A not insubstantial number of New Zealand compositions draw inspiration from other works of art, either in the form of a response to the viewing of a work (such as a painting or sculpture), for example Anthony Ritchie’s Hanging Bulb or Christopher Blake’s Anthem on the Kaipara, or in the writing of incidental music to accompany a work (such as a play, dance or art exhibition), and, often, the subsequent reshaping of that music into a stand alone composition. To the latter belong many suites extracted from theatrical, dance and film productions in New Zealand such as David Farquhar’s Ring Round the Moon, Edwin Carr’s End of the Golden Weather based on Bruce Mason’s play and Philip Norman’s suite from his opera based on Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol.
Some compositions are works of visual art in their own right, designed as much for display as for performance such as Lyell Cresswell’s Eye Music and Nose Music of the late 1970s. Similarly, other compositions around this time were designed as much for their theatrical or sculptural impact as for their musical content. Such works were variously called music theatre or sonic art.