Visual music should be more popular!

Mon Mar 23, 2020 4:09 pm

Hi, I'm 24 years old and I've got chromesthesia for most of my life. I see sound as a color + light + movement in a 3D space. I see this as a whole presentation whenever I listen to music. Recently I discovered this software and realised that I could actually create the presentations I see with music which means that for the first time I can start to communicate what's in my head. I plan to create a series of visual presentations for videogame soundtracks. The questions I want to discuss are - why isn't visual music more popular? Why are there no artists who make visual presentations of songs and soundtracks? Do you think that visual music should be more popular in today's world? And how to promote your works as a visual artists? Sometimes I feel like the only person who sees the world this way.
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Re: Visual music should be more popular!

Mon Mar 23, 2020 9:32 pm

It is a good question and a difficult one to answer. In my experience it is perhaps for a number of reasons - take all with suspicion. Firstly, we live in the most vibrantly visual world full of fantasy, hyperrealism, psychedelics, tone, aesthetic that has been developing for centuries. It is a visual heritage that is hard to beat. Music has enjoyed a similar development and depth of sensation, and the two don't necessarily sync - literally and otherwise.

We have all had the experience, perhaps, of the book being better than the film, sometimes because the book has more detail but often because one's imagination is better, for whatever reason and whatever sense, than can be captured on film. I think that music is perhaps the same, peoples imagining of music might be better in their heads than a visualist can get on the screen. Being a synesthete you have an advantage but still, your experience may not compete with someone else's inner experience. Certainly, for me visuals can precede related audio events (or even imagined audio events) in my head. So Magic needs to stop being reactive software and start being preactive/predictive software. There are also, many young (and old) artists out there with a vision in their heads that they are unable to execute, either due to lack of skills, tools or a visual vocabulary.

I don't think the tech is there in terms of fluidity (frame rate), latency, HDR and visual acuity etc. and certainly, tech makers don't consider us a big enough market to make devices for us. That is not to say we are not getting close - but who can afford a 120hz HDR UHD 10K lumen 1:1M contrast projector.

Also, it's the fault of the visualist in many cases. Very occasionally I hit the spot and everyone gets it but most of the time, while I still trying (almost) as hard, I just can't pull it off. This is in a live situation and I guess it is partly luck and partly a coming together of several different elements. But even if visuals were crafted down to the frame (@120hz!) there's so much work and time needed to maintain the quality and accuracy that I slip up, get tired or just have the wrong idea of what's good - I am not a robot!

Lastly, visuals for music have been sullied by swathes of uninspired execution for so long that audiences (justifiably) dismiss it as wallpaper before considering it more deeply.
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Re: Visual music should be more popular!

Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:51 am

I could write quite a lot about this topic, having studied it in depth. But suffice it to say -- it's a lot more popular than you think it is! You just have to be willing to scratch the surface.

Case in point: today I came across this video from one of my favorite guitarists (and one of the world's best, and also the best-selling instrumental rock guitarist of all time):


So you can see, things like this are out there. I could tell you about LOTS of artists doing this kind of thing, but maybe it'd be more fun to find them on your own.

Also, if you really want to learn more about the history of "visual music", then in my opinion, here is the canonical book about it: I own a copy but I guess it's out of print; but maybe you can find it in a library somewhere.
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Re: Visual music should be more popular!

Wed Mar 25, 2020 10:40 pm

Thank you, I will check it out. Funny how that video of Joe Satriani was posted on youtube yesterday. I think that most people imagine things from daily life when they listen to music or they simply feel a certain emotion. Atleast that's what I had seen before I developed synesthesia. I don't think people see something like light show in their head but I'm not 100% sure of this. Perhaps visual artists could start collaborating with songwriters in music industry. For example if they make visualisation of songs from one artist and then have that person promote them. I think this way both visual artist and singer could be promoted in a good way. I mean, we should start visualizing the actual music that people listen on daily basis if we want to popularize this. Sorry if there are grammar mistake :D
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