Over the blackened moon. Tears of joy. What kind of emotions do these lyrics leave you feeling? Our collection project is about music and emotion. Byori and I paired up for this project. We love music. But the genres and styles were totally different. We were figuring out how to incorporate music into this project, and then we suddenly thought, how about we listen to the same songs and record our emotions throughout the duration of each song. To be able to record our emotions precisely, we first had to come up with a system. Our system was basically choosing 8 different emotions, and giving each of these emotions a color. The colors we chose were not randomly chosen but were rather chosen for their meanings concerning the moods and the ties each color has. We eventually ended up with the following color-coded emotions:

Red = Anger, Orange = Energy

Yellow = Joy, Green = Discomfort

Blue = Sadness, Purple = Fear

White = Calmness, Black = Empowerment

Byori and I decided to choose 5 songs each, so 10 songs in total, listen to each song carefully and record how we feel per second

Data collection

The chosen songs were pretty random, as in we had no plans or no idea what the outcome would be. It was a moment where we both randomly decided the songs and shared them. To literally illustrate how random these choices were, Byori used a Korean song (a song that had Korean lyrics.) I have no knowledge of Korean but googled a quick translation to understand what was being said in the song.

Part 1: Data Collection

After listening to 10 songs, the result was interesting. We had similar moods in some parts and different moods in others. The lyrics did affect our moods, but we also noticed that our moods were greatly affected by the changes in the melodies, pitches, and beats. We needed a graph or a visual representation of each song to help us figure out where the mood exactly changed. We went with soundwaves, which we derived from analyzing each song. The soundwaves graph provided us with a complete outlook on the longitudinal wave that represented the sound system

Generating soundwaves

Now that we had both the data we collected on our moods + the visualization of each song, we had to come up next with a visualized system to present this data. We’ve designed many iterations to communicate all the information we had in the best easiest way possible. The iterations we had were 17 in total. However, after receiving feedback over the course of the 6-weeks’ time period, we finally managed to narrow it down to 3 designs and then eventually to one design, which worked best.

Initial data representation and collection
Iterations 1
More Iterations

The final poster:

Final Poster

Part 2: Experience Documentation

Video: Sound of Color

We wanted the video to be based on the data we collected for the first poster. We thought that using a music box would be interesting, it can make sounds of 15 notes. It plays sound where a hole is punched on the line of each note. Because we had soundwaves, we punched holes where the soundwaves touched the lines. The color we chose for the sheets was based on the major mood associated with the song. We also designed the entire outer box out of clear acrylic to emphasize the color of the music sheets. For the box, we randomly placed English and Korean letters pulled out of the song lyrics abstractly, then took it to EPIC to laser cut it.

box design + finished design
Music box + Sheets
Video Documentation of the music box

Sound of Color video:

Part 3: Lyrical Poster

shapes and colors … words?

We struggled a bit to get to the design we wanted for the second poster. We wanted it to be abstract but at the same time interactive. Because we had the music box and the music sheets, we wanted to incorporate both but did not know-how. We tried multiple ideas such as laser cutting the lyrics and then projecting them into a wall, laser cutting sound waves, and even thought of using colored acetate to give our projection a colored mood.

The very first sketches we did for poster 2
Testing our initial poster design, which incorporated projection

We thought all of these ideas were still lacking to some extent. So, we finally ended up narrowing down the elements we wanted to use. Here are the keywords: paper, holes, lyrics, color, strips. While we were closely examining music sheets, and how we could cleverly use them, we realized that all the sheets had a pointy end, a triangular shape located at the very end of each sheet, and the notes of the musical alphabet.

Original Music sheet with Musical Alphabets
Categorizing words based on color moods (Song: Acid Rain by Avenged Sevenfold)
Digital prototype + Lyrics sheets with regular alphabets
Poster 2 sketches, and prototype 1

We thought it would be interesting to use those elements and make a word out of a music sheet. Therefore, we agreed to use one song out of all the 10 songs we had and base the entire second poster off of that. Instead of having musical alphabets, we replaced them with 26 alphabets, which we used to form words. We pulled 155 words out of the actual lyrics of the song we chose and put each word on a separate music sheet. We categorized each word based on the color moods. What emotion did we feel towards the word? Which of the colors did we choose before relating to the word and express it emotionally?

After choosing the colors to represent each word and then punching the holes, similar to what we did with the music sheets. The final step was to decide the layer behind those words, which we both agreed would be the entire song lyrics. For this layer, we wanted to make it look scripty and messy. So, we used a script font called “Mrs. Santhi,” and then we printed that background and dripped ink all over it to resemble the punched holes. Putting this poster together took us around 3 days, which we spent between testing, printing, cutting, and finally assembling the final poster.

Lyrics sheets
Test Print & Final background design


Assembling the final poster:

putting together all the elements for the final version

The final poster:

All and all, this project was a lot of fun, and we are hoping that we could use the knowledge we gained while working on this in future projects.

Thank you for reading!

MFA in Graphic Design student at Boston University