“The Sounds of New Orleans: a Tribute to Louis Armstrong”

National Philharmonic’s Color the Music Project, Spring 2019



Music and words go hand in hand. We hear music and we respond to it emotionally, factually, and/or critically, often using text. Everyone perceives music in their own way and there is always more than one way to respond to music no matter the genre. This is especially true in blues and jazz which have the added element of improvisational response by musicians. The same tune can be performed differently by different musicians, yet all are “correct” responses. To learn more about the influence of the blues upon American music and the history of jazz check these two sites:


National Philharmonic’s concert on March 30, 2019 is “Sounds of New Orleans: a Tribute to Louis Armstrong”. The concert features Byron Stripling, a gifted trumpeter, singer, and charismatic and witty stage performer who has performed with symphonies and at jazz festivals around the world. The concert will be music of Louis Armstrong (1901-1971), a trumpeter, vocalist, and composer from New Orleans who was one of the most influential figures in the development of jazz.


The focus of our Spring, 2019 Color the Music Project is based on examples of music that will be featured on this concert.


Because the sounds of blues and jazz vary from performance to performance and personal experience it is somewhat difficult to create an artwork response to the music one hears. For this reason, we are focusing on using the written word as the art form.   After listening to all the recordings included below (they date from the 1940s to 2010!) you will create a word art of your choice based on what you have heard. This music (and several additional pieces!) will be heard at the March 30th concert.

“Word Art” is a category of post-modernist art. According to the Encyclopedia of Art, it is “art that includes words or phrases as its primary artistic component” (Neil Collins, Visual Arts Cork). You may choose to use two types of word art for this project:

1. Stylizing the letters of the word BLUES or JAZZ  (choose 1).  Examples below:


As in the examples above, have each letter of your chosen word be representative of something you heard in the music selections for the project.

2. Shape word: Draw an instrument that you hear in the recordings and spell the name of that instrument within it. Here’s an example:

The following video can show you steps for this:


(Remember that you are using a musical instrument heard in one of the recordings!)


1. Listen to the following examples of blues and jazz.

(Nola Brass Band in Madrid. The band is playing as they walking down the street, probably how it was often heard originally in New Orleans!

2. Let the music inspire your art!! Listen for:

  • Is the sound loud and bold or soft and gentle?
  • Happy?
  • Reflective?
  • Sad?
  • Quick or slow?
  • Smooth?
  • Staccato (detached)?
  • What instruments do you hear?
  • What might be the mood of the music and how can you reflect that?
  • When you close your eyes and listen, do you think of particular colors?

 How can your art reflect your answers to these questions?
3. Choose which of the styles of word art you want to use and start creating!!

*** Don’t forget all you know about the Elements of Art (line, shape, color, value, form, texture, space) and the Principles of Design (balance, contrast, emphasis, movement, pattern, rhythm, unity) as you create your art work!! Use texture! Use Value and Color!! Use Pattern and contrast!!  BE CREATIVE!!!  You may also put color in your backgrounds outside of your word art but make sure it enhances and not detracts your emphasized word.


  • You may use any 2-D medium – crayon, colored pencils, water colors, oils, pastels, etc. Pencil line drawings are not encouraged for this project.
  • You may also use computer software to create your art. Please print on white paper, 81/2”x11”.
  • Art should be on white paper and may be backed with black paper for display. The recommended paper size is 9”x12” (with an additional 1” black border if you are backing it). Because of space available for mounting our art shows, art greater than the recommended size will be accepted only after consultation.
  • Accepted artwork will be displayed in the Strathmore concert lobby the weekend of March 30, 2019 during the National Philharmonic concert.
  • Artwork will be accepted through 4pm on Monday, March 25, 2019 in the National Philharmonic Office located on the second floor of Strathmore.


Isabel Carpio at isabel@nationalphilharmonic.org
Sara Josey at altosara@gmail.com

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