Star gate

Animation by Douglas Trumbull, Music by György Ligeti

Every time I watch 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick I can not believe that it was delivered in 1968. Set to the mind blowing sounds of Requiem, Atmospheres and Adventures by György Ligeti the Star Gate sequence by Douglas Trumbull remains a challenge.

Rob Ager offers some ideas how to read this movie, even on the meaning of the monolith. Highly recommended.

[ Visual Music ]

Mary Ellen Bute is the experimental artist we need right now

This Animation Pioneer Turned Music into Pure Light

Via the Creators Project: "With kaleidoscopic and surreal imagery that dances across the screen in perfect succession to its musical accompaniment, the film and animation of Mary Ellen Bute puts the viewer in an alluring dreamlike world where music is not only heard but also seen. Active from the 1930s until her death in 1983, Bute was on a continued quest to unite images and sound through her work. In this pursuit she explored many different tactics of animation and experimental filmmaking, most famously oscilloscope-generated imagery. The latter practice involves using the oscilloscope, an instrument designed to observe and track electrical signals and use information about voltage and configuration gained from this process to describe shapes. Bute began filming the images generated by music she fed through this instrument. Cindy Keefer a curator, archivist, and director for the Los Angeles based Center for Visual Music (CVM) explains, 'She then combined those images with that same music and layers of animation. Other animators began to film oscilloscopes after this, but her work makes her one of the earliest, and a pioneer in electronic art.' [...]

As the rise of the internet and emerging visual and audio technology makes the relationship between audio and visual art more analogous, it's important to look back on the pioneers whose work paved the way for these developments. Mary Ellen Bute was not the kind of person satisfied with letting her ideas remain abstract thoughts, stating in 1936, 'We need a new kinetic, visual art form - one that unites sound, color and form.' Looking at her oeuvre in hindsight, it is clear the work is a well thought out experiment in seamlessly combining these elements."

[ Visual Music ]

Luminous Rainbow Wheels

Russian composer Ivan Wyschnegradsky

Via Slate: "Russian composer Ivan Wyschnegradsky was a 20th-century avant-garde pianist devoted to 'creating a work capable of awakening in every man the slumbering forces of cosmic consciousness,' according to his journal. To achieve this mystical ideal, he set out to create sounds that no one had ever heard before. His music was microtonal, a style that transcends the limitations of the 12-scale tuning system in traditional Western music. [...]

In the late 1940s, he translated his ultrachromatic compositions into these mesmerizing rainbow color wheels. He applied the concepts of synesthesia, blurring the line between sound and color. Each cell on these drawings corresponds to a different semitone in his complex musical sequences. If you look closely enough, you can follow the spirals as if it were a melody and listen to the scores they represent."

Thanks to Marcus Schmickler!

[ Visual Music ]

Organised Sound

Volume 17 Issue 2

Via ACM Digital Library: "Table of Contents:

Editorial by Nick Fox-gieg, Cindy Keefer, Margaret Schedel   

From sonic art to visual music: Divergences, convergences, intersections by Diego Garro
This paper introduces strategies for the electroacoustic community to relate to, and engage with, the visual music phenomenon. It addresses technological, historical, cultural and idiomatic intersections between the two art forms. From the personal viewpoint ...

Consonance and dissonance in visual music by Bill Alves
The concepts of consonance and dissonance broadly understood can provide structural models for creators of visual music. The application of words such as 'harmony' across both music and visual arts indicates potential correspondences not just between ...

Translation, emphasis, synthesis, disturbance: On the function of music in visual music by Anton Fuxjäger
Starting from the premiss that the central aesthetic feature of non-representational moving images (visual music) is their structuring of reception time, the function of the accompanying music in contributing to the total (combined) temporal structure ...

The evolution of notational innovations from the mobile score to the screen score by Lindsay Vickery
This article examines the evolution of music notational practices from avant-garde-era experiments in 'mobility' to the advent of the digital 'screen score'. It considers the varied goals of the composers who initiated these developments and the dissonance ...

The oramics machine: From vision to reality by Peter Manning
The pioneering contributions of Daphne Oram to visual music, notably the construction of her unique synthesiser known as the Oramics Machine during the 1960s, have yet to be fully recognised. The development of this synthesiser, in terms of both the ...

Audiovisual harmony: The realtime audiovisualisation1 of a single data source in construction in zhuangzi by Ryo Ikeshiro
This paper explores the context and technical and aesthetic considerations behind the author's generative and improvisational audiovisual work, Construction in Zhuangzi (2011), and in particular the approach of 'audiovisualising' the same source ...

Depth modulation: Composing motion in immersive audiovisual spaces by Ewa Trębacz
The field of electroacoustic music has witnessed years of extensive exploration of aural spatial perception and an abundance of spatialisation techniques. Today the growing ubiquity of visual 3D technologies gives artists a similar opportunity in the ...

Visual music after cage: Robert breer, expanded cinema and stockhausen's originals (1964) by Andrew v. Uroskie
Within William Seitz's 1961 exhibition The Art of Assemblage for the New York Museum of Modern Art, the question of framing-of art's exhibitionary situation within and against a given environment-had emerged as perhaps the major issue of postwar ...

Musique concrète thinking in visual music practice: Audiovisual silence and noise, reduced listening and visual suspension by Joseph Hyde
This article is based on my creative practice as an electroacoustic composer who has developed a practice of audiovisual composition broadly sited within the field of visual music. A brief contextual survey sites my work by first presenting a personal ...

Acousmate: History and de-visualised sound in the schaefferian tradition by Brian Kane
The word acousmatic has a strange and complicated history. Recent Schaefferian accounts have replicated François Bayle's sketch of the histoire du mot from his Musique acousmatique-in particular, the assumed synonymy between acousmatique ..."

Thanks to Marc Matter!

[ Visual Music ]

It’s all there for you now! Go forth!

Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise (1963-67)

Via The Hum: "Treatise, which was composed between 1963 and 1967, is considered to be Cornelius Cardew’s greatest achievement. It’s also a total head-fuck for anyone who attempts to approach it. It’s a 193 page graphic score with no instruction – completely in the hands of the conductor and musicians who interpret it. Whatever you make of the music that grows from it, Treatise is an undeniable thing of aesthetic beauty. The work is rarely realized in its totality. Performers tend to focus on distinct passages. It can be performed by a single player, or by as large an ensemble as possible. There is no indication of preferred instrumentation or duration. Because the work bears no description beyond itself, there is little to say about it. Wanting to share it, I’ve included three realizations focused on pages 1-14, 57-58, and 140-165, by separate ensembles respectively. I’ve also included a series of images which depict the score in its totality, an image of the original bound score made by Cadrew, and scans of the each of its entire 193 pages. I hope you enjoy."

[ Visual Music ]

Birth of Music Visualization

The Clavilux by Thomas Wilfred

Via Modern Mechanix: "The Clavilux has three manuals and a triple light chamber, corresponding respectively to the keyboard and wind chest of the pipe organ. Disk keys appear on the manual, moving to and from the operator and playing color and form almost as the pipe organ plays sound.

There are 100 positions for each key, making possible almost infinite combinations of color and form. The music, or notation, is printed in figures upon a five-lined staff, three staves joined, as treble and bass clefs are joined for piano, to provide a clef for each of the three manuals. A color chord is represented by three figures as, for example, 40-35-60; and movement of the prescribed keys to the designated positions on the numbered scale of the keyboard produces the desired figure.

The artist sits at the keyboard with the notation book before him. He releases the light by means of switches. By playing upon the keys he projects it upon the screen, molds it into form, makes the form move and change in rhythm, introduces texture and depth, and finally injects color of perfect purity in any degree of intensity.

The light is concentrated into a beam which is projected through a form-producing device for depth and texture, then filtered through colored screens. And then in a darkened hall, through the three – dimensional projection of the color organ, the light pours from lenses at the back of the instrument and the flat white screen is made a window into space where fluid light-forms are built up in fantastic compositions. The result on seeing it for the first time is the same as if music had never existed and one were suddenly to hear the strains of a violin."

Thanks to Joost Rekvelt!

[ Visual Music ]

Hand drawn on film and made from cut paper

Listen to early Soviet synthesizer music

Via Dangerous Minds: "Sometime in the early 1920s the Bauhaus artist László Moholy-Nagy suggested that a new form of music writing could be created from the grooves in phonographic records. He believed experimenting with the groves would enable composers, musicians and artists to produce music without recording any instruments. Long before scratching, Moholy-Nagy also believed the phonograph could become an overall instrument… which supersedes all instruments used so far.

With the arrival of synchronized sound in movies, as seen and heard in the first talkie The Jazz Singer in 1927, Moholy-Nagy refined his idea believing a whole new world of abstract sound could be created from experimentation with the optical film sound track. He hoped such experimentation would enrich the sphere of our aural experience, by producing sounds that were entirely unknown.

In 1929, the Russians produced their first talkie, the snappily titled The Five Year Plan for Great Works. The possibility of synchronized sound inspired a trio of pioneers, composer Arseny Avraamov, animator Mikhail Tsihanovsky and engineer Evgeny Sholpo who were fascinated by the curved loops, arcs and waveforms on the optical soundtrack. The patterns made them wonder if synthetic music could be created by drawing directly onto the sound track. Of course, this they did, at first testing out vase-shapes and ellipses then Egyptian hieroglyphs—all with startling results.

In 1930, Avraamov produced (possibly) the first short film with a hand-drawn synthetic soundtrack. [...]

Elsewhere, Nikolai Voinov was developing the idea of cutting paper to create a synthetic soundtrack—a technique that used magnetic tape and an ultra-chromatic 48 tune microtonal system which was produced by drawing on the magnetic tape. Voinov produced very basic short animations using this technique such as Rachmaninov Prelude (1932) and The Dance of the Crow (1933)."

Thanks to Andrew Mottl!

[ Visual Music ]

Can Synesthesia Be Learned?

Adults Can Be Trained to Acquire Synesthetic Experiences

Via On Psychology and Neuroscience: "However, participants gained more than these perceptions. Bor et al. (2014) also found that participants who completed training showed an increase in their IQ by an average of 12 points, compared to controls. This suggests that there is something about learning synesthetic links that can result in an enhanced cognitive ability. These results are useful and exciting to explore. It is possible that this training could help individuals at risk for dementia or other diseases that cause cognitive decline."

[ Visual Music ]

The Sound of Sorting

Audibilization and Visualization of Sorting Algorithms

Via YouTube: "Sorts random shuffles of integers, with both speed and the number of items adapted to each algorithm's complexity. The algorithms are: selection sort, insertion sort, quick sort, merge sort, heap sort, radix sort (LSD), radix sort (MSD), std::sort (intro sort), std::stable_sort (adaptive merge sort), shell sort, bubble sort, cocktail shaker sort, gnome sort, bitonic sort and bogo sort (30 seconds of it)."

Via Panthema: "This web page presents my own demo program for sortings algorithms, called The Sound of Sorting, which both visualizes the algorithms internals and their operations, and generates sound effects from the values being compared. See below for YouTube videos created with the demo.

The demo is implemented using the cross-platform toolkits wxWidgets and SDL, can be executed on Windows, Linux and Mac, and runs in real time.

All of the sorting algorithms are implemented in the SortAlgo.cpp.

Since November 2013, there is also the SoS-CheatSheet.pdf, which contains pseudo-code of a small selection of the algorithms.

On 2013-10-24, the viral YouTube video infected the front page of my current employer: the Department of Informatics at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), which is of course whom I originally made the demo program for. See the blog post about this occasion for another more technical description of the sorting demo program."

Thanks to Florian Zeeh!

[ Visual Music ]

Geometry Dash

More Visual Music games

Via Wikipedia:"Geometry Dash is a 2013 mobile game, developed by Sweden-based developer Robert Topala, and also published by RobTop Games, which was founded by himself. It is a rhythm-based running game which has 16 levels currently, with each stage featuring unique background music. Although the player is not required to complete a level to advance to the next, they will often increase in difficulty. Other features of the game that exist in the latest versions is the level builder, map packs, user-created levels, secret coins, and a great variety of icons.

Topala also created a free version of the game, known simply as Geometry Dash Lite, which include the first 6 levels of full version up to now. This variant, excluding several features from the paid version, also does not feature level builder and user-created levels. Geometry Dash Lite has, however, been far more popular of a game in both the App Store and Play Store due to its pricing."

Via Cult of Mac: "His quirky, rhythm-based running game, a $1.99 gem called Geometry Dash, went on to own the App Store, crawling in less than a year from total obscurity to the top of the paid iPhone charts. 'Word of mouth,' says Topala, explaining his game’s monumental success. 'It’s as simple and frightening as that.'

As it happens, word of mouth may be an understatement. The super-addictive Geometry Dash has become an iOS superstar and is now spreading to other platforms like Android and Windows Phone. All told, Topala says the game has been downloaded more than 20 million times, across both paid and non-paid versions.

So what’s his secret?

For starters, we’re in the midst of a golden age for independent game developers in the iOS App Store. One of the big advantages of the platform is the level of interaction it allows between the coders who make games and the people who play them. For example, most indie devs are more than happy to strike up in-depth conversations with players — something almost unheard of in the world of AAA games, the classification given to those titles with the highest development budgets and levels of promotion (think Grand Theft Auto V or Mass Effect).

Topala wisely took things to the next level. While most indie developers go no further than soliciting feedback about features that gamers would like to see in future versions, with Geometry Dash Topala fully embraced the idea of letting his game be driven by its players. He created a level editor mode that lets users create and share their own levels of the hit game. More than 500,000 such custom stages exist now.

'The amount of user-generated content is insane, and the quality of many levels is truly amazing,' he says."

Thanks to Stephanie von Fragstein!

[ Visual Music ]