The Common Elements in Music and Design


Working many hours each day in front of a PC isn’t an easy task; in fact, it may be quite annoying but things could be improved by trying out some “helpful tricks” as: a cup of tea, a nice and functional office, the promise that at the end of the project you can go on a short walk or just listen to your favorite online radio. All these are working for me and, by reading many interviews with the best designers, I noticed that these also work for them.

Personally, I can’t work without music, it is a real catalyst for me and this makes me ask myself why it helps so much and if it has some connections with the design. The answer is pretty surprising; the design and the music have many common elements; when you aren’t sure about your design, a nice song could offer some solutions. Here, I have emphasized a few common things and I will be grateful if someone finds other things as well, putting them in a comment.

1. A songs and a design must be original

The first and the most important condition in order to be successful is to be original-and it could be generalized to everything man has ever crafted. Nobody likes a song which is copied (covers are something else, being perfectly legal and fair because the creator specifies the source of inspiration) or a design that is “too influenced” by others.

The appreciation of the public is severely dropping in the case that a melody or a website is proved to be a bad copy; more than that, this is another form of stealing.

On the other hand, in design, there is the process of redesigning and, in music, there is the cover where the originality should be preserved and the potential changes consist of improving the parts which need such modifications. It is highly recommended not to criticize a redesign in a bad manner if only small elements have been changed. A cover is a song which is obviously influenced by another song (usually an old hit), suffering rhythm or style modifications. Any cover specifies the source and it means that the new song is only a personal modification of it.

To be clearer, all things should have original elements, while respecting ethic principles. A redesign and a cover are only modifications of the old entities so here the originality can be neglected.

The Common Elements in Music and Design

2. A lengthy, complicated song doesn’t mean that it says more

A mixture of the all existent styles, voices and rhythms doesn’t mean that the respective melody will be liked by all the fans. A design which includes minimalism trends, sci-fi navigational menu, and a grunge background with some retro features is completely ungraceful. Definitely, in music and design, if someone mixes all the preferences it will be difficult to obtain a final product, which would satisfy everyone’s wishes. In the huge majority of the cases no one considers this kind of amalgam as being worthy.

A complicated structure of a song is the same with a layout full of various types of navigational menus, with rich text content. These pieces of work are impressive only due to the volume of work but can’t receive the appreciation of the crowd because many users don’t have the time or the patience to check out complex structures.

3. A great song and a good design should transmit something

The purpose of a design or a melody is to transmit something to the people who use/listen to a message, which should call to action or make them think about something; more clearly, a design or a song without personality is a loss of time.

There are an infinite number of songs and layouts but few pass the test of time, only these which have something special are successful. A designer and a singer are artists and it is clear that they should have personality; everything which is not powerful, is easy to forget. The problem is how to obtain this “personality” and my answer is pretty sad: only talent and experience could offer good solutions.

4. A cool song and a good design are universal

It is unusual for a song or a design to be liked in Europe and ignored in Asia; what is high quality is high quality for everyone. The songs of Michael Jackson and the minimalistic design of Google are enjoyed all around the world. Nobody can state that putting something specific to your zone in a song or a design is wrong, it depends on the type of the project, but a universal structure is always welcomed.

5. Words are important everywhere

In music and design, an important role is played by the text: a layout full with dummy text and a song without any verses can’t say very much, while a website with a good written content is offering the proper information and a song with amazing verses certainly won’t pass unremarked. In fact, a song and a layout are created to present a text which should offer information or to create an inner state to the user and not vice versa.

6. The public is the most important

All the specialists in the world can affirm that a song or a design is the most beautiful or it is perfect; however, if the majority of the people doesn’t agree to this, then all is in vain. The melodies and any piece of design are created to be enjoyed by the human beings and not only to respect some standards. The most important conclusion: when creating an artistic work, a song or a design, keep in mind that the decisive opinion is owned by the people, as you are creating for them.

In a nutshell, music and design are appropriate domains with many common elements which should be original and most of all, transmit something. It will be great to know what you believe about music and design, so please use the comment form!


  1. Andrew Mar 9, 1:52 am

    Some interesting ideas, and there are some parallels to designing and music. Awful use of stock art though, illustrations or even just text would be better. Why is that lady on the floor with her apple and coffee when there’s a couch right behind her?

  2. george Mar 9, 10:16 pm

    Nice idea of putting together these domains and truly, when I am listening to some music I am more productive!

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