design & Music
Does the project have a strong visual/acoustic identity?
Ideas to strengthen this?
Are visual design and music represented with same weight?
What could be done to push this?
Does the project talk to an audience within both discipline and beyond those? How could this be supported
Can you think of references within the history of music or design?

Critical/Creative Thinking
How does the project integrate untested and potentially risky directions? Could there be other approaches?
How does the project create new knowledge or knowledge that crosses boundaries? Are there alternative ways?
What does the audience learn about the intersection of design and music?
Is the project based on research? Do you have recommendations for additional resources?


Each group will present a very basic prototype of your dictionary using only one term you agree upon

Answer all questions in the left column. They help to write a project statement.

week 5 | The Dictionary 1


The Dictionary

We will investigate the concept of a “dictionary” 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 OpenCulture
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


1 — 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.

2 — 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.

3 — 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.

4 — 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.

5 — The dictionary can be interactive, performative, printed, projected, spatial, …

Next week each student has to pitch an idea for a dictionary. You can use a single visual or sound but are limited to two minutes. The idea of the pitch is to find collaborators.



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. And THIS is a great video by Wired Magazine exploring the psychology of some sound logos known buy us all.

Abstraction in Music: How does artistic Abstractionapply 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!)

Music Cryptogram: Explore what it is and if you can apply it to your assignment.


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 Translate Design” in our google docs page before class.

The “reading” for this week: Listen to at least one of the three episodes of WNYC’S “New Sounds with John Schaeffer — Music Inspired by Painters” Part 1Part 2 and Part 3




Oskar Fischinger: Kreise (excerpt) Realized with  GasparColorStudie Nr 8. More about Fischinger on CenterForVisualMusic

Viking Eggeling: Symphonie Diagonale. Paper cut-outs and tin foil figures were photographed a frame at a time. More information about Eggeling on MonoskopMore about Eggeling and his work

Ellen Lupton explains the grid:

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


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”.

The reading for this week is an article published in eye magazine:
Ghosts of designbots yet to come
Automated graphic design and the rise of robot creatives – Francisco Laranjo files a critical report from the perspective of Christmas 2025. Post five sounds/visuals as a response

week 2 | TRANSLATE Design


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 György Ligeti

Musical Systems by Anthony Braxton

Nathalie Miebach uses the data of storms to create visuals and music. Her homepage | article on brainpickings | Her TED talk

Eleanor Rigby analysis

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.


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!)

Keep adding to your visual and auditive diary — the reading that will inspire your posts for this week is in out shared google drive “week 2” Read the introduction, select a place in the city and perform exercise 1 & 2



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

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

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

typo/graphic posters is a platform for inspiration and promotion of good design through the poster culture.

Current attempt of a definition & discussion of a discipline Multiple Signatures 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? What is the language & culture in our classes at Parsons? On Tuesday, January 29, we will start our class with a “typical design studio” which is a mix of critiques given by instructor and peers. Please come to class with the following prepared:

  1. Choose one of your favorite songs and select a single line or a full strophe.
  2. Choose 4 out of the 8 typographic systems to organize the words using the software of your choice, or pen and paper or whatever means you consider appropriate.
  3. Your final artwork needs to be cropped to: 7×7 inches.
  4. Make sure to use the same amount of text for all your designs
  5. You are free to add color and photos, select fonts and materials.
  6. Again, don’t forget to crop your work.
  7. Bring a physical print/copy to class and upload a PDF/picture to the shared google drive before class.
  8. 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)

Your visual and auditive diary

  1. Create accounts on Instagram and SoundCloud
  2. Post at least five things per week: pictures or sounds as response to a weekly reading.
  3. Publish five comments per week connecting to the pictures or sounds of your peers.
  4. Email both accounts to Pascal & Alexis.
  5. We have two readings this week about the grid in communication design that you will find in our shared google drive.