I was recently involved in a conversation about synesthesia. This was particularly in the context of visualising different colours when listening to different notes.
I must admit that I have never really tried this myself, and nor do I think that this is something that I naturally do. Music for me is about moods and feelings. The mood I am in will reflect what music I want to listen to (and sometimes that will be not wanting to listen to music at all!).
Music also definitely reminds me of particular times and places. For example, hearing the following will instantly take me back to my days at University and drunken disco dancing in dubious nightclubs:
Even now, after a few drinks and feeling the need to dance, I unashamedly request these songs at the DJ booth (please try not to judge me too much!).
Interestingly I nearly always, without fail, listen to music when I am painting. With this in mind I have been trying to think about what it is that I listen to when I am painting. With the advent of electronic media I now always listen to music through my computer rather than using a CD player. This means that I rarely listen to a whole CD and tend to have my electronic music files on random shuffle.
When starting work on a new canvas I often need something that is upbeat which I do not need to concentrate on too much. This means that I can paint to the rhythm of the music, and sing along mindlessly, allowing full attention to be paid to the painting process in hand. Examples of this include:
I often listen to (what I consider to be) softer music when concentrating on finer, more detailed work. I need something that I can relax to that is not going to cause any abrupt movements. I often tend to do fine detailed work late into the night so there is also the added pressure of not making too much noise! Examples include:
(PS I thoroughly recommend the album 'ghosts' by Siobhan Donaghy which I, along with clearly only about four other people, brought when it came out. It is brilliant!).
When I feel that I am coming towards the end of a painting I tend to again listen to more upbeat music, often something that is a bit more sonically challenging. This is usually music that has a harder beat, has changes in pace, and integrates sound samples.
I feel that this makes me look at a painting when I consider that it is nearing completion and challenge this assumption. This can sometimes result in making rash decisions that will ultimately take the painting several steps back from completion. I increasingly find that I want to challenge paintings at this stage to try and move my practice forward and encourage experimentation. It sometimes pays off, but at other times makes things worse. Working in this way at least prevents things from becoming too routine. Examples of this include:
I am not sure what all of this says about me (apart from the fact that I have a questionable taste in music!). I do listen to a variety of music but these are the tracks that immediately came to mind that I often listen to at the moment. It is only when I have stopped to think about what I usually listen to at various stages of the painting process that I realised that the mood, tone and pace of music tends to be different depending upon what stage of the painting process I am up to, and how well or badly I feel that the work is going.
I work on my most of my paintings over weeks, and sometimes months, so I have simplified the timeframe and processes involved somewhat. It would be interesting to know if other visual artists have a similar relationship with music when creating artworks?