The Online Visual Music Forum:

Natural and Invented Visual Embodiments of Music

This Online Visual Music Forum (VMF) is another manifestation of Pellegrino's work in exploring the field of visual music and disseminating information about visual music practitioners, their ideas, and their products. The first version of the VMF to appear on this site promoted a public event that featured the work of four leading visual music artists -- Greg Jalbert, Michael Wanger, Stephen Malinowski, and Ron Pellegrino -- all creating and residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. That event occurred in September of 1996 at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It was an Electronic Arts Productions event produced in collaboration with YLEM, a San Francisco-based international organization of artists, scientists, authors, curators, educators, and art enthusiasts who explore the intersection of the arts and sciences. The original VMF was a field test of the current level of interest and awareness on the part of the news media and the performance arts community in the San Francisco Bay Area. What I learned from that 1966 VMF was that, except for artists and media folks with a modicum of vision, visual music was still viewed as the work of the lunatic fringe - definitely not a part of the mainstream in technology and the arts. Forward to the middle of 1999 and the ground is shifting under our feet. See the 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 - strong signals that this movement is on the edge of being integrated into mainstream multimedia arts.

Visual Music is a focused multimedia genre of natural and invented visual embodiments of music. It includes direct visual translations of music and the materials of music; it also includes mappings of dynamic visuals to music either directly, technologically or humanly mediated, or coincidentally. Visual music finds its applications in performance, entertainment, art, business, and education. Lasers, computers, synthesizers, and video merge with dance, voice, nature, wildlife, dynamic visual art, and acoustic and electronic music to create unparalleled sensory experiences. These experiences are created by multimedia forms born of the marriage of current and emerging technology and the rich tradition of global performance art. The Online VMF covers the full range of perspectives including pure research, simple play, experimental intermedia, and interdisciplinary art. The purposes of the Online VMF are to draw attention to the latest work in today's multimedia forms of visual music and to its historical precedents as well as to provide a conduit for information on visual music to all interested parties.

This version, The Online Visual Music Forum:

Visual Music Forum Presenters on the 1996 Visual Music Forum

Greg Jalbert draws on a diverse history of arts influences, including painting, jazz, and world music. In 1986 he founded Imaja, a commercial software development and publishing company. Jalbert will be showing examples of his creations -- the Bliss Paint real-time software animation system, Listen music ear training software, Chronos multimedia timeline toolkit, and the ProtoFont font browsing utility. Jalbert is also founder and editor of Change Magazine (, a World Wide Web publication on art, writing, environment, critical news and view. He has performed Bliss Paint real-time animation projections with several Bay Area music groups, including the Grateful Dead, D'Cuckoo, Second Sight, Zero, Tribal Funk, Association of Computing Machinery, and YLEM, and at locations including Oakland Coliseum, Shoreline Amphitheater, the Exploratorium, and the ATT music stage at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The Bliss Paint software is used by many artists, musicians and video artists worldwide.

Stephen Malinowski is an inventor of music visualization systems that tend to be precise and literal rather than interpretive. Malinowski will be showing his Music Animation Machine, an animated graphical score for listeners which uses the pitch structure of the music itself to make the patterns you see. This precise correlation enriches and heightens the experience of listening. It can provide a remarkable awakening to the inner structure of music, especially for people who are sensitive to music but lack the training to read a conventional musical score. The Whole Earth Review called the Music Animation Machine "an elegantly clever way to visualize complex music," and information-display guru Edward Tufte presents it in his seminars as an example of a clear and beautiful representation of musical "data." Building on the principles of the Music Animation Machine, Malinowski is currently developing a toolkit for incorporating harmony, timbre, rhythm, and gesture in music visualization.

Ron Pellegrino is a pioneer and leading exponent of multimedia and music with affordable emerging technology since 1967 when he did the research to write the book on the Moog Synthesizer, the earliest book on the modern synthesizer. Pellegrino works with music-driven laser animation and music-based performance videography. Pellegrino's work in visual music brought him to San Francisco in 1972 to work at the National Center for Experiments in Television, at that time connected with KQED. Attracted by the early 70s already-in-full-swing South of Market multimedia art and emerging technology performance scene, Pellegrino made the San Francisco Bay Area his base and produced and performed in scores of multimedia events at Bay Area science and art museums, galleries, and universities. During the 70s he took The Real* Electric Symphony - his Bay Area group of musicians, dancers and light artists - on performance tours in North America, Europe and South America with US State Department sponsorship. His second book, THE ELECTRONIC ARTS OF SOUND AND LIGHT, published in 1983 gives rare insight into the flourishing underground Bay Area multimedia scene of the 1970s, a scene that set the stage for today's exploding multimedia business. Since the early 70s and continuing today, as a solo performance artist and multimedia producer, internationally he's presented over 400 public multimedia events mostly based on the theme of Visual Music.

A history of Pellegrino's involvement with visual music; written in response to email inquiries.

Michael Wanger produces film and video for business, education and entertainment. In his entertainment programs, Michael combines classical music with nature and wildlife footage "achieving an unsurpassed, creative union of musical and visual imagery." Michael's musical programs have appeared several times on PBS, and he has been nominated twice for Emmy awards. In addition, he provides stock footage search and acquisition services, editing of all media, and is frequently a speaker and moderator for industry conferences. Michael received a B.A. from Stanford University in Broadcasting and Film and an M.A. from San Francisco State University in Broadcast Communication Arts. His awards include a Kid's First! Award, a WorldFest Special Jury Award and three CINE Golden Eagles.

Site Navigation Links

Booking information and comments.

©1996-2004 Ron Pellegrino and Electronic Arts Productions. All rights reserved.