See the Music

Make an abstract composition that visualizes music

Ask your students to view K.81 Combo (K.37 and K.43) large size , 2009. Ask younger kids what the shapes, colors and forms might sound like—for example, sharp, smooth, quiet, or loud. Play the Scarlatti sonata for your students while looking at the image:

Do they see any connections between what they’re listening to and what they see in this work?


a. Play a selection of music for younger students or ask older students to play music clips of their choice. List at least five adjectives that describe the quality of your music. For example, loud, cheerful, serious, aggressive, soothing, whimsical, somber, repetitive.

b. Ask students to use colored construction paper or card stock to cut, tear, rip, fold, bend, twist, or crumple paper forms and tape or staple them together to make relief sculptures that convey a sense of the sounds, energy, rhythm, and pattern of the music. Have students attach their paper shapes to chipboard, cardboard, or other type of sturdy support. Play the music on repeat as students are making their works.

c. Ask students to share their completed works. Review their list of adjectives. Does their sculpture communicate a sense of the music and the adjectives they selected?


A rounded sculpture with long tubes sticking out.

Frank Stella, K.81 Combo (K.37 and K.43) large size, 2009. Protogen RPT with stainless steel tubing, 180 x 192 x 120 in. (457.2 x 487.7 x 304.8 cm). Private collection. © 2015 Frank Stella/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York



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