Visual Music Flavors


Session Title:

  • Performance and Electronic Media

Presentation Title:

  • Visual Music Flavors



  • Visual music is just one facet of many in the current visualization revolution in education, communications, and the arts.Visualization tools such as VCRs, video camcorders, CD-ROMs, AV microcomputers, MMX technology, test equipment, and relatively inexpensive yet powerful software for doing high quality multimedia are commonplace in the late 90s in the home, business place, and classroom. And DVD and Java, a software multimedia synthesizer, are in the early stages of exploding onto the scene. Add to that technology mix the genre called “creativity” software (algorithms and generative systems that make it relatively easy for the any user to produce the illusion of a work of art) plus a genuinely joyful creative attitude that’s picking up steam in society and what you have are conditions ripe for a visual music harvest. An abbreviated set of Visual Music Flavors:


    1. Literal visualizations of music are generated directly from channelized musical wavetrains;
    2. Literal visualizations are mapped to some of the symbols used in traditional music scores;
    3. Scrolling scores in software MIDI sequencers bring the look of the piano roll to the digital age;
    4. Software for the creation, animation, and sequencing of graphics spinning out in time shaped by musical gestures is modeled on the principles of MIDI sequencers;
    5. Interpretive visualizations emerge from dance and theater traditions which undoubtedly extend back to the dawn of human rituals;
    6. Object oriented programming environments are endowed with flowcharting procedures that represent instruments or orchestras that can be performed or play themselves;
    7. Appropriately dramatic, humorous, or lyrical music closely synchronized with natural or invented moving imagery is now a mainstay of the popular media scene;
    8. Musical materials and/or gestures are mapped to imagery to create visual instruments that are meant to be played by a variety of input devices;
    9. Some performing musicians are so at one with their music that they move their bodies in ways that articulate every nuance of the music they’re creating as well articulating the thought processes that lead to the music they’re creating;
    10. Audio software manufacturers rely heavily on analytical routines to visualize audio recording, editing, processing, and mixing.Their software programs are so highly evolved that they make excellent resources for multimodal learning and teaching of music fundamentals based on the physical nature of sound, human perception of sound, how music instruments work, auditorium acoustics, and music recording and playback systems;
    11. Any good book, article, film, video, or CD-ROM on the science of sound should be packed with charts and diagrams illustrating the basic principles that tie music with the fields of physics, psychology, physiology, mathematics, speech, engineering, audiology, architecture, etc.;
    12.  Sonification of dynamic visual processes intersects with music visualization enough to be considered a candidate for another visual music flavor. Sonifying or translating into music natural dynamical systems such as weather, ocean currents, planetary or celestial movement, solar storms, and the like has gained currency and momentum since its beginnings in the early 1970s.