A Sound Palette

A Sound Palette was developed during the second year of my MFA program at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, Bard College, to broaden my creative process by incorporating the terminology and concepts of various arts disciplines. I was inspired by Anthony Braxton’s Musical Paradigm’s Schema and Pierre Schaeffer’s L’objet sonore.

0 = Silence: the absence of sound; stillness


  1. Timbre: the quality given to a sound by its overtones
  2. Pitch: the distinctive quality of sound, dependent primarily on the frequency of the sound waves produced by its source
  3. Duration: continuance or persistence in time
  4. Rhythm: movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence of different quantities or conditions
  5. Density: complexity of structure or content
  6. Dynamic: of or relating to energy, objects in motion, or variation of intensity
  7. Velocity: speed and direction of an object
  8. Location: a point or extent in space
  9. Gesture: motion/act/remark as an expression of though, feelings, emphasis, intention, or attitude


  1. Anticipation: predictions, expectations, or beliefs about the future
  2. Fear: an unpleasant feeling of perceived risk or danger, real or not
  3. Acceptance: the experience of a situation without an intention to change it
  4. Anger: a strong feeling of displeasure or hostility
  5. Surprise: to cause to feel wonder, astonishment or amazement, as at something unanticipated
  6. Disgust: profound aversion or repugnance excited by something offensive
  7. Joy: intense and especially ecstatic or exultant happiness
  8. Sorrow: an emotion of great sadness associated with loss or bereavement
  9. Love: a strong positive emotion of regard and affection


  1. Notion: a reflection in the mind of real objects and phenomena in their essential features and relations
  2. Form: the essence of something; the mode in which a thing exists, acts, or manifests itself
  3. Abstraction: a general concept formed by extracting common features from specific examples
  4. Semantic: of or relating to meaning, and the formal structure/patterns in which something is expressed
  5. Aesthetic: a philosophical theory as to what is beautiful
  6. Icon: an important and enduring symbol
  7. Context: the circumstances and conditions which “surround” an event
  8. Engagement: the act of sharing in the activities of a group
  9. Promise: a transaction between two or more people whereby the first person(s) undertakes in the future to render some service or gift to the second person(s) or devotes something valuable here and now to his/her/their use


  1. Statement: an overall impression or mood intended to be communicated
  2. Reference: act of referring – significance in a specified context; meaning or denotation
  3. Transduction: the action or process of converting something, especially energy or a message, into another form
  4. Repetition: the occurrence of an event which has occurred before
  5. Contrast: to set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences
  6. Integration: the combining and coordinating of separate parts or elements into a unified whole
  7. Rupture: the process or instance of breaking open or bursting
  8. Simplification: to reduce in complexity or extent
  9. Juxtaposition: placing two things close together or side by side in order to compare/contrast the two, or to create meaning within the observer’s mind


  1. Impulse: a sudden spontaneous inclination or incitement to some (usually) unpremeditated action; an impelling force
  2. Continuation: innate tendency to perceive a line as continuing its established direction
  3. Impermanence: everything is constantly in flux
  4. Expansion: the act of increasing (something) in size, volume, quantity, or scope
  5. Contraction: the act of decreasing (something) in size, volume, quantity, or scope
  6. Convergence: the process of coming together, or the state of having come together toward a common point
  7. Divergence: a moving or spreading apart in different directions from a common point
  8. Inertia: resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change
  9. Entropy: a measure of disorder or randomness in a closed system; uncertainty


  1. Perception: recognition and interpretation of sensory stimuli based chiefly on memory
  2. Subjectivity: an individual’s having not just a passive relationship to the world and the sense impressions it causes, but also agency and active engagement with that material
  3. Memory: the mental faculty of retaining and recalling past experience
  4. Intuition: the act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational process; immediate cognition
  5. Dream: subjective experiences of images, sounds, ideas, emotions, and sensations during sleep; a state of abstraction
  6. Synesthesia: the neurological mixing of senses
  7. Illusion: perception of something objectively existing in such a way as to cause misinterpretation of its actual nature
  8. Ubiquity: existence or apparent existence everywhere at the same time; omnipresence
  9. Agency: capacity of humans to make and impose choices as a collective

A Sound Palette is always displayed in my studio as an aid to my every day creative process.


But, in a pinch, I will use these cards in the style of a divinity or tarot deck to incorporate elements of chance into my process.