Music students integrate sound and music with art

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It started as an idea for Dr. Michael Austin, and then he turned that idea into a project for one of his classes after they visited the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art in Saint Joseph Mo.

Sarah Waters (right) a art student at Missouri Western is seen here explaining her soundscape to visitors.  Contributed Photo
Sarah Waters (right) a art student at Missouri Western is seen here explaining her soundscape to visitors.
Contributed Photo

Austin is the assistant professor of music and serves as Director of Music Technology and Audio Recording at Missouri Western State University.

After an audio tour of the museum, Austin made his students create their own interpretations of a visual art piece using music and sound.

Caroline Clark-Murphy is the coordinator of art education at the museum and she felt that the tour went well and the students came up with good work.

“The purpose of the audio tour was to allow students the opportunity to interpret visual arts through music and sound,” Murphy said. “After the tour, the students each chose a piece to interpret with different types of music and sound. The students created original works, some were more literal and others abstract. The project was a beautiful and engaging way to merge two different art forms. The end results were very impressive in scope and maturity.”

Murphy noted that the students’ work would not go unnoticed and she feels that the relationship with Missouri Western is something that she and the museum are proud to have.

“The project fostered a partnership between the university and the museum,” Murphy said, “which introduced the visitors to a new experience and provided the students the chance to have their work heard by an audience.”

“Additionally, the compositions will be used in the museum’s forthcoming audio tour, which will allow the students’ work to be accessed by many more individuals.”

Austin said that this idea was similar to a class that he took when he was in college. He thought that it would be a good idea to pass along to his students.

“It was actually born out of an idea that I had when I was an undergraduate student,” Austin said. “I was inspired by some paintings by Salvador Dali and others so I composed pieces based on the paintings.”

“As a graduate student, we did some projects in conjunction with the Dallas Museum of Art. We did a real big sound installation that goes with a major exhibit they had one summer.”

Austin noted that  art students do tend to stick with whatever their art major is at the time and integrating art can sometimes be new to students.

He was happy he could broaden his students’ intellect by showing them various ways to make good art.

“In the fine arts, we really focus on our own discipline,” Austin said. “If you are in music, you focus on music. And if you’re in art, you focus on art. But with the Internet and stuff out there, a lot of arts are integrated and there is a lot of multimedia and other collaborations going on. It is really nice for music students to be able to go out and experience other art works, and then relate the work we do to other fields.”

Amber Amaya majors in cinema and minors in music at Western. Amaya thought that the project was engaging and she felt that her painting was perfect for her.

“I was excited,” Amaya said. “I really liked it and thought it was a really fun project. The painting I chose kind of screamed emotion to me so that is what I based my instrumental on. It was really intense and I feel all of our projects made the paintings come to life.”

Graham Hardy said he took full advantage of visiting the museum. He said that he had fun working with others’ work and putting his own spin on it.

“I loved the project and thought it was really cool,” Hardy said. “It was cool going down to the art museum and being able to come up with a full interpretation of somebody else’s work. We had to take into account what kind of emotion the artist was trying to convey with it, while at the same time incorporating my own flavor and style of art.”

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