09.15.23
The Editors | Twenty Years of Design Observer

Music

Troxler posters
Niklaus Troxler jazz posters. From "All That Jazz: Posters by Niklaus Troxler"

Is there much of a future, Tom Vanderbilt once asked, for the graphic representation of popular music itself? Future cultural historians may well ask. Perhaps they’ll turn their attention to the posters of Niklaus Troxler, the sonic branding of Disquiet Junto; to music videos (and viral videos) and what design juries might learn from the Dixie Chicks. Since 2003, our far-flung correspondents have riffed on Nico Muhly and Philip Glass, Wilson Pickett, and Motown. We’ve interviewed Laurie Anderson and Ricky Lee Jones, Janelle Monáe and Lucia Lucas. We’ve run stories on flexible disks and rock’n’roll fonts, the thrill of the remix, and the allure of pop; how ambient sound sweetly conjures the intonations of Aaron Copland, and how one artist’s paradox-ridden approach (and positive vibrations) hoped to build a more promising world. We’ve unpacked album covers and more album covers and even (or maybe especially) album cover sleeves (and more album cover sleeves), examined the artifacts we carry and the noises we crave. In the end, perhaps music owes a debt to design—and design a debt to music—because these two disciplines share a common wisdom. A people without wisdom will surely perish, wrote Herman Poole “Sonny” Blount, the American jazz composer better known as Sun Ra, in the liner notes to Jazz In Silhouette, way back in 1959. Maybe holding onto liner notes isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Posted in: Music




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