The Four Seasons, a concerto by Antonio Vivaldi, is one of the few pieces of classical music almost anyone can recognize. But unless you can read music, you'll never see The Four Seasons. Designer Laia Clos has created a set of graphic interpretations of the concertos that don't exactly demystify them to non-musicians, but at least they make Vivaldi's timeless structural intricacies visible at a glance.
The project, called "Lesquatrestacions" (that's "The Four Seasons" in French Catalan), began "by accident" last year when Clos wanted to make a gift for her studio clients based on "the idea of linking music, graphics and data visualization." She began with a set of stamps, but fell down the rabbit hole and ending up creating SisTeMu, "a graphic notation system which looks at interpreting musical texture," she tells Co.Design. "It somewhat simplifies the complexity and mathematical structure, making it accessible to the viewer through a visual narrative."
Clos had to do all the data visualization and translation by hand, but she's developing software to do the heavy lifting on future projects. SisTeMu maps musical notes to CMYK color swatches, and tempo to the size and orientation of circles, lines, and other bold graphic elements. It's no easier to understand than standard musical notation, but it appeals to the senses and emotions in a direct way, much like the concertos that inspired it.