Ultralight Beam

Recently, I've been listening to The Life of Pablo and have been completely blown away. The purpose of this project was to choose a song and make a project out of it, with consideration to typography, and visualizing the an invisible power like music. 

My concept to this book came to be by imagining that I was to be able to hand Kanye West this project personally to him, which then made me ask myself what would be my approach in making a design for Ultralight Beam in a way that is a direct reference to the book yet is up to the Kanye's high standards in communication. 

The song strongly references religious themes, and is a conversation about faith, redemption, and life as a believer. Kanye also often refers to himself as a god or Christ-like figure in music and in the fashion industry, so I thought that the best idea would be to create a form of Bible or book of scripture to contain the words and musical experience of this song. Ideally, if this would be a long-term project, each song from The Life of Pablo would get it's own bound book, much like how Biblical writing is categorized in different books. 

I began to work on this project the week before the SNL performance, so I did not have much visual reference until later in the process. One of the main things I wanted to figure out first was the timing of the song, which coincidentally is in 12/8, meaning that there are four beats with two shorter beats in between them (1-and-a-2-and-a-3-and-a-4-and-a-1...), which organized the whole song into about 70 bars (each set of four beats). I decided that I could organize each spread into one set of bars, giving each page a six column grid, thus, twelve columns per spread like each bar's beats (which also equal out to twelve). 

Once the grid system was established, I was able to go through the song and place each lyric where it needed to be within the grid/bar structure, and did this for the whole song.

One of the things that I found to be important to portray is the amount of layers within the song itself.  It's a very serious song, has a very complex arrangement, yet it sounds simple when you just listen to it. The instrumental part of it is a series of fades, soft distortions, and the occasional guitar and wind instrument. It's a constant set of fades (though after listening about 200 times I noticed that it is not consistently the same throughout), so I wanted to portray that in a way that wouldn't take away from the readability of the lyrics. I created a gradient system which the colors coincidentally match the SNL performance and the reflection of a holographic paper. 

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