Translating Art to Music
For Grades 3–8
Table of Contents
If you are not a music teacher, enlist your school’s music teacher for help with this lesson, if needed.
(French, born Russia, 1885–1979)
Colored Rhythm, 1958
Oil on canvas
45 x 34 1/4 inches (114.3 x 87 cm)
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Gift of Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1964
Background Information for Educators
- Use a work of art as inspiration for the creation of a musical piece
- Create music looking at colors, patterns, and rhythms in visual art
- Create a song using Sonia Delaunay’s Colored Rhythm as source material
- Students will design a fashion item and matching car using Delaunay’s example as inspiration (see Optional Additional Activity for Grades 7–12)
- Artists in Depth (AID) PowerPoint
- Musical instruments (drums, shakers, string instruments, etc.)
- Display Slide #13 and introduce Sonia Delaunay to your students.
- Display Slide #14, featuring Sonia Delaunay’s Colored Rhythm.
- As a class, decide on a number of beats for each of the colors within Sonia Delaunay’s painting. For example: two beats = red, four beats = black, etc. Have these displayed on a chalkboard or posters that can be easily read by the students.
- Ask the students to imagine stepping inside the artwork. What music would they hear?
- Have students suggest a different instrument to represent each color. For example: snare drum = red, shakers = black, etc.
- Point to each color and choose a student to play the instrument that accompanies the color for the designated number of beats. For example, when pointing to red, the student will play two beats on the snare drum.
- Then have students play their “colors” in a variety of patterns. (There are many possibilities: warm colors only, then cool colors only, play them in the order of the spectrum, etc.) Create a small musical composition from the patterns that the students have practiced.
For the writing assignment, ask the students to write a title and lyrics for the musical compositions they created.
Sonia Delaunay also used her unique designs to create clothing, and even a car! For inspiration, display Slide #15, which features a photograph of the artist in one of her fashion designs, standing next to a car she designed. Have students work individually or together to design a fashion item and a matching car like Sonia Delaunay did.
- New York State Learning Standards for the Arts (Visual Arts, including the museum visit) 1 (also in Music), 2, 3 (also in Music), 4
- College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Language 1, 3, 6
- College and Career Readiness Core Anchor Standards for Reading 1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11 (New York only)
- College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Speaking and Listening 1, 2, 4, 5, 6
Audio for Younger Students
Audio for High School Students
Spotlight on the Collection—Artists in Depth: Picasso, Braque, Léger, Delaunay
Presented by The Buffalo News
January 21–June 5, 2011