Swindon Artist
Swindon Artist

Music and painting: sister disciplines

Piano

Music and painting have a lot in common. Both are both non-linear careers that fall outside the realms of the everyday working week. I like to think of them as being spring- or coil-shaped careers; there are continuous cycles of edging forwards and retracing steps as each cycle of experimentation, making mistakes and learning progresses.

The hands of a painter or musician are sophisticated instruments that express subtle perceptions of tone, form and melody within the mind. But musicians/painters are not machines, and we have no on/off buttons. We have to live with the ebb and flow of inspiration and ideas. Ideas do crop up at unexpected times and inconvenient places, and it takes some skill and discipline to note these down and follow up in due course, when time allows.

The physicality of art and music is often overlooked. Sitting at a piano or standing at an easel for several hours requires a strong body as well as a fresh, focused mind. Sleep, exercise and good food are all-important, as is the ability to set a sensible pace of work according to the circumstances of each day. New images and musical pieces express so much about the people who create them, and therein lies much of the magic of the creative process.

Practice mileage is integral to both art and music. Interestingly, whilst we take it for granted that each concert pianist will have spent years of their life bashing out scales to develop their keyboard skills, we often forget that great painters spend years churning through sketchbooks to make their drawing more fluid.

It is no coincidence that painters and musicians take more than a passing interest in each other’s disciplines. Indeed, try their hand at both disciplines, which are, in essence, complimentary.

1 Comment
  1. This is an interesting point of view and one which certainly merits some further research.

    You can trace the discipline of music as a far back 6th Century, and most will be surprised to find it was placed within the second part of the curriculum alongside Geometry, Astronomy and Mathematics. The first methods of writing music down required a knowledge of maths and mensuration. Composers of some of the earliest forms of written music such as the Motet follow strict rules about counterpoint and structure. Specific mathematical structures such as the golden mean are clearly employed in the structure of these Motets by composers such as Machaut and Philip de Vitry. I know I’ve studied them! In fact, take a look at a Medieval musical manuscript – they are works of art, complete with elaborate and fine decoration!

    Geometrical laws naturally find themselves at the heart of Medieval architecture and art also. Many Medieval churches for instance follow proportions that are based around the golden mean. In our own times, the golden mean or section has been linked to beauty in nature and art.

    So yes you are right Dave art and music are sister disciplines and as it seems has been for centuries!

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