Hearing Type and Seeing Sound: The Adaptation of Gamelan Sunda's Musical Characteristics into Variable Fonts and Kinetic Typography (Experimental Project)

Session 5

Saturday, 2 October 2021

9:00 AM CST – 9:30 AM CST



  • English

There is no doubt that letters give meaning not only from the words they are formed but also by their visual appearance. With that in mind, I wanted to explore how far letters can adopt an identity, especially something that intangible like music. With my thesis project, I made series of variable fonts and kinetic typography that inspired by the musical characteristic of Gamelan Sunda (a traditional music ensemble from Indonesia). It leads to the idea of "hearing type and seeing sound" as the core of experimentation.

In terms of structure, Gamelan Sunda and typography have a similar principle. Both of them are a form of language. So, I used semiotics to translate the musical characteristics of Gamelan Sunda into the distinctive feature of a letter. Those characteristics were then adapted as the axes for the variable font design. It has resulted in 3 variable fonts that represent 3 instrument groups of Gamelan Sunda.

Moreover, as a time-based media, kinetic typography and Gamelan Sunda have dynamic elements, the presence of texture and hierarchy, and harmony to convey information. In the end, I have a map of the type’s movement (kinetics) based on the rhythm of Gamelan Sunda’s instrument.

The goal of this project is to explore the connection between typography and music visualization. And also to finds a different approach for designing a typeface.

  • Annisa Luthfiasari


    Annisa Luthfiasari is a graphic designer based in Bandung, Indonesia. She has a big passion for typography, especially in the study of the visual appearance of letters to provoke meaning and identity. Her previous work is mostly about exploring type design from the cultural point of view. She just graduated with a Master's Degree from Bandung Institute of Technology. Her thesis project is experimenting with the variable font as a medium to adapt the characteristic of a traditional music ensemble (Gamelan Sunda). Now she is on her way to kickstart her type design career with her studio named "This_Play Type".

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