light_show_0

Watch the Clavilux, an ethereal light organ from 100 years ago

Long before trippy visualizers and computer animation, before liquid light shows or laser parties, Thomas Wilfred was building organs for visuals. He called the art they produced Lumia, and the instrument Clavilux – a keyboard for light. That first instrument was built all the way back in 1919. But unlike a lot of the spectacles of the era, this one is still hypnotic today, even after all the advances of cinema and computing. Drawing on a tradition that included displays of fire and fireworks, and the ability to place sound “at the command of a skilled player at a piano,” …

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krystall

Teaser: The Joy of Music with Light, From Russia and Beyond

::vtol:: “luminescence” workshop from ::vtol:: on Vimeo. Artists are, in endless cycles, rediscovering techniques that might otherwise have been discarded. And that includes performance concepts in the audiovisual realm. I’m this week in Moscow as a guest of the Polytechnic Museum (specifically their Polytech.Science.Art program. There is, I think, no more historically apt place on Earth to explore the connection between sound and image than the land of Scriabin, Kandinsky, Ballets Russes, and constructivist art, this epicenter of the audiovisual revolution. What you probably don’t know so well is audiovisual experimentation from the later Soviet period, and that was partly …

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ANS – Amazing, Eerie Russian Optical Synth – Now on Every OS [Megaguide to ANS Old and New]

Few early instruments from the last century can still sound futuristic today. But the photoelectronic ANS synthesizer is an enormous vintage hardware device that can already stand toe to toe with today’s most bleeding-edge software. It’s a natural for an iOS conversion, and an incredible amount of fun to use in software form – but also makes this a good time to revisit just how forward-thinking the original was. Before electronics grew in wide use in musical instruments, sound designers took a cue from soundtracks for film. That is, before digital, before analog, there was optical. Sound artists, including a …

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luanna

In a Swirl of Particles, luanna Uses Gestures to Touch Samples [iPad]

luanna is a beautiful new application out of Tokyo-based visual/sound collective Phontwerp_. Amidst a wave of audiovisual iPad toys, luanna is notable for its elegance, connecting swirling flurries of particles with gestures for manipulation. I imagine I’m not alone when I say I have various sample manipulation patches lying around, many in Pd, lacking visualization, and wonder what I might use in place of a knob or fader to manipulate them. In the case of luanna, these developers find one way of “touching” the sound. As the developers put it:

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bengavid2

Visual Music: A Waveform Made of Vinyl Records, Benga Single, Inspired by Seeing Sound

Benga’s latest video was released early last month and made the blog rounds, but it’s worth considering as we continue our ongoing thread on visual music and how sound can go from invisible to tangible. A stunning video whets fans appetite for the upcoming Benga full-length Chapter 2, constructing a wave shape in physical form as a series of vinyl records. Using some 960 hand-cut vinyl records, the track’s waveform materializes in stop motion-filmed animation. Physical as it may be, the inspiration, say the creative team, was SoundCloud. UK-based creative team Us, consisting of Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor, explain:

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Visual Music: SketchSynth Lets You Draw an Interface with Marker and Paper, A Brief Drawn-Music History

Today, I’m in London doing a hands-on workshop on visual metaphors for music, and covering various topics filed under “synesthesia” at Music Tech Fest. It seems appropriate, with the subject matter on the brain, to revisit the topic of visuals and music in a series of posts. When you make hardware, with knobs and faders, you’re constrained by physical space – the amount of room on a circuit board, the radius of a knob cap, the size of your fingers. But before you get there, the first step is to sketch an idea. Imagine if you could do that with …

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Visual Music: Send Audio, MIDI to Live Visuals with GrandVJ 1.5, VST

On Create Digital Motion today, I write about the 1.5 release of ArKaos GrandVJ, the latest version of the popular Mac and Windows VJ tool. The big innovation: insert a VST plug-in into software like Ableton Live, and you can pipe MIDI and audio to your live visuals for easy synchronization and collaboration. You can even, as the video demonstrates, run an Ethernet cable between two machines. (This works on both Mac and Windows, despite the appearance of only Apple laptops in the video.) GrandVJ is doubly interesting for readers on the music site, as it’s long featured a music-centric …

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enoimagecover

Words and Music: New Brian Eno Coming on Warp, with Rick Holland Poetry; Listen Now to ‘Glitch’

Artwork by Brian Eno. Courtesy Warp. Used by permission. (Click for full-sized version. I like to get my eyeballs up against this one.) Packed tightly with interlaced rhythms, set against crisp cool intoned lyrics, the first cut of Brian Eno’s forthcoming “Drums Between the Bells” from Warp can give us all reason to look forward to the summer. Mr. Eno has been on something of a roll lately. We’ve certainly gone through periods when he wasn’s necessarily in command of electronic headlines in music, even as he contributed in other ways – the 90s brought pioneering work in generative music …

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