Picturing Music

One of the joys and challenges of this blog is to find ways to convey in words what a piece of music is like.  I usually try to paint ‘word-pictures’ and hope that this is successful in at least some small way.

How delighted I was to stumble across this post by Creative Review, which highlights an initiative by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to help make music more accessible to their audiences.

This post contains a number of YouTube clips, some of which are quite long in their entirety.  But I suggest you only need to play the first few minutes of each to get the sense of ‘music by pictures’.  Obviously, if you want to listen to the whole of the clips, feel free!

First is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the great Leonard Slatkin, playing the beautiful 4th Symphony by Brahams – the initial work featured in Creative Review’s write up about this very interesting development for musical appreciation. You should be able to set the YouTube clip going in one browser window and follow the TSO visual programme in another…

And here is Mozart’s Symphony 41 (Jupiter), played by The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt (the second featured work in CR’s write-up)…

I think it is an excellent development for audiences and would love to hear your views on it too.

In addition, how about this for picturing music? When searching for the Mozart clip, I found this…

Mesmerising, isn’t it?

Here’s another one for Beethoven’s glorious 5th Symphonyy…

And because I could not resist adding one more, here is Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody number 2…

I love the way these ‘sound-pictures’ add to the music’s sense of drama. I also think they provide a fascinating visual representation of the contrast in the nature of the different musical styles of these composers.  Do let me know if you agree – I’d love to hear your reaction to all of this. 😀

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4 thoughts on “Picturing Music

  1. Fascinating! The initiative by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra looks like it may be useful. I can see it would be useful when studying a piece of music. When I took my A Level music many years ago we had to uses unwieldy scores and I think I would have been very grateful for something like this!
    The sound pictures are beautiful and mesmerising as you say. Disney’s first Fantasia film from 1940 did a similar thing while the orchestra played Bach’s Toccata and Fugue but that was animated by hand.

    1. Ah yes, those heady days of score-study – I remember them well!! Being a visual person, I am sure, like you, that something along the TSO’s lines would have been beneficial.

  2. The bottom video reminds me of a celestial Guitar Hero. It’s a proper challenge to talk about music but you do it very well and I for one learn of lots of new pieces and long forgotten ones which is a constant pleasre.

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