synaesthesia and visual music

Artists have been interested in translating visual information to sound and vica versa.
Does science do anything like this?
Why do we (they) do this?

visual music

According to Wikipedia, visual music can mean many things:

  • the use of musical structures in visual imagery;
  • methods or devices which can translate sounds or music into a related visual presentation;
  • systems converting sound to visual forms (film, graphics, installations, performances);
  • translation of music to painting;
  • form of intermedia;

and the definition is constantly expending. I like intermedia the most, where the information to be translated can originate from both. Well, and perhaps information can go in both direction, feeding each other. Think about how programming and sensors in a live performance could help!

Also, have you heard of the terms
cross-disciplinary and


According to Wikipedia, synaesthesia

is a perceptual phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway.

In this video Jamie Ward explains further:

Common types explained further and source of the above video can be found here.

Visual Music Examples

The Twittering Machine

of Paul Klee

musical interpretation 1 by Gunther Schuller here.

musical interpretation 2 by Cindy McTee here.

Gunter and Cindy are the composers who interpret the visuals. Then this composition is further refined by the conductor and the instrument players and then finally by the listener. We all add nuances to the what we are given as information. Isn’t this a bit like gossiping?

Dance of Light

by Rhea Quien

musical interpretations by ARU M4MI cohort (2017) here.

visual music in resources