Visual music  

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The Music of Gounod, a 'thoughtform' from Thought Forms (1901) by Annie Besant & Charles Webster Leadbeater
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The Music of Gounod, a 'thoughtform' from Thought Forms (1901) by Annie Besant & Charles Webster Leadbeater

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Visual music, sometimes called "color music", refers to the use of musical structures in visual imagery, which can also include silent films or silent Lumia work. It also refers to methods or devices which can translate sounds or music into a related visual presentation. An expanded definition may include the translation of music to painting.

Visual music also refers to systems which convert music or sound directly into visual forms, such as film, video or computer graphics, by means of a mechanical instrument, an artist's interpretation, or a computer. The reverse is applicable also, literally converting images to sound by drawn objects and figures on a film's soundtrack. Filmmakers working in this latter tradition include Oskar Fischinger (Ornament Sound Experiments), Norman McLaren, and many contemporary artists. Visual music overlaps to some degree with the history of abstract film, though not all Visual music is abstract. There are a variety of definitions of visual music, particularly as the field continues to expand. Visual music has also been defined as a form of intermedia.

Since ancient times artists have longed to create with moving lights a music for the eye comparable to the effects of sound for the ear. – Dr. William Moritz, the best-known historian of visual music writing in English, his speciality being the work of Oskar Fischinger.

Sometimes also called "color music," the history of this tradition includes many experiments with color organs. Artist or inventors "built instruments, usually called 'color organs,' that would display modulated colored light in some kind of fluid fashion comparable to music."[1] Several different definitions of color music exist; one is that color music is generally formless projections of colored light. Some scholars and writers have used the term color music interchangeably with visual music.

The construction of instruments to perform visual music live, as with sonic music, has been a continuous concern of this art. Color organs, while related, form an earlier tradition extending as early as the eighteenth century with the Jesuit Louis Bertrand Castel building an occular harpsichord in the 1730s (visited by Georg Philipp Telemann, who composed for it). Other prominent color organ artist-inventors include: A. Wallace Rimington, Bainbridge Bishop, Thomas Wilfred, Charles Dockum and Mary Hallock-Greenewalt.

Visual music on film

Visual music and abstract film or video often coincide. Some of the earliest known films of these two genres were hand-painted works produced by the Futurists Bruno Corra[2] and Arnaldo Ginna between 1911 and 1912 (as they report in the Futurist Manifesto of Cinema), which are now lost. Mary Hallock-Greenewalt produced several reels of hand-painted films (although not traditional motion pictures) that are held by the Historical Society of Philadelphia. Like the Futurist films, and many other visual music films, her 'films' were meant to be a visualization of musical form.

Notable visual music filmmakers include: Walter Ruttmann, Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye, Jordan Belson, Norman McLaren, Mary Ellen Bute (who made a series of films she called Seeing Sound films), Harry Smith, John and James Whitney, and many others up to present day.

In 2005, a US exhibition called "Visual Music" at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington DC included documentation of color organs and featured many visual music films [3] and videos as well as paintings and installations.

Examples

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Visual music" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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