Seeing Music

This is the final project of Communication Design Fundamentals, we were asked to create a book. 

First, I came up with the idea to make a book that visualizes music. I started with the initial idea of taking photos of people’s reactions when listening to songs. I discussed the idea with Julia and Brandon, they gave me very helpful suggestions like including interviews, asking questions like what color do you see in this song, as well as asking them to draw sketches while listening to the song.

I did my first digital draft in the first week. This one is rather colorless and dark. I combined the photo and the sketches together on the same page and put a quote from the interview as the main element. Julia suggested that I should definitely use more color since songs are emotional and colorful. She also noticed that I should do more interview on different aspects, such as asking them what smell the song is like etc.

In the following week I began to take photos and started to design the book cover. I noticed interestingly that people’s reaction to the camera is also really different.

In this version, I implemented colors. Also I made a big change to the hierarchy of the information. During the first critic session, many colleagues suggested that the color is still too dull. The orange is dark and the grey on the third page does not express the feeling properly. Also, for the second page, the overlap of drawing and photo makes it feel messy. In addition, the front cover is not that attracting and does not relate to my theme. One of the suggestions came to my sight. A colleague suggested that since I’m doing a book about songs, I could make the whole book album-like. I even can include physical CDs inside the book. Brandon also recommended me doing that, so I decided to make big changes.

In the third version, I started to implement the album idea and try to include more vibrant colors. I made the pages square and scattered all the information. From the first version my of spread to the last, you can see a clear evolution toward simplicity. In the process I recognized that for a book in such a small size it would be nicer to keep things simple. I decided to go on with that direction.

It is hard to keep drafts in Indesign, since there’s no canvas. After a lot of changes, this is the final version of my book:

For the front cover, I used four zoomed photos of four people. And focused on their eyes. Instead of showing their face directly, I covered their eyes with circles to echo with the theme. In the physical book, I also glued transparent acrylics onto the circles to make them look like eyes. The four colors represent different colors the interviewees chose.

For the catalogue, I implemented a big contrast between the left side and the right side. Again, the colors are consistent through all the pages. The right part of the catalogue corresponds to the cover, basically it is the inverse of the front cover. I chose the typeface Avenir cause I feel like it is a modern type but still have some experimental details in it.

Now for the main content of my book. I used a quartered square which is consistent with the front cover and previous page. To make things simple, I made the titles of the songs the biggest, the less important song-related information small in the middle, and the quotes on the bottom with a different color. They are aligned to the one-third of the whole page. I also intentionally made all the photos black and white cause I don’t wanna cause a chaos with the color photos and make things too intimidating.

The back cover is relatively simple. It’s an introductory paragraph about the book with four circles corresponding to the front cover.

In general the design of this book leans toward simplicity. I used black and white photos and pure colors to directly express the feeling of each person. One thing that I would like to improve is that in the end I failed to attached the CDs to my book due to multiple technical difficulties. I wish to try to print this book on cardboard paper next time and try to attach the CDs onto the pages.

Updated 10/19/2020