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A Design Story : Part 3_Music & Design.

I used to get inspired for designs from music- Still do. When I say inspiration, I don't mean using music to set an ambiance to work in. Instead, I would break apart a song and convert it into visuals.

And for a long time, I could not articulate this process to anyone. I couldn't find the right words to write down the process that went through in my mind nor find an example to make it easier for another person to understand. Today, I think I have something that could make this easier.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of A R Rahman’s Music. I don’t listen to film music and his were my only exceptions. In the 90s, his music was way beyond its time but the way he used technology and international music movements in a regional context made him pretty popular as well. I loved reading about his process of creating music even though there is not much literature available on it. The way he layered his diverse sounds yet in cohesive synchronicity was meticulous. When I started listening to Rahman, music became something that I had to do with active concentration (Even now I am unable to listen to rahman and drive or work simultaneously). I started ripping each of these layers apart in my mind and since I was not technically trained in music, I gave each of these ripped-up sounds, a visual form. I will group similar sounds and give them some motion in my mind in sync with the music. All this became my first lessons in Motion Design! I started using colors to represent motifs, boxes to represent rhythm, and alphabets for vocals. All of this was processing in my mind while I listened to his tracks on our retro Philips HIFI CD Player.

Just to give you an idea of how these visuals took form- I made a small video clip here while listening to a portion from “Meherban from Tehzeeb”.

I hope this gives you an idea of what was happening inside and why the doors were always locked. 🙂 (ok, that is not true but no harm in trying!).

Later I would separate these movements from music and started using them in other design projects. A lot of my visual style of dirt, grain, micro shapes, and light glares are from Rahman’s music.

Music and Design might look seemingly like two completely different domains, but they always had a lot of common grounds when it came to harmony, composition, layers, contrast, and value. I was just privileged enough to explore it at the right time.

<to be continued.>


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