When I thought about the idea of creating visual music, the first thing that popped into my head was the work of composer Morton Feldman. While his music is not “visual” in the sense that there are no pictures associated with the music, his pieces are so tactile that while listening to them you are almost forced to imagine a painting, with the notes and timbres of various instruments as splashes of colors upon the canvas of time. This inspired me to try to visualize the pictures I had always imagined when listening to Feldman’s music.
The selection of the piece was my first step. It proved harder than I initially predicted to find a piece that captured the essence of visual sound in a one minute clip of Feldman’s work, but I eventually happened upon “Rothko Chapel,” a Feldman piece written in honor of the painter Mark Rothko. I was happy to use this piece because it made the visual representation somewhat simpler, seeing as how I already had some sort of visual baseline to go from. Listening to the piece, you can hear that Feldman uses textures in a way similar to that of a Rothko painting, with broad strokes of static yet still shifting chords, punctuated by the rapid movements of a string demonstrating the tension inherent in Rothko’s pieces, all bookended by moments of meditative silence. The goal for my piece was to represent the clearly visual aspects of the composition in a visual manner that was also in the style of Rothko’s work, to tie it all together.
Ultimately, I don’t think my piece is that much of a success. Flash animation is not much of a strong suit for me so a lot of the animations seemed clumsy and amateurish, not really capturing the meditative reflectiveness of the piece. I also think pieces such as these need time to grow, and cutting it down to a one minute interval really ruined that growth, and forced me to create too much monophonous movement with the music rather than interpreting the growth in a more fluid manner.