There is amusing hero in nice fairy tale "Alice in the Wonderland"
of Luis Carrol, who draw all what begun with letter M: Mother, Man,
Mouse and also Multitude etc... But even the hero did not come to the
idea to draw "music". Is it possible to freeze the moment and give a
memorable description of uncautchable sounds? To all appearances, it
have been since long ago that the question worried the people.
If the novel of Soviet writer V. Shklowsky about painter Fedotov is true
the later, being mortally ill, flabbergasted his servant with unexpected
question "How draw music?" The servant allegedly answered in embarassment
"It seems to me one should paint walking soldiers playing tubes". This
is the very way musical thematics is most often reflected in many
Russian and foreign albums, being published under intriguing title
"Music and painting".
But there is no wonder in such approach, very similar to Fedotov's servant
receipt, because it provides imprinting only the sound producing process,
not the music itself. More close to music are the works of the painters
who try to illustrate plot of program pieces. Let us recall the example
of German painters M. Schwinds, M. Klinger, their pictorial depicting of
music by Bethoveen, Brams, etc. But in this case too one is alerted
by noncoincidence between concrete character of visible painting and
inconcrete, abstract character of audible musical soundings.
But may be it is impossible at all to paint music and the very combination
of words "music drawing" is as absurd as "fryed water"? May be it is
not any sense to try opening locked gate? But the poetical experience
is of great help to us in this case. It turns out that "seeing music"
is quite accessible and natural for poetical imagination. But indeed
the poets "see" in figurative meaning that is in mind, in imaginatory
colours, not really:
Blue sound of flute
So childish tenderly little
Dull beat of drum
Triumphantly scarlet sounding of kettle-drum.
These verses are written by Russian poet Balmont early in this century.
The ability to compare, to confront visual and auditory impressions is
called "synesthesia". In the case the coloristic aspect of visual
impressions is emphasized,or, more specifically, when visible component
of the association is limited with color, they usually use another,
more vivid and possibly lightly embarrassing term "colour hearing".
We have to use the term too. But one should have in mind the very expression
"colour hearing" is metaphorical one and that it goes here about
associations (more specifically intermodal associations), i.e. about
product of creative imagination. Our focusing on intermodal metaphors
in poetry and in art of word in a whole allowed noticing one more
interesting fact: painters, poets are able to "see" music not only in
colours. The imaginatory "portrait" of music features often also complex
graphical, plastic forms. Here is the example of perceiving music by
enthusiastic, enamoured young man, hero of novel "Cadets" by Russian writer
A. Kuprin: The entrancing valtz was flowing... It seemed someone was
juggling innumerable diamonds and spreading out wide streaps of blue
velvet, with golden spangles raining down from above.
Please, notice words "it seemed".
Both colours in abovementioned verses and play of diamonds in novel by
Kuprin are "seeming", i.e. it goes not about actually seen objects (in
another case we would face trivial hallucinations). Each of us has its
own unique "seemingnesses", but we all understand both Balmont and Kuprin,
this meaning they imaginary "light-musical" pictures feature something
common, common to all mankind.
And what about the idea to try to draw all these "seemingnesses"
arising at listening music? In this case it would be easier to notice
and reveal the common, i.e. correlations of synesthetic thinking. This
was the way Kazan Institute "Prometei", being engaged in realising
light-musical experiments for 35 years, came to the idea of drawing
music. Researching synethesia, colour hearing our team questionned
members of all creative unions of USSR in 70s! We, then, decided
to question also ordinary children, this being the result of our
understanding that "colour hearing" is not unique ability of selected
geniuses, but characteristic of creative imagination common to all
people. Why did we choose children? The reason is that "all children
are poets", in contrast to adults who have usually lost their
inclination to creative imagination surpressed by everyday problems.
Jokes apart it was after these researches that we came to the idea to
switch to "drawing music" to compare the results with questionning data.
And it turned out that experiments with "drawing music" are useful not
only for psychologists, but also for training and artistic education
of children! It was familiarizing with proceedings of well-known
congresses "Farbe-Ton-Forschungen", had being held in Germany late in 30's,
works of German painters H. Myer-Tur,V. Behm and activity of Vienna's
school "Der Musikalische Graphik" that helped us to understand these
The investigations held by Institute Prometei was supervised by long-ago
graduate of Kazan Conservatory Irina Vanechkina, who had drawn in the
experiments her pupil Irina Trofimova. 20 years passed since those days.
The pupil turned out to be not worse than her teacher. Her school
experiments were awarded at All Union competition of student works yet
in those times. This theme became later the theme of her degree work,
the later being the basis of her candidate thesis. But really is this
the only case? The unusual experiments have been held till now and new
generation of students and school boys and girls are engaged in them.
The results were shared by authors with participants of many local,
All-Russian, All Union and international conferences.
But the beginning was not so easy. In the context it is worth recalling
one more fairy tale, the modern one this time. I mean the fairy tale
"Musicians from Nemukhino", written by V. Kaverin. The main heroine of
the book is also the young teacher, who felt as a burden standard
recommendations of Ministry of Educatuion. It is to her liking too,
such verses as that of Balmont. But her wonderful methodics
is reverse to ours. She teaches children to see imaginary music looking
at blue sky, red son: "The blue sounding of flute..." And the school's
director is the former drummer who is totally deaf and blind to "colour
hearing". The phrase "The triumphantly scarlet sound of kettle-drums"
is absolute nonsense for him. He scoffs, mocks at young teacher.
He invented, finally, chicanery odering young teacher to perform concert
of "colour music". She felt in trance because she thought it is
impossible to make imaginary music audible to all.It was smith Ivan
Hildebrand who came to her aid forging voices to her colour instruments.
As a result the drummer of exalted rank run away from the concert
disgraced by his disbelief in wonder.
Our young teacher Irina Trofimova have initially experienced a lot of
troubles too. Children liked lessons of "drawing music", but her senior
colleagues, school administration had regarded them with suspicion, and
even with indignation at first. But she was lucky because her teacher
I. Vanechkina and young "smiths" from Institute Prometei were always
side by side to her.
Be that as it may, when 10-15 years ago Moscow directors from national
TV, asked our help in making feature film based on the fairy tale
"Musicians from Nemukhino", I proposed them, with naive joy, including
in the film both lessons of "drawing music" and "smiths" in electronic
laboratory. I even proposed to use as perfomer of main heroine her
prototype. Almost all proposals were realized in film, but actress
playing role of main heroine remained Moscovite as proposed by
metropolitan directors. Let it pass. The main thing is that the film
is also triumph of our group, our ideas. So we were really convinced
by practice that "drawing music" is wonderful method of polyaesthetical
education, development of fantasy and imagination. This is
excellent way to make obvious the unperceivable and the unstable.But the
very main thing is the fact that "drawing music" techniques helps us
getting deeper and subtle insight in essence of the music itself, its
form and content. This is the point teachers and pupils are unanimous
about... In next future one will be able to get information on
all these items so to say at first hand. The matter is that two our nice
authors, two Irinas, Vanechkina and Trofimova have recently prepared the
book with similar title "Children draw music". The title is modest and
simple. The book is in Russian. It is plentifully illustrated with
children drawings. Several of them are provided here.
Language of "musical graphics" needs no translation.
This text has been published as announcement in a journal
"Kazan", 1998, N 3, pp.129-137, [in Russian].
Below there are some illustrations from this book, for
W. A. Mozart. Symph. N 40, part 1.
(L. Sheveleva, 12 years old, school N 116, 1977)
W. A. Mozart. Symph. N 40,
(A. Bakeyeva, 13 years, sc. N 116, 1978)
|R. Schumann. Noble Waltz,
from cycle "Carnival".
(E. Murzenkova, 13 years, sc. N 116, 1979)
|N. Paganini. Caprice N 17.
(I. Mashinskii, 11 years, Art school N 6, 1987)
M. Musorgskii. Cycle "Pictures from Exhibition":
(T. Zakirov, 19 years, Art college, 1996)
(N. Shadykhanova, 18 years, Art college, 1996)
(R. Nigmatullina, 16 years, Art college, 1996)
A. Scriabin. Fortepiano piece "Dark Flame":
G. Mudrov, 12 years, Art studio, 1987.
N. Soldatova, 17 years, Art studio, 1987.
Tatar song Sibele chechek.
G. Nuriakhmetova, 18 years, Pedagogical University, 1994.
"Curai Melody: An Eastern Motif".
A. Khaziev, 16 years, Art college, 1994.
Music by Sophia Gubaidulina:
to M. Tzvetaeva.
T. Salihov, 18 years,
Art college, 1998.
I hear.. fall silent.
G. Abdullina, 20 years,
Art college, 1998.
Light and Dark.
I. Vaneeva, 20 years,
Art college, 1998.
V. Afanas'ev, 19 years, Art college, 1998.
E. Molicheva, 19 years, Art college, 1998.