Synthesis and Interaction of Music and Fine Art

in Reproduction of Phenomena of Life and Nature


Skaidrite Erliha, as.Prof., Dr.Paed.

Department of Art, Daugavpils University, Daugavpils, Latvia






Nowadays the synthesis and interaction of different kinds of art are especially brightly expressed in connection with the tendencies of social relations, with the integration of cultural phenomena and the approximation of the practical life.

There exist several kinds of art: graphics, painting, sculpture, architecture, music, etc.

Within the synthesis of the kinds of art the following types are distinguished: interaction, transposition, collage, consentaneity and symbiosis.

Particular sciences and spheres of people's intellectual and practical activity study different aspects of the world, thus developing, enriching and improving an individual. Music and fine art guarantee cognition and understanding of the reality of life in its varied expressions, which are connected with people's aesthetic, creative and artistic activities.

These both kinds of art are closely related as they have a number of common elements (rhythm, language, intonation, etc,), components (material, methods and means of expression), which undergo synthesis and interaction..

In the result of this interaction music and fine art begin to fulfill their main function more extensively and deeper. This is the function of a person's socialization and intellectual development, it influences the personality, develops a definite attitude towards the environment and the phenomena that take place in people's life.

The paper presents the results obtained in the research of the synthesis and interaction of the two kinds of art during the process of listening to music, in which both students and pupils were involved.


All art culture is characterized by two mutually unified but distinctive tendencies: the tendency to unite and synthesize for different kinds of art and the tendency to stabilize and perfect its specifics.

As in any dialectical process, these both tendencies find their expression unevenly: sometimes one of the tendencies predominates, coming forward, whereas the other tendency builds up its strength for a new plunge. Nevertheless the interaction of various kinds of art and their inward development never comes to a stop. And we can assuredly affirm that both these phenomena benefit art culture and its vitality.

A separate kind of art, widening the range of its expressive means and polishing its genres, can provide a reachable for itself and relatively completed vision of the object of actual existence. Nevertheless literature, music and fine art as separate units can reveal only one aspect of the real existence, presupposes the use of one sense-organ, but mankind objectively aspire for a more universal and multifarious artistic reflection of the surrounding world and itself. Therefore there always exist social conditions that stimulate the formation of the synthesis of two or more arts.  

As experience and practice reveals, the necessity of the synthesis becomes especially actual during the epochs of social transformations, the periods of time in history when society particularly needs efficient means of art that might help to convey important social ideas. The search for the synthesis intensifies when the total amount of sounds, colours or the means of the poetic word is insufficient for society. This is because the object of arts is the cognition of nature, society and the real existence.

For that reason, the aim of the research is to characterize the synthesis of music and fine art, to determine its modes and the relevant criteria, common features and awake to its importance in the action of human life.

The methods of the research:

theoretical: the analysis of the scientific literature in philosophy, art, music, pedagogy and methodology;

empirical: observation and the analysis of the drawings.

The base of the research: the 3rd year students of Department of Music and Art; the speciality “Teacher of Music” (study year 2004) and the 2nd form and the 4th form pupils of Saskaņas primary school (school year 2004).


The Essence of the Synthesis and Interaction of Music and Fine Art


It has been proved in art science that within the synthesis of the kinds of art the following types are distinguished: interaction, transposition, collage, consentaneity and symbiosis. According to P. Zeile, the synthesis can take place in case our associations and particularly the ability to synthesize help to improve and activate the powers of perception [1].

The notion of synthesis (in Greek- sin means together; aesthesis means palpable) denotes intermediate associations that originate in sight, hearing, touch and inward feelings supplementing and doubling each other. The first sample of the synthesis that has been investigated is “colour hearing”; symbolists A.Belly, K. Balmont and the film critic and director E. Eisenstein were interested in the synthesis. A familiar feeling of the synthesis: low sounds are perceived as dark and ponderous (this was used in the composition “The Baby Elephant Lullaby” by Debizi), but high-pitched sounds- tenuous and bright. The synthesis is actively developed by modern audio-visual technical means of art.   

Concerning the three mentioned above kinds of synthesis (interaction, transposition, collage), they find expression in two spheres: art and daily environment. Interaction in artistic environment presupposes that one kind or genre of art inherits or borrows separate thematic or stylistic elements, or the whole contemplation or the whole plot from another kind or genre of art. The effect of interaction is extremely significant in art and throws light on investigations into art stylistics [1].

Productions and screenings of literary works, in which the laws of transposition (called the transmutation, the translation into another semantic language) come into effect, play a significant role in artistic synthesis. The transmission of famous works of painting and graphics to the surfaces of constructions and advertisements and so forth and the reproduction of them as another material and environment refers to this kind of synthesis [1].

Though transposition in music is referred to the change in tonality (higher or lower).  

Collage is a widespread contemporary kind of synthesis where several elements of art or exterior art, maintaining their autonomy, are consolidated within the means of quotations or illustrations. New conditionality, which also might end in insipid miscellany, is created. In Latvian art of painting, L.Auza, I.Anmanis and P. Dambis in music follow this track. [1]

Consentaneity as a kind of synthesis has a long history, as traditional ensembles of architecture and fine art have been consolidated in such a way. There exists autonomy of each kind of art to some extent, but, on the whole, the ensemble predominates. Here we can see the manifestation of the synthesis of music and art, because, in music, the ensemble is defined as a unitary, united and coherent canto (both consentaneous and many-voiced [1].  

Convergence and cohesion as a kind of synthesis describes or portrays the characters of traditional and modern performing arts, theatre, cinema, and video. Vocal music is also consentaneity, the symbiosis between two kinds of art [1].

As practice suggests, P. Zeile acknowledges, in the synthesis of various kinds of art serious constraints, as well as regularities exist [1].

Art philosophers and aesthetes provide us with a clear statement in this respect. For instance, having acquainted with the works by the art philosophers M.Kagan, M.Dessuarom, V. Vanslov and many others, we concluded that synthesis is also dependent on the division (classification) of these two arts in the system of arts. The philosopher M. Kagan anaalyses M.Dessuarom’s system of classification of arts. (see Figure 1) that is based on the bilaterally coordinated principle [2].  


Spatial arts (the arts of rest and locality)

Time arts (the arts of motion and sequence

Characterization of arts





Art that renders definite associations and real forms



Free art full of indefinite associations and unreal forms


Figure 1 Classification of the system of arts


Pankevich has also carried an investigation into this issue. He adds that music finds  expression in time, but fine art- in spacee). The author acknowledges that music does not lose the spatial qualities, although space is conventional in music. Space is created in the process of the perception of music that is affected by intense  excitement of specific associative connexions of memory. Spatial arts (painting, fine art, graphic and others) have light and shade, colourfulness, colour scheme, graphics, top and bottom, foreground and background. It is possible to create the composition and even try to arouse clear concepts of a person’s image or an architectural building. Thus J. Brams implemented the character created by Hungarian violinist J. Joahim in the final of his violin concert, but R. Shuman- the greatness of Cologne cathedral in the fourth part of the fourth symphony. [3] 

According to G. Pankevich and A. Sohor, a specific recording is used in music: “musical graphics” that reflects new means of the organization of musical material; scores find expression in sophisticated drawings, which need to be interpreted. Thus, according to many philosophers, there exists a great significance of the synthesis of fine arts and music.

The scientists have undertaken research on the ways of consolidation of fine art and music. They believe:

l        firstly, the mediator between these arts is a word, as it initially plays a particular integrative role in the synthesis;

l        secondly, the emotional sphere is involved in a specific link between music and painting . Thus common feelings, having produced an effect on one common sense-organ, evokes additional concepts and associations irrespective of a person’s consciousness.

Many composers have acknowledged that hearing is connected with the sense of colour: Rimsky-Korsakov, Skrjabin, Prokofjev. When Prokofjev set eyes on a birch grove, he exclaimed, ‘What a beautiful birch grove in Mi-bemol major!” G. Pankevich concludes that tuneful ear transforms into consciousness and processes, to which we can allocate the significance of value. In fine art, there also exist the means of performing music. A shining example is the creative work of M. Churlonys (Lithuania). He, being an artist (a painter and an artist) suggested that there are no frontiers among arts and that music has its own architecture, and that the architecture of one art can be used in other arts. He even introduced the notion “music architecture” and endeavoured to render musical sensations in his works of art “Sonata”, “Prelude”, “Jugular” and others [4]   

G. Pankevich claims that a peculiar contexture, pattern of colours or appropriately, specifically chosen colourful spots in a painting can evoke a certain impression. Thus the expression ”the sonmiferous painting” originated. 

Many artists of fine art: V. Kavaes (Latvia), K. Blīgzna (2003) (Latvia), E. Panotskis (1955) (Poland) an many others, the musicians: G. Pankevich,V. Vanslo (1988), A. Sohor (1962) (Russia) characterize the criteria of the kind of art. Thus V. Vanslo (1988) acknowledges that not only expressive means or peculiarities of the content are regarded as the criteria of the kind of art. He considers that the criterion is connected with a general characterization of a particular artistic activity [5].

Having analyzed various approaches to this problem, we conclude that each kind of art can be distinguished taking into consideration:

l        the use of artistic material, which depends on a sense-organ (eyesight, hearing, imagination, sensations and others); 

l        the object;

l        the method;

l        the content;

l        the means (both expressive and imitative);

l        the artistic language;

l        the form (thinking form in music);

l        the efficacy.

Though it does not necessarily presuppose that the particular kind of art dissociates from any by-effects. In any principle of art, it is possible to render a thorough image of reality and convey a person’s aesthetic attitude towards the world through the subordinate sphere [5].

Having analyzed the ideas of the mentioned above authors, it is possible to sum up that music and fine art have the following common features:

l        the system of expressive means. In music, for instance, these are: tempo, dynamics, timbre, tune, rhythm and others;

l        the prerequisites of a particular expression, that is, the modes of distinguishing features of the material: in music- music sounds, in fine art- colour, marble and others;

l        the elements of the artistic language: signs, symbols, lines, circles, points, colours, light, space, volume, rhythm, colour scheme, composition, movement, texture, unity, dominant, contrast, proportion.;

l        the rendering;

l         the imagery;

l        the artistic expression;

l        the specification of thoughts;

l        the expressiveness;

l        the plot;

l        the means: in music and fine art: associative  and pathetic expressive means, which are connected with the creation of a particular feeling;

l        the way of depiction- concept associations and all the like;

l        the artistic transformation of forms, ideas and feelings.


The Interpretation of the Results of the Synthesis and Interaction of Music and Fine Art


To research this question, we shall turn to creative work of Nikolay Churlonys (1875-1911), a well known Lithuanian composer, who is considered the founder of Lithuanian classical music. As a composer, N. Churlonys bequeathed major, distinctive, and remarkably artistic heritage. His works are characterized by sophisticated philosophical thought. The artist immensely poetically depicts the nature of his motherland. The works of art where he endeavoured to reach the synthesis of music and fine art seem particularly interesting. He entitled his works, for instance, “Fugue” or “Sonata”. In “Fugue” (see Figure 1) N. Churlonys imitates the techniques of the composition of musical genre, thus creating the reverse theme (in the painting- the woodland scene with the silhouettes of fir-trees) by means of imitations [7].



Figure 2.1. “Fugue” N. Churlonys


Sonatas are the cycles of paintings, in which the created mood corresponds to the parts of the sonata- Allegro, Andante, Skerco, and Finale. A characteristic example is a cycle of panting “ Marine Sonata”. In the first painting (see Figure 2.1.)- Allegro- a bright and sunny seascape is portrayed. On the top of the painting a joyous rhythm of waves, which recurs in the dune mountains, is seen.  The Baltic Sea is portrayed as being rhythmical- foams left by waves, glazy stones, scallop-shells, and pieces of amber.



Figure 2.2. “Marine Sonata”. Allegro. 1908.


In the second painting (see Figure 2.3.), - Andante- a light sea is portrayed where everything is as frozen in endless peace.



Figure 2.3. Marine Sonata. Andante. 1908.


In the third painting (see Figure 2.4.)- Finale- a heavy sea is depicted when large waves rise to a great height, up to the horizon and a natural disaster rampages. The feeling of the painting is associated with the dramaturgy of the sonata cycle in music.



Figure 2.4. Marine Sonata. Finale. 1908.


The paintings entitled “Sidereal Sonata”, “ Summer Sonata”, “Pyramids’ Sonata”, “Solar Sonata” and others seem eye-catching. Let us deal with “Sidereal Sonata”. “Sidereal Sonata” consists of four parts: Allegro, Andante, Scerko, and Finale. Thus there are four paintings. We shall choose the first painting- “Allegro” (see Figure 2.5.). A cyclic composition is revealed in this part- the sun that shines down on an invisible blue city, a castle that creates a dreamscape, fanciful and illusory. [6]



Figure 2.5. Sidereal Sonata. Allegro. 1907.


Though “Pyramids’ Sonata” (see Figure 2.6.) seems uncompleted, as there are only two compositions “Andante” and “Allegro”; there is no “Finale”. Apparently, this composition had not been completed.


Figure 2.6. Sidereal Sonata. Andante.


Next we are going to deal with the results of the investigation. The future music masters- the 3rd year students majoring in music- participated in the investigation. At the very beginning of the study year 2004 the students were required to answer some questions with the purpose of determining their power of reasoning, abilities, perceptions, associations, frames of mind, emotional attitude in connection with the synthesis and interaction of music and fine art.

The contemporary arrangement of Nemorina’s aria from the opera “Philtre” by Donicetti was reproduced from a tape. The song “Secret Tear” was performed Era. Having listened twice to it, the students were asked to portray their feelings, associations, and notions in a work of painting. Olga Kovaļevska (see Figure 2.7.) and Tatjana Larionova (see Figure 2.8.) drew imaginative and noteworthy illustrations-pictures.   



Figure 2.7. Seascape. Olga.


We think Olga succeeded in giving a portrayal of the state of the sea by dint of warm colours, and the shore of a light sea, curvaceous sandy lines, speckles, and scallop-shells in the foreground are particularly effective. Thus the student expressed her inner feelings, associations, artistic abilities, and the speculative power under the influence of the two arts. Tatyana in her work used water colours in light tones. In the foreground, a girl stands on the sea-shore and looks in the distance. The sea is light with small waves and transparent bubles. At the middle distance, there is the sheet music behind which the sun shines and a ship sails. Tatyana fully rendered the song about the love that dead is now, but silent , tender and lucid feelings have remained, and the loneliness is felt.




Figure 2.8. Seascape. Olga.


Next we shall analyze some fragments and episodes of the investigation which was pursued in Daugavpils Saskaņas primary school. At the lesson of music, the 2nd form pupils were required to listen to the composition “Autumn” by Tchaikovsky (see Fragment 1), but the 4th form pupils listened to the composition “Winter” (see Fragment 2) by Tchaikovsky. Having listened to the composition time after time, the learners endeavoured to express their feelings and fantasies in paintings and drawings. 


Fragment 1


Fragment 2

After analyzing the drawings, we found out that the 2nd form students reflected the content of the music and the characters, that is, the changes in nature by dint of their own brush. At the beginning of the composition from the first beat to the fourth beat even, pictorial, and narrative intonations dominate, and in the drawings, the birches have yellow leaves. In the fifth beat the movement of both rhythm and melodies become more active, alert. The triplets appear in the rhythm, and falling leaves of the birhes come into view in the children’s drawings as the wind becomes stronger.



Figure 2.9. Birches in autumn.


The 4th year students created beautiful paintings using their own brush. The seven learners brilliantly succeeded in accomplishing the task. We shall examine two works where bright and light colours were used to describe falling and swirling snow, a winter landscape as a beautiful dazzling whiteness. Thus we can conclude the students have a very rich imagination, fantasy, and experience, mature artistic thinking and perception, and picturesque revelation of the content and the advanced brush characterize their works.



Figure 2.10.



Figure 2.11.


Having analized the results of the research, we conclude most of the students (in the course of study) and most of the pupils (in the course of learning and teaching) gain knowledge and experience.

The results of the investigation suggest that the use of the elements of the synthesis of music and art in the course of listening to music develops:

perception (as a reflection of objects and phenomena as a whole) which is connected with one’s senses as the only source of cognition; music perception (thinking, memory, emotional excitement and so on). Common feelings create supplementary concepts and associations to comprehend the real world. Thus students and pupils gain knowledge and experience in the transformation of the form, content, genre concept, plot, expressive means of both kinds of art.




Within the synthesis of the kinds of art the following types are distinguished:

·                     interaction;

·                     transposition;

·                     collage;

·                     consentaneity;

·                     symbiosis.

Interaction in artistic environment presupposes that one kind or genre of art inherits or borrows separate thematic or stylistic elements, or the whole contemplation or the whole plot from another kind or genre of art.

Music finds expression in time (partly in space), but fine art- in spacek.

Different  kinds of music and fine art are distinguished according to the following criteria:

Music and fine art have the following common features:

            the composition;       


Synthesis reflects aesthetic culture tendencies; it leads to new creativity.


The use of the elements of music and fine art when listening to music has a beneficial effect on the development of perception (as the reflection of objects and phenomena as a whole), which is connected with the five senses as the only source of cognition, the perception of music (thinking, memory, and the senses) as a ground for the evocation of extra concepts and associations. Thus students and pupils gain knowledge and experience of the transformation of the genre, content, ideas, plot, the system of expressive means, and artistic language of both kinds of art.




[1] Esthetics. Editor P. Zeile (1989). The second edition. Riga: Zvaigzne.- p. 393

[2] Kagan, M. (1972) The Morphology of Arts. Leningrad: Искусство.- p.95.  

     Vanslov, V. V. (1972) What is Art? Moscow: Изобратительное искусство.- p.323.

[3] Pankevich, G. I. (1987) The Art of Music. Moscow: Издательство знание.- p.111.

     Sohor, A. (1962) Music as a Kind of Art. Riga: Latvijas valsts izdevniecība.- p.121.

[4] Pankevich, G. I. (1987) The Art of Music. Moscow: Издательство знание.- p.111.

      Sohor, A. (1962) Music as a Kind of Art. Riga: Latvijas valsts izdevniecība.- p.121.

[5] Kavac, V. (1999) The Bases of Art Language. Riga: Zvaigzne ABC.- p.16.

     Bligzna, K. (2003) Lines, Areas, Compositions. Riga: Lielvārds.- p.46.

     Panofsky, E. (1955) Meaning the Visual Art. NY.- p. 150.

     Pankevich, G. I. (1987) The Art of Music. Moscow: Издательство знание.- p.111.

     Vanslov, V. V. (1972) What is Art? Moscow: Изобратительное искусство.- p.323.

     Sohor, A. (1962) Music as a Kind of Art. Riga: Latvijas valsts izdevniecība.- p.121.

[6] Etkynd, M. (1970) The World as a Great Symphony. The book about the artist Churlonys,   E.s. Leningrad: Издательство искусство. -p. 136.

      Bokcanyna, E. (1978) History of Music of the Nations of the USSR. Moscow: -p. 412.

[7]  Tchaikovsky, P. (1989) Les Saisons /pour piano/. Moscow: Muzyka. -p. 74.