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Music and Visual Elements

Claudia Miclaus
Can you also "see" a musical piece or do you belong to those who don't associate images with music? The following gives you some more on this subject.
In this 21st century we could hardly conceive music without any visual support. Each song usually has a video, in the case of music with lyrics; in the case of electronic music, we may be familiar with the idea that for instance, electronic music parties all have visuals.
So we do not dissociate music from images. And these images are usually in motion. But of course, things were quite different in the past.
Thus, we could mention Herder who wrote in his "Kalligone" that the world of sounds annihilates the visual world. Nietzsche also said that everything that makes up the visible world looks for its lost soul inside music. Ribot was still a bit more cautious about this theory.
According to him, those who have a good musical culture love music have no visual representations when listening to their favorite kind of music. Any association between music and mental representations maybe accidental and temporary.
People sharing this mentioned idea say that they cannot see anything while listening to music. They got too much lost in the world of the sounds, following the rhythm and harmony of the musical performance to create any visuals in their minds.
They see nothing but only listen; they belong entirely to the world of their very own impressions. In this respect, some say that the main purpose of music is to amplify our predominant, innermost feelings and thoughts.
According to the same Ribot, those who do not possess too much musical culture and have a rather undeveloped musical taste, can indeed have very clear musical representations. For instance, if someone hears a military march in the distance, that person is likely to imagine a marching regiment.
Or while listening one of Beethoven's sonata, one may imagine a noisy place, or a storm. So Ribot considers that there is a powerful antithesis between visual and sound imagination. We could say also that there is an opposition between the arts of time and the arts of space.
Music, the emotional language, is a chain of sounds, a sign of mental states that in order to be understood must awaken in the human conscience the corresponding affective moods.
The events pass through the composer's spirit and trouble him, and he in return comes up with a musical variant of his inner life. Nonetheless, as Delacroix puts it, there are certain individuals for which music needs to be associated with visual elements.
For these people, the imagery can take up the form of a little drama, of a highly emotional story. The form of music can determine the form of the story. The same as emotions, imageries can also depend on the rhythm and the variation of the sounds.
Also, we may be aware of the fact that there is certain dissociation between thinking and imageries. Our capacity of thinking can really function without a ceaseless chain of imageries. The image can represent only fragments of spirit.
But in order for the human brain to create or re-create certain images when listening to music, it needs to be rested, to be in a sort of vital, enthusiastic state. Otherwise, if the person feels too tired, he/she is even incapable of remembering things under the form of visuals.
As far as musicians are concerned, their views on this matter may be quite different. Whereas some say that musical experts do not have visual representations of musical pieces, that is one of the things amateurs do, other musicians agree with quite the opposite, that music and images are strongly related, and there cannot be one without the other.
Rhene-Baton for instance said that when he composed his pieces, he used to see things and gestures; and this also happened whenever he listened to a musical piece.
For most of musical experts, who focus a certain musical piece was composed and how it is played, there can well be no need of any visuals to support their perception of music.
But for many people, music and visual elements are strongly related. Thus, the imageries created in people's minds by the sounds they listen to can form a little drama, a short story with emotional content.