Free and open to the public. Wednesday, September 11, 1996 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA at 7:30 PM. Visual Music Forum, an Electronic Arts Productions event in collaboration with YLEM, an international organization of artists, scientists, authors, curators, educators, and art enthusiasts who explore the intersection of the arts and sciences. The Visual Music Forum will feature the work of four leading visual music practitioners and researchers :
Sites of Music Visualizers
The ANIMUSIC DVD. A technical tour de force. A highly imaginative, inventive,
and playful approach to creating cartoon-like music instruments
perfectly synchronized to a digitally created soundtrack. All
the material is based on virtual instruments that correspond to
the synthesized music track. This is the sort of animation that'll
appeal to folks to don't normally take to cartoon-like animation.
Arkaos, "A downloadable MIDI authoring/editing tool that empowers VISUAL ARTISTS and PROFESSIONAL VJs to create, record and play their own graphical/effect videos using video sequences and images." (This product began its life in an earlier form - X<>POSE, software by Belgian artist Jessie Deep: a MIDI visual sampler and real-time effects processor for the Macintosh that maps stills, QuickTime, and FX to a MIDI keyboard for live performance or video output. The X<>POSE link doesn't work any longer because the company morphed into Arkaos. Four years is a long time in the emerging technology world.)
This is not a mistake! I'm listing it again because the deeper I get into their work the stronger my feeling that this is an enterprise that deserves emphasis. The home of U? software products representing the creative output of Eric Wenger and company. What follows is an excerpt from a post I made recently drawing attention to what I consider to be the first electronic arts synthesizer:
"Another thought to consider seriously is that MetaSynth can be considered one of a collection of modules in what amounts to the U? electronic arts synthesizer (MetaSynth, MetaTrack, Xx, ArtMatic, and Videodelic). A number of times I've observed Eric move from application to application (module to module) in the process of demonstrating his approach to the creative process. Seen from the MetaView, that collection of modules is beginning to look like my dream synthesizer (for decades I've been creating visual music systems configured with various module sets from my hardware and software collections). I've been actively involved in the electronic arts world since 1967 and I've worked with and collected an enormous number of hardware and software instruments. My U? electronic arts synthesizer (fully configured now) is easily one of the best tools I've ever had the pleasure of exploring. For the most part my other studios have been sitting there waiting for me to finish my U? explorations. At the rate that U? turns out software, those studios may be sitting silent for awhile."
The home of U? software products representing the creative output of Eric Wenger and company. The site includes information and access to ArtMatic, a visionary graphics synthesizer based on mathematical algorithms very easy to access and massage for your own creative purposes in animating textures and terrains integrated with sound. The site also includes information and access to Metasynth, "the first synthesis and sound design software that gives you all the power of advanced computer graphics to explore infinite sonic possibilities. It combines sampling, wavetable, additive, subtractive, granular and frequency modulation techniques with the most intuitive means for visualizing audio information ever created." Relatively inexpensive software that´s definitely worth exploring.
"My name is Philip Benn and I have just started a company in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY, that proclaims to create Visual Music for DVD. I am fascinated by the possibilities of technology fusing together the visual arts and music. I am interested in the commercial aspects of the term, Visual Music. I am interested in making the tools available to a mass market. Finally, I am interested in Techno music (ambient, trance, dub, drum n bass...) and Techno Visuals."
An Avant-Garde/Experimental Film Webring site owned by Joost Rekveld. "I was caught by the abstract animated films of the thirties and sixties and by the ideas about light art from around the turn of the century. A concept which pervades both of these kinds of moving art is the idea of a form of composed light which can be compared to the way sound is structured in a musical piece. In the first instance I started to study musical composition in order to develop my soundtracks more. Increasingly I started to apply the compositional approaches I learned to the visual structure of my films."
This is a special set of links to people who presented their work at a day long visual music gathering at Dennis Keefe's video facility in Alameda, California on July 11, 1999. This was an exceptional event signaling a sea change in the visual music movement; the visual music movement is on the edge of being integrated into mainstream multimedia arts.
The first set is already included in the links of this section of the site:
The second set represents new links:
Onadime Realtime Interactive Software
Andrew Schloss played some representative examples of this fascinating software. Check out the Onadime website for some visionary educational thinking.
Colour Music is an Australian site that provides an excellent source of history and theory of the relationships of musical pitch to color and form in the art of painting. The research and writing by Niels Hutchison are outstanding.
iota is an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the art of light and movement by constructing a database of information about artists (biographies) and their works (films, videos, performances, instruments, etc.) as well as bibliographic references (books, articles, exhibition catalogs, etc.). It's emphasis on dynamic media such as film and video animation represents another flavor of visual music. For more information see the article Visual Music and the iota List written after 18 months of researching the iota list.
Ed Tannenbaum's website focuses on his video work particularly his Recollections systems used in his interactive video installations. People play in his installations by moving in front of a large video projection screen while being recorded by a video camera. The video output is processed by computer to create trails of the player's silhouettes or outlines that are color-cycled and treated with special effects. Although there's virtually no effort to integrate music, Tannenbaum's work definitely fits the dynamic media visual music flavor.
AuVisuals's Performer is a MIDI file player that generates a correlated animated color display. In the world of integrated art software mapping MIDI to animated imagery is rapidly growing in popularity. How it's done provides considerable insight into how musically sophisticated the software designers are.
I saw and heard the MetaSynth software demonstrated on the floor of the 105th Convention of the Audio Engineering Society in San Francisco late September 1998; the demo was stunning. This software opens a new chapter in the history of visual music. A statement from their site: "MetaSynth is the first synthesis and sound design software that gives you all the power of advanced computer graphics to explore infinite sonic possibilities. It combines sampling, wavetable, additive, subtractive, granular and frequency modulation techniques with the most intuitive means for visualizing audio information ever created." Strong statement; strong software.
A site with an exposition of light scuptor Paul Friedlander's personal view of visual music. Describing the thumbnail he says: "I am an experimentalist, seeking new forms. In this illustration, you see a spinning string vibrating in harmony, this description sounds like a musical instrument, but it is a light sculpture. The vibrating form is a superposition of the second and fourth harmonic: a 'visual chord'."
A site with a decidedly mystical bent by Dr. Paradise (Todd Stock). "PARADISE is about raising consciousness on Earth through a synthesis of natural and technological tools specifically aimed an awakening, purifying and accelerating evolution of consciousness into The Light. Specifically we are using the medium of multi-layer digital video synaesthetically linked to certain types of psychoactive music to induce cybershamanic states of experience."
Visual Music: The Linux Port of Cthugha: "a computer program which would transform recorded music into moving colored patterns..."The input to the program can be any audio source, such as a microphone, a CDROM drive (though you must have the drive connected to your soundcard), or even a sound file. Cthugha takes the digital audio information and, after passing the data stream through any combination of filters, displays it to the screen in real time. The keyboard is used to change the various parameters either specifically or randomly. The simplest displays resemble the screen of an oscilloscope being fed audio data (Cthugha has been called "an oscilloscope on acid") but as more optional filters are added the display becomes baroquely intricate."
The site of Sergio Maltagliati, an Italian composer. He says: "I have been carrying out an experimental programme of work in composition where the score is always a picture. At present the scores are only in the digital data; that allows an interactive participation on the part of the listener."
The site of Laurie Spiegel, composer and creator of Music Mouse - An Intelligent Instrument. If you use the Macintosh or Amiga you´ll want to explore the visual interface for making music with Music Mouse, a piece that´s been evolving since 1986. The visual interface is a simple yet powerful dynamic visual map of the Music Mouse´s ongoing pitch world as it´s articulated by a mouse-driven cursor in the two dimension matrix created by a square of piano keyboards six-plus octaves on each side. In terms of pitches what you hear is what you see and vice versa. It's easy to get lost for a long time playing with this instrument and the trial version is a free download. A classic.
Here's the site of an art explorer having a good time with his personal flavor of visual music - a dancing robot. What follows is part of an email message he sent to me: "My name is Ashraf Nehru (otherwise known as Ash). I run a "virtual live performance company" called Autopilot, producing real-time 3D graphics that are projected onto large screens at clubs (i.e. nightclubs) in the UK (and sometimes in the US). The software, which I write myself, uses the power of the new generation of PC 3D accelerator cards (the 3Dfx Voodoo and Voodoo2) to deliver smooth, high-quality graphics at an affordable cost. The show consists of an animated dancing robot that dances in time to the music, under control of a human performer while flying through a Star-Wars-style "hyperspace tunnel", shooting laser beams, lighting itself on fire, spinning at thousands of rpm, changing faces, and generally doing crazy things to reflect the energy and dynamic of the music. The human performer (called the "pilot") selects different combinations of movement patterns for hips, hands, feet, lights, auxiliary objects and changes the speed of movement through the tunnel; combinations can be assigned to function keys and invoked instantly. The idea is that the human interprets the music by controlling the character's dancing, but also responds to the energy of the people on the dancefloor (we also put the computer on the dancefloor to give the dancers a go). As the energy and tension of the music rises, the energy of the dancing increases and becomes more complex, but the lights stay off and the speed through the tunnel stays low; as soon as the music "breaks", the lights come on, the dancing becomes more fluid and the hyperspace tunnel explodes into action. The effect is to amplify the effect of the music on the crowd and noticeably charge up the atmosphere."
Bomb is a visual music instrument by Scott Draves of Carnegie Mellon University. It runs on a PC and produces animated organic graphics on its own or in response to the keyboard and/or audio input. Draves has integrated "chunks of code and various rules" from a variety of people and sources. He's created a fascinating mix of modes and effects including non-representational textures with cellular automata, harmonic geometry, fractals. and a library of scanned images and characters. I've spent many pleasurable hours studying and playing with this fine piece. It's available for download; try it, you'll love it.
A window to Free Play Productions' Visual Music Tone Painter, a program that converts MIDI signals into visual display in real time. Used by performance artist Stephen Nachmanovitch as an instrument for releasing and inspiring the creative spirit.
Avant-garde pianist Jeffery Burns gives performances on The Piano of Light, a MIDI-equipped piano that drives a video beamer and 60 colored lights in conjunction with his musical performances. One of the rare sites providing information on visual music history, theory, and philosophy.
Ralph Abraham, a pioneer in visualizing mathematics with a special interest in dynamical systems, also explores the "use of massively parallel technology for simulation of forced reaction-diffusion and reaction-wave equations, with application to visual music."
Pixound, a software technology that enables the interpretation of graphic data as music and sound. It can be used to create both on-line and off-line interactive environments.
ScreenDance, a full-featured music visualization system for PCs, produced by Dave Young and Madeira Software, Inc. The product includes an integrated CD player, a variety of real-time music interpretation modules, and an open architecture supporting 3rd party animations.
Techno Light & Sound, a father and son experimental operation to make their interests in computers, graphics, and music available to others.
Imaja, Greg Jalbert's company that publishes outstanding animation, multimedia, graphics, music, and educational software for the Apple Macintosh.
Bindu, Sandy Cohen's music visualization process for MIDI where loudness is shown as brightness and size, and musical pitch represented as relative position in the display. Color may be used to show instruments, scale, voice, etc.
For more information see the section on Academic Visual Music Sites.
©1996-2004 Ron Pellegrino and Electronic Arts Productions. All rights reserved.