நான் நேசிப்பதும் சுவாசிப்பதும் உன் தயவால் தானே; ஏங்குகிறேன் ஏங்குகிறேன் உன் நினைவால் நானே.
I love and breathe because of you, I yearn and long thinking of you.
(Song: Vaseegara, Movie: Minnale (Tamil), Director: Gowtham Menon, Music: Harris Jayaraj Lyrics: Thamarai, Singer: Bombay Jayashree )
The Love story between music and fashion is a well-documented one. Be it Punk, heavy metal, grunge or even classical, music has always been one of the biggest influences of Fashion. Music induced voluntary synesthesia has motivated many designers to create both avant-garde as well as ready to wear – everyday pieces. Yours truly is no different and my most successful collection till date ‘Ragamala stands testimony to that fact. However, then I had only concentrated on reviving the artwork of ragamala than trying to be inspired just by the music. Recollecting my MA Thesis that was based on Sensazione, I challenged myself to see if I could create jewelry with just the sound as my reference point.
Can Music or rather sound influence design? Can it conjure up shapes, colors, textures, spacial arrangement and forms?
Incidentally, Valentine’s day contest at the Chennai bloggers Club came up, where pairs of bloggers were challenged to write about love and its expression through their chosen genres of blogging. My partner is Vidya Dev, a Carnatic music blogger who authors The Pensieve and we decided to write about the relationship between music and design through a Carnatic raga (musical node).
Music to Jewelry – Song selection
My idea was to choose one Carnatic raga (via a movie song created based on the raga) and hopefully explore its tone, rhythm, mood, and expression in terms of elements of Design. Furthermore using the selected colors, materials, and forms I would create jewelry. Vidya suggested romantic ragas like Kaapi and reethigowla and I, through my research added Madhuvanti, Hindolam, and Chandrakauns to the list. They were all lovely, nonetheless, there was a catch. They were all difficult to convert into designs for jewelry. The issue was not with the songs or the nodes per se but with me.
Even though I have learned Carnatic music, veena, Bharathanatiyam dance, and sung in the school choir for over 5 years I am not a music person and I do not really enjoy it much. Music is something that agitates me, makes me work faster that I regard it more as a demanding master rather than a beloved companion. Moreover, when I tried imagining designs for a film song the visuals of the video clouded my judgement, making the inference too direct. But on the other hand, instrumental pieces were far too abstract and I could not wrap my head around them.
Frustrated, I tried another approach. I cleared my head and thought of the first romantic song that came to mind. It was Vaseegara from Minnale – my all time favourite song. Vaseegara is a beautiful, timeless song with a haunting melody based on Natabhairavi raga and yet horribly choreographed and shot. It has slithering tones as Asavari (Natabhairavi’s Hindustani equivalent) is linked to snakes, forests, and enchantresses making it more tone than rhythm dependent. So whenever I heard the song with my eyes closed I would see colors (blues and whites), shapes (loops and linear forms) and textures (smooth, reflective, glassy) and not the horrendous incoherent picturisation of the video (Just my personal view, so do not kill me!). Viola! I realised that vaseegara was the perfect song for this exercise.
Music to Jewelry – Design Process
Colour selection: I usually see opalescent whites and blues with hints of golden yellow when I hear this song. However as I listened to Natabhairavi raga I thought of tints, tones, and shades of purple. I was also discussing this song at work when my department assistant (a woman) said: “Vaseegara can only be pink as it is a sensual romantic song” whereas another designer friend and fellow teacher (a man) said vaseegara could only be a “peacock green” as it reminiscent of a soft peacock feather. It was interesting to note how each of them perceived the song very differently. Nonetheless, I was a bit confused on how to proceed. So I did the sound to shape exercise that I ask my first year EOD students to do.
Sound to shape exercise: In this basic Elements of the design exercise, you draw lines while listening to the music once, in one sheet of paper. The lines are selected to based on the tone, mood, rhythm of the song. To extract shapes, selected spaces are colored, usually in grayscale. But I used the above-discussed colors while listening to the song a second time. Finally, I selected the required elements of design through process of elimination.
EOD once again – Choosing the design elements
Colors & textures: Apart from yellow, ultramarine, and brown I retained the other colors but I decided to use them all as mere accents to silver (gray of the lines). I chose materials like smooth tinted glass, textured glass, MOP shell and coated reflective crystals. I also added shiny silver wire and crinkled silver Rolo chain to the mix.
Line, Shape, and space: The shapes selected were teardrops, rounds, spikes that dipped down (or went up), and rectangular blocks. The lines chosen were loopy, knotty, with graceful, long, sweeping fluid lines thrown in the mix. With the shapes decided, it was time to look at the spatial relationship and spatial arrangements. For a major portion of the song, the spatial relationship is interlocked spaces – with notes and rhythm swinging from one to another. However, towards the end, it is long and sweeping, connecting all the elements together – reminding me of spaces linked by a common space.
Inspiration to realisation – Mood Vs Trends
Whenever you create a design there is always a dilemma – whether to go with the mood/theme of the inspiration or to stick to the current/future fashion trends or third, find a way to somehow blend both. This song has various moods to it – the soft, gradually flowing romance, playful affection, the dark melancholic longing and finally the steamy passion. I picked flowly romance with a bit of dark and deep longing.
Form Selection – To depict the soft romance with hints of darkness, I needed a structure that would be long and linear, sweeping and yet knotty, elegant and yet playful. After dismissing scores of ideas, I settled on the Lariat structure which could fulfill all my requirements. The knotty wire component signifying interlocked spaces could become the clasp and the chain linking all the beads could represent the spacial arrangement – spaces linked by a common space. Moreover, thin and long Lariat necklaces with cascades of beads are the current trend and the one I made for the JANABS challenge was well appreciated.
The actual making part was quite simple and took 15 minutes to loop everything together. When we buy jewelry (or any designed product) we tend to only consider only the actual making time of product for costing. But in reality, it is the ideation process that takes so much time and is hardly ever compensated for. Each design has an untold story behind it and the process of design evolution is as important to the maker as the product itself. I, no we as designers do it, because we breathe in the trends, are passionate about design, yearn to try out new techniques, and just long to touch and feel the materials just like how the heroine feels about the hero in this song. That, in my opinion, is true love.
Now that I have come to the end of this post (whew!) I feel that it is more of a design process lesson than a blogging challenge. Well, it does have a semester’s worth of design basics in it. 😀 Though the designer in me feels that the final necklace could have been better, the EOD teacher in me hopes that it would help design beginners navigate through the process of ideation and creation. I await your feedback as usual. So tell me in the comments, if you were ever inspired by music to create and if so how was the experience? Do hop to Vidya’s blog to read about romantic carnatic ragas.
I hope you found it interesting