Friday, December 18, 2009

Composing Music: Kill The Editor

Do you have a hard time coming up with ideas? How about having one of those sessions where nothing seems to work and all that comes out is crap? Do you have problems finishing projects? Do you start new projects with tons of energy but lose interest fast? Does it take you forever to finish songs?

If this is you, it may be because of your own inner editor that's inside us all

You inner editor may be killing your creativity.

Useful, Mostly

We all have an editor inside us. It's a very useful skill in most situations. It's the little person inside you that tells you when something might not be appropriate and stops you from making a fool of yourself. Most of the time the editor is quite useful if not essential to our wellbeing. For a lot of artists however, their inner editor is they're greatest enemy.

In art, it's imperative that we have this editor. Your inner self will question what you've done. It'll ask questions and cause doubt. It'll criticize and evaluate. These are all useful a point. The problem arises when you allow the editor in too early in the process. There is also the problem when you give the editor too much power and authority. The editor isn't playful and takes things way too serious. When you're trying to be creative, this isn't helpful.

The Exception?

Some people don't seem to have any editor at all. These are the people you meet who may be slightly delusional and no matter what people say, can't seem to see any fault in what they do or say. These are the people who can't take any criticism. When they do get some, they look at it as a personal attack and don't take any of it to heart. These are the people you see on 'American Idol' who are astonished and amazed when they are told that they don't have any talent; yet it seems completely obvious to everybody else.

The Norm?

For many artists though, their inner critic is all powerful. Their inner editor is such a tyrant that nothing they do is enough. No matter how good they may feel about your creations, the inner editor will get in there and tell them that it's terrible. It may not matter how many people tell them it's great, they still hold true to the editor's word. Some artists and writers go through their whole lives tweaking and editing their work until its 'perfect'; i.e.until their editor 'tells' them that it's good. The editor filters and distorts your reality. Sometimes it has great insight. It tells you what is good, what's not and it's spot on. Then there are times that the editor is completely wrong. There are times when the editor has no objectivity and only sees the faults. Unfortunately, since it's our own internal editor, there's no way for us to tell the difference...not at that moment anyway.

Cut It Off At The Pass

The best way to combat the over zealous editor is to completely shut it off...for a while. Shut it off when you want to get your creative work done Don't worry, it'll always come back. There are many ways to do this. One of the best is to simply set a timer and get working. Set the timer for half an hour or something short enough that it's not overwhelming. Then just get to work. Don't let the editor in. You'll know when it tries to get back in. It's that voice inside you telling you that what you're doing is terrible. It may be telling you that it's useless, this is bad, this isn't as good as what you did yesterday, it's too happy (sad, dark, light, whatever), etc. You get the idea. It's pretty much any negative thought. You also have to make sure that you stick to the time you set.. Procrastination can result as a symptom of fear and escape from the editor's harsh negativity. Sometimes that little bugger gets in there before you even start. It's then that it's the most dangerous.

Listen Carefully

Another way to ward off this creativity killer is actually pay attention to it. You know that you want to get the work done but there's something stopping you. Pay attention to what thoughts creep up that stop you from getting started or finishing. What's your internal dialogue? What's that editor telling you. You really have to pay attention to what's going on because the editor can be subtle. It may be giving you excuses like: you're being unrealistic (your work isn't that good), there are lots of people out there who are much better at this than you (so why bother), or your art isn't that important (you should be doing something more vacuuming). These are subversive little things that go on in our inner dialogue killing our creativity and our ability to get the work done.

Take 5

The best way I have of fending off the editor is to take a break. Sometimes in the middle of a piece of work, I would hear my inner editor chirping away telling me how bad this piece was turning out. At that point I would take a break and leave it for a while. If you have one of those long sessions it's a good idea to take breaks. This gives your mind a break; not just a break in doing work but a break in thinking patterns. You'll find that something happens when you take a break and focus on something else for a while (or focusing on nothing at all is just as good). This breaks the patterns in your brain. It's that same as when you do any activity for an extended period of time. Your mind gets into a repetitive state. This is normally good. This is the time when we get ' into the zone' and things just flow. The problem arises when we get into repetitive patterns and we lose objectivity. Our ears and mind also get 'tired'. It's harder to tell when our ears get tired because there aren't usually any obvious tell tale signs. If I've been working on the same area for a long time, I know that I'm no longer being objective and I'll just drop it for the time being. I usually take a couple of short breaks during a session and then make sure I have one long break before making any final decisions. The best break for final decisions is overnight. I'm always amazed at how different the piece sounds the morning after a long session. The problem areas usually jump right out at me. The first listen is usually the best. Take notes.

Sabotage Part 2

Unfortunately, most people remember their failures much easier than they remember their successes. By remembering our failures, we hope that this may prevent us from doing the same in the future. Learning from your mistakes is one thing, but focusing on our weaknesses and failures isn't a great mindset. It sets you up to be defensive and no take chances. I've had students who didn't want to improvise because they didn't want to look bad. They knew that it probably wasn't going to turn out well so that stopped them from trying in the first place. This is part of the editor within us. It will stop us before we even start. It tells you how bad you're going to be before you even start or finish. It's the editor inside us telling us how we messed up. It's the faults and mistakes we hold close. This gives more power to the editor who uses this in it's favor. 'If you had just listened to me (the editor) in the first place...' it tells us.

Important Stuff

You have to make your creative work important; as important as showing up for your 'regular' job or an important appointment. It is an 'important appointment'. If your inner editor is getting in your way, you have to work at getting it out of the way just like you work at your craft. Working on this shouldn't be a full time job though. Work at getting it out of the way and then get to work. Make notes on why you didn't get something done or why you abandoned it before it was done. Listen to your inner dialogue and see if you can find the reasons why your aren't being as creative as you can be. Being creative is like any other discipline, it gets better with practice.

To be creative, you have to be willing to take chances. You have to be willing to fall flat on your face and get up again. You have to try new things even though you may not be sure if it's a good idea or not. Keep in mind I'm talking about creative risks here, these aren't life threatening decisions. At worst you'll feel bad, at best you may create a masterpiece. Trying new ideas, searching for that next great idea is never straightforward. The most important part is keeping the editor in it's place and only allowing it to come in when you ask. It's always a journey. There are going to be wrong turns. Don't stop at the turn before you even get a chance to see what's around the corner.

Iotacenter - Site of the Week - November 30th - 2009

The iotacenter are doing a very cool thing on their site - each week, they select a clip of the week, site of the week and artist of the week.

Thanks to Derek Haugen of Iotacenter for selecting this Visual Music Blog as site of the week on November 30th.

Visit: - iota at:

Available at Amazon
Visual Music from Iota: An Anthology of Contemporary Art, Vol. 1 (2006)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Visual Music Survey - Ilias Bergstrom

Visual Music Survey - Ilias Bergstrom
This is a really worthwhile survey to fill out - it is great to see some research being done on Visual Music and Audiences, thanks Ilias for letting me know about this survey - do fill it out - as it's a great cause - Visual Music

Some more information

In order to find out which one of two different visual music technologies audiences prefer, Ilias has created an online survey for comparing them. Please take part by filling it out.

The survey is reached using the link below, and should not take you more than 10-15 minutes to complete:

Ilias will post all the details when the survey is closed.

See also:

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sound and Image Event - Colchester, UK

A unique event encompassing film,artworks, music, live performance and interactive experiences in showcasing the world of *visual music. *Items included range from pioneering work in the field to new pieces created for the evening, from cutting-edge to humorous interpretation and from international prize winning items to local endeavour.

"What does music look like? This is the question that Colchester music lecturer Julia Orpen is attempting to answer at The Headgate Theatre on Sunday 6th December.

The event, entitled “Sound and Image” is part film show, part art show, part concert and is the result of eighteen months personal investigation that has led to both local and global collaboration.
Sub-titled ‘The World of Visual Music’, the series of short films forming the heart of the event include an international award winner and contributions from Australia, Ireland, Austria, Italy and the USA.

Julia Orpen says:

"Experimentation in the possibilities of combining sound and image to create a new art form is diverse and wide-ranging....This event is intended as an exploration into the emerging genre of Visual Music and will range from cutting-edge work to humorous interpretation. There is something here for everyone.”

Music from the following genres will feature: Baroque, avant-garde, psychedelia and jazz

Films being shown include:
D-F-R: Alex Voorhoeve (youtube)
Happy End Von Parov Stelar: Thomas Techert (youtube)
Towards One: Maura McDonnell (youtube)
Nuances for Vox Victimae: Petrinio Bendito (music Didier Guige) (youtube)
13,3,7: 'Servantbass' (youtube)
Flowarama: 'Kildonko' (youtube)
Motion Painting No. 1 : Adam Bruneau

Performers include Bill Bradley, who will present a 21st Century take on a 300-year old approach to visual music, and Katie Taylor (Piano).
More information on the event at:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Jodina Meehan - Cymatics Artist

Jodina Meehan is a cymatics artist using sound waves to create permanent art, and she is also editor of the Journal of Cymatics. This journal is supported by a website, that has a lot of very useful resources, information and examples in the area of cymatics - this wonderful and incredible sound to art work of cymatics. You can become a member of this website also.

The Journal of Cymatics: The Study of Sound Made Visible, was founded in 2007, by editor Jodina Meehan. Reporting on the art and science of cymatics around the world. If you have a piece of cymatics news to contribute, do visit the website on how to contribute.


Jodina Meehan at work in her studio creating cymatics art

You can view Jodina Meehans creating her own cymatics work in her studio- view the beautiful patterns created in an excellent video that showcases her cymatic on the following page:

There are lots of categories on this website to help you browse through the extensive resources. One such category is the Cymatics Video Category.

This website has a lot of information and is a wonderful resource for cymatics

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Practice Doesn't Make Perfect

It's pretty much a universal truth; practice makes perfect. Musicians know all too well that if you want to master your art, there is no substitute for practice. The problem is that this statement is much too vague.

The Blind Leading...

Just blindly practicing without thought can do more damage than good. Thinking that you can just show up and go through the motions can install false hope and produce unrealistic expectations. It also may cause doubt and pain after a huge investment in time and money is made and there are no results or improvement. There are right ways to practice and wrong ways to practice. There are wrong ways to learn and wrong ways to work. You can actually practice hard everyday and not accomplish very much at all. The student who practices wrong may be doing more damage than good; wasting years of time and effort practicing the wrong things over and over. Or, they may be going through the motions of practicing without making any effort or challenging themselves at all. Essentially, it's not enough to just sit down and practice, you must make sure that you are going about it the right way.

Why Are We Here?

While this may seem obvious at the outset, a lot of students will go about practicing without thought to why they are doing it in the first place. Some musicians have the really bad habit of practicing certain skills without too much thought about proper fingering or technique. People like to practice the same material and skills over and over. Learning new skills and keeping yourself challenged takes some discipline. Keeping on track with planning, execution and periodic self assessment is hard. It seems so much easier just to get to it; even when we know better. If may be as simple as not looking forward enough to see how much could be gained by some planning and discipline.

The Two Finger Approach

A lot of the time, making that initial investment seems like more trouble than its worth,. We're simply too lazy, can't be bothered and just want to get down to the task at hand. There are some skills that people don't take the time to learn even though the investment would be quite small in comparison to the time and money saved. The best analogy of this is the simple task of typing. Many people spend most of their day on their computer yet never learn to type. Even though it will save them a huge amount of time in the long run, they never take the time to learn and practice the skill properly. Some people go through an entire lifetime typing with two fingers. If they took the time to learn the skill in the first place, with regular practice they could double their typing speed in a relatively short time. The best part is that this is a skill that will stick with you the rest of your life. With a little concentrated effort and planning you may achieve much more in a significantly less amount of time. When you take the time to learn the proper technique, you will only get better with time. It's a good idea to think about this when planning your practice regimen. Think about what it is you want to learn and how (or who to go to) would be the best way to go about it.

Do You Have One?

First of all, how many musicians do you think actually have a practice regimen? By that I mean a specific time set apart where the musician will sit down and follow a charted course of lessons and exercises. How many musicians a) practice simply when they have a spare moment or just whenever they feel like it? b) actually take notes during their practice sessions? c) record their practice sessions and periodically review their progress? Working at something without actually charting your progress seems ludicrous. Can you imagine practicing a sport without taking the time to measure your progress and results? Yet how many musicians do this? How many musicians take a haphazard approach to practicing, writing, technique and their overall progress? As a student of any other activity, you would never do this.

General Rules

I'm going to go over some general rules to always keep in mind when sitting down to practice. These principles can also be applied to any endeavor which takes daily, regimented action.

Always do the following when sitting down to practice.
  • relax and focus on the task at hand
  • be mindful about what you're doing and why 
  • review what you did in the last session
  • plan for the practice session
  • work on problem areas
  • work on new skills and ideas
  • take notes
  • stretch and challenge yourself daily
  • use a timer
  • include warm ups and fundamental exercises
  • make notes for next session
While this may seem like it would be a chore to do and hard to implement, it's actually like most other learned behaviours. Once you do it a couple of times, it becomes easier to do. After an extended period of time it will become automatic. It actually saves a lot of time and takes a lot of the guess work out of what you're trying to do. It's easier to stay on track because it's all right in front of you. There is little guess work. It may be hard for a lot of easy going, artistic personalities to get into such a regimen but once you stick with it for a while and start seeing results quite quickly, your attitude may change.

The Big Review

You're going to have to sit down periodically and do an overall review. These reviews serve two purposes. First of all it gives you a good idea of what you've done and what you want to accomplish. That way you can make sure that you're working on things that are going to get you where you want to go. With music, there are so many skills and things to learn that it becomes easy to work on many different things. It's easy to get into a whole set of skills that aren't related to what you wanted to accomplish in the first place. It gives you something to measure as far as seeing if you are actually moving toward your goal.

Secondly it also helps in motivation and keeping on track. It's all too easy to lose your place or even worst, lose your motivation when practicing. This after all, is just you. You have to try and be objective about what you've learned and if you're making any progress. If you've taken the time to write down what you want to accomplish, you can later go back and see if you've done what you've set out. A lot of the students I have taught get excited when they see the results in their playing. Sometimes, it's as simply as recognizing a chord progression on the radio, but once there are measurable results, it gives up the motivation to stick with it. There are always periods of what seems like no growth at all but then there are always moments of a-ha where you realize that have improved or accomplished something significant.

The Big Plan

One of the things that's important to do before you even start a practice regimen is figure out what it is you want to accomplish. Write down what specific skills you'd like to learn and what the big plan is. It should be within a given time frame. This could be a year or 6 months or even 3 months. Don't worry about being too accurate with your time frame if you're just starting out with a new skill. For a beginner this would include learning to play an instrument for an intermediate musician, it may be earning to write a symphony. You won't know how long this is going to take. As you get going with your regimen though, you should do a review after a couple of months. From this you will be able to tell if you're improving and it may give you a better idea of your time frame and how long it may take to learn a new skill.

Check, Check

You must make sure that you are checking your results and always striving to get better. It's possible to keep going over the same things and think that you are practicing but you're not. This is when people seem to hit that 'ceiling' and can't seem to improve. When learning new skills you may have to get 'worst' before you get better. There's the idea that mastering a skill takes 10 years but it's possible that you could work on something for a decade or more and see very little results. It's also possible for someone with a set plan, with the right materials and work ethic, to master something in a fraction of that time.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Working Solo: R&D

Last time we talked about some of the problems with goals setting and planning when working on your own. When you're a musician most of the time you're going to be on your own which makes it that much harder trying to get it all done.

What to Do…What to Do

Planning is simply figuring out what’s important, what needs to be done, and how it’s going to get done. The problem with the music industry is that there isn't one way to the top. There are as many ways of getting there as there are musicians. So what do you need to do? What's your first step? What's your next step? What needs to be done first? Of course the answer to any of these questions has a lot to do with where you are now and what you want to accomplish. There is no set approach for artists and musicians; more now than ever since the turn in music industry in recent years.


You are going to have to spend a part of everyday on career development. Most companies spend a good deal of time (and money) in research and development. As a business, you're going to have to do the same. It’s said that in business that you should be reinvesting a certain percentage of your profits back into R&D; otherwise you become obsolete and die. You need to be doing the same. That means spending time everyday doing some research in figuring out what people in your industry are doing to make it. Much like practicing and working at your craft, this is one of the things that you should be thinking about and working on everyday. How do you go about this? What do you do first? If you’re just starting out, you’re going to have to do quite a bit of research and a lot of trial and error.

This process of research and trial and error never actually ends; you just get better at it.

The ‘R’ Part

For a starting musician (or even if you’re not), you will need to do some research first. Go to your library and take out books. There are tons, pick a couple but don’t just read them, make notes and put some of the ideas into action. This will be the beginning of your master plan. Don’t worry if you’re doing the ‘right’ thing yet. It will become apparent what works and what doesn’t soon enough. Do some research online. Don’t spend too much time on this. You could spend years going through all of the stuff online and end up wasting a lot of time. Do the same process as you did with the books. Take some of the good ideas, print them out on a separate sheet so you can access them anytime. This will get rid of any temptation to do any extra surfing while trying to work on your goals. Make a list of some actionable goals from the ideas you got online and then get out there and do them.

People, Places

Get out there and talk with musicians. This may be your greatest resource. Even if they aren’t ‘rockstars’ yet, that doesn’t matter. Every musician has stories and lessons learned. Remember to take it all with a grain of salt. See what ideas you like and try them out. If you hear one piece of advice over and over; memorize it and learn from it. It may save you a lot of pain later. There is no substitute for real experience but with a little research there won’t be as many surprises. Make no mistake though, there will be surprises!

Always have research and development as part of your to do list. No matter where you are in your path, this always needs to be on your list. This must be an ongoing thing.

The ‘D’ Part

The development part has a couple of areas that needs to be considered. Just putting your research into action is part of your development. Tweaking that research and you master plan is another. Remember we’re talking about career development here and not about your art; development of your art goes is another article entirely. Development in your career also involves networking, administration and of course finances. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent years working on your craft, leaving the business largely alone. There is no place for this anymore. Just as you work on songwriting everyday, you must work on the development of your career. This means that once the research has been done and you’ve written down some goals, it’s time to see what’s working. Most businesses have a method of measuring if something is successful or not. They measure if it was worth their while and check to see if they can replicate that process. If you can do this, it’s a good idea but a lot of the things that you do in your development wouldn’t be so clear-cut. Sometimes the most unexpected things happen as a result of something that seemed arbitrary at the time. Sometimes upon closer inspection, there things don’t turn out to be as arbitrary as you think. It’s all part of the process.

Anything Happening Yet?

There will be times that you can see a direct result of something that you had done as part of your R&D. This may be getting contacts at a networking event, meeting other musicians at a jam night or simply getting sales from a local gig. When you achieve some success, it’s important to take a second and figure out why. If you can trace your steps back and see what you did and how it resulted in that particular success, you’re more likely to do that again in the future. It simply means that this process or goal works for you and it’s always a good idea to build on successes. A lot of very famous musicians have built a career on making the most out of one or two ‘small’ successes.

Your Career Workbook

One of things that you may want to do right from the outset is put together a career workbook. I have one of these for my practice sessions as well but having one solely for your business, planning, career and PR is a good idea. Once you’ve made a list, put it in there. Any marketing ideas? Put it in there. CD release checklists, networking events, etc. Put it all in there. Some people like to have their workbook on their computer. I personally find a binder much better. I carry it anywhere, doesn’t need any batteries or back up, and I have a hard copy of all of the most important items. This workbook should be opened at least once a day and checked. It’s important that this is a vehicle for action and results; not another system that you spend all of your time on tweaking and updating. It’s a WORK book.

Try and Try Again

If you’re just starting out don’t worry too much about getting it perfect. Check out some of ideas that you’ve found in your research and get started. Keep a list of what you want to do and what you’ve done. If something works, make a note of it. Rework the research and the plan. It’s a work in process.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lichtspiel: Contemporary Abstract Animation and Visual Music

Los Angeles premieres. Co-presented with Center for Visual Music

“Joost Rekveld has provided an undeniable masterpiece with #37.” International Film Festival Rotterdam

This ravishing “play of light” explores rhythmic abstractions in the cinematic tradition of Oskar Fischinger and visual music animation. The centerpiece of the program is the Los Angeles debut of Joost Rekveld’s #37 (Netherlands, 2009, 31 min., 35mm CinemaScope), a stunningly beautiful study of the propagation and diffraction of light through crystalline structures. Sure to bend more than a few minds, the lineup also offers award-winning animated shorts from around the world, most of which are screening in L.A. for the first time. Featured artists include Scott Draves, Robert Seidel, Steven Woloshen, Bärbel Neubauer, Thorsten Fleisch, Bret Battey, Michael Scroggins, Samantha Krukowski, Mondi, Devon Damonte, Scott Nyerges, Vivek Patel and Yusuke Nakajima. Plus the final film by the late CGI wizard Richard “Doc” Baily.

In person: Joost Rekveld

Curated by Center for Visual Music with Steve Anker.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

EraSer + vj Ape5 - audiovisual and experimantal project

EraSer + vj Ape5 are an audiovisual and experimental project from Italy.

More on ape 5
Ape5 is active since 2001 both as a VJ and video-artist, basing his performances on the research and experimentation of real-time video, interested in the interaction between arts and video and in the experimentation of glitch aesthetisc of the sound.
In 2005, he established on the the first net labels that focus on real-time audio-video interaction. Lately he is into building audio-video controller that use open-source hardware

More on EraSer
Matteo de Ruggieri using the pseudonym of EraSer has given birth to his own electronic experimental project through the art of circuit bending, exclusively playing with toys and musical instruments transformed by him, creating glitch and lo-fi electronic sounds on an intense melodic basis. An artist and circuit bender, he has set up the first italian website based on this art, has modified toys for international musicians.

Latest Creative Project

Future sounds like past toys

It is based on the concept that contemporary music and the music of the future "sounds like" past toys.

Experimental audiovisual net label

Vimeo Video - 3 Cubespirals

3 cubespirals from ape5 on Vimeo.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Working Solo: Staying Motivated

There’s been a ton written about the importance of planning your goals. It's common knowledge that one of the best things you can do to make your dreams a reality is to put together a list of goals and then take steps to get those goals done. This is rarely as simple as it seems. Take a trip online and see all of the websites, programs and applications that are supposed to make this process simple and painless. The problem with goal setting (and achieving) is that we all have different goals (approaches and applications) and different personalities (methods and motivators). There doesn't seem to be one system for all. What we're going to discuss today is a good starting point in putting together some lists so that you have a strong foundation. We'll look at some of the universal problems in achieving your goals. From here you may try any one of the systems out there and see what works for you. In any case, you'll have set the ground work and not matter which system you end up using, you will be heading toward your goals along the way.

You're Special

One thing that most systems don't take into consideration is the fact that no two people work the same. There are provisions in most time management systems that allow for folks to try and discern the most productive time of day and try to work around that but there's a lot more to it than just the time of day. People have different ways of working and different motivators. Some people like to work under pressure, some hate it. Some people need to work in a neat and orderly place, some people thrive on chaos. Most people need structure, though the amount varies a lot between individuals. Some people need a lot of supervision and feedback, some very little. You get the point here. There are a lot of other variables that most systems don't take into consideration. Some just leave these questions wide open and leave it up to the individual to figure them out for themselves. The problem is that these issues are really important and may make the difference between a system working for you or not. Let's look at a couple.

One is the Loneliest Number

One of the major issues people have today in getting things done is that most things have to be done on your own. This means that not only do you have to get the job done, but you also have to figure out what’s important and what needs to be done. Just as important you have to try and find the motivation to get do these things on a daily basis. The fact is that a lot of people don't work well completely on their own. Most people work best within a system with some structure. Working with other people, it's easier to stay motivated and on course. It's all too easy to let things slide when you don't have any one waiting on results. It's easier to think that an item isn't as important when it's your own responsibility and no-one's reputation or job on the line. The problem is that if you have an important item on your list that must be done, you must find a way in make sure that it gets done. If you boss tells you that he needs that report by Friday morning by 9, it's a lot easier to put much more importance on it because somebody is waiting for it. It seems easier for most people to get things done when there are other people waiting on it and you're reputation is at stake. That's why when people are trying to lose weight and going on an exercise regimen, they are encouraged to tell somebody they trust about their plans. When there is somebody waiting on a particular project, there is a huge built in motivator for you to get that done. When you're on your own, that external motivator isn’t there.

Feedback and Community

Along the same lines, another big motivator that keeps you on goal is feedback and community. When you have a community of people that know about your goals, you can turn to them for advice and motivation. Sometimes just being able to have a conversation about what you're working on and what you plan to do in the future may provide enough motivation to last for weeks. It certainly can help when you're not sure what to do next or if you're questioning the goal in the first place. There is also that built in motivator that we talked about in the last point. Suddenly there are other people that know about what you're doing and you may feel pressure to get things done just to keep up with the community. Community is also great when things aren’t going well. It’s comforting to know that there are others out there going through the same kinds of things that you are. It may also give you an idea of what the trouble is and finding a solution.

Welcome to the Show

It’s no longer enough these days to just be a musician. You need to be able to run your music career like a business. That means that most of the time you’re going to be doing a lot of things at once. Most of these things won’t be your area of expertise. You are literally a one person show. Even if you join a band, these same principles of running a business still apply. You won’t have the money to get all of the help you need so you’re going to have to do a lot of things on your own. You will have to start working your music career like a business.

As a business you’re going to have to set apart some time to make some plans. Knowing how you work, how to keep motivated and on course is critical for your success. At the end of the day, you’re on your own and it’ll be up to you to make sure that you get all that needs to be done…well, done.

Next we’ll take a look of some specific examples from the problems listed above and find some solutions.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Jean Detheux - Festival du Nouveau Cinéma - 2009

Audio Visual Performance

A Visual and Sonic interplay by the painter- filmmaker Jean Detheux and pianist Jean-Philippe Collard-Neven


Programme note:
"Normally, when you present a piece, you specify your intentions. But in this case, it is the absence of intention that defines our performance. We are not hoping for anything in particular to take place since it is precisely the “whatever happens” that interests us—all the more so if it is beyond our will or our control. We can say that the performance will be comprised of certain elements. There will be music, both early (Frescobaldi, Dowland, Couperin) and contemporary (Jean-Luc Fafchamps, John Adams, Steve Reich, Maurice Ravel, Claude Ledoux, Collard-Neven). There will also be free improvisation, music that doesn’t yet exist but lives only in the realm of possibility. At the same time, there will be images, drawn and reworked, as well as photos that don’t tell a story, a sort of abstract impressionism. Lastly, there will be a painterfilmmaker and a pianist who (re)discovered each other and (re)connnected somewhere beyond time and space and who very much look forward to the unexpected possibilities of their visual and sonic interplay."
See programme at:

See also:

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Quality Control

Quality Control album cover

Whenever the labels were going to release a new album, there was a procedure that they followed. It was all about timing and making sure that the proper channels were set up. That way, when the album was released, there would be enough momentum and they were assured a certain amount of press and air time. Things now are different. Now most artists do a lot of their marketing online. There is also the ability to get new material to all of their fans simply through their website and online aggregators. Because of the availability of tons of music at their fingertips, most fans can pick and choose what they want. There is no limited shelf space or even limited air space. As an artist you can pretty much now release whatever you want, whenever you want. Question is (just to be even more confusing), is this something you want to do?

Death of the Album

Before the advent of the internet, the album was it. Ever since the Beatles released albums like ‘Sgt. Peppers’, the album has remained the preferred choice for fans and labels alike. I’m still a fan and its how I usually choose to listen to the music and artists that I enjoy. I usually found that the tracks that I loved best from the artist were never the ones that made the top ten. But because of the internet, it’s now possible to get almost any song you desire. The concept of the album hasn’t completely died but it has now taken a far less important role. Like it or not, the single has once again taken the dominant role. The problem that arises for the artist is to consider even creating an album in the first place. There are many industry people that say creating an album is a waste of time since it’s probably not going to be ‘consumed’ that way anyway. They have a point but there is way more to consider here. You have to ask yourself some questions about what it is you want to do. If the idea is to create some tracks and then go out on tour then putting together a CD is critical. It’s also another way to sell your tracks online and gives fans another alternative. Like Trent Reznor has shown the world, it’s all about giving the fans choices. Some fans will want all of your tunes and putting together a complete CD package is the best way to do that. Albums also give fans a snapshot of were you happen to be at a certain time. I know that for my favorite artists, there are albums that I love more than others. In most cases, even if you do most of your sales online, it’s a good idea to put together an album since it creates another stream of income from your music.

Release It Now

There is one more item that should be looked at when releasing new material. This is what most industry insiders usually refer to when they say that releasing an album isn’t a good idea but they don’t explain it properly. It’s the idea of releasing material immediately. Since the distribution chain is almost immediate, you can release material the day it’s completed. This gives fans immediate access to new material and also gives them a reason to come back to your website. The advent of the big CD release should be reserved for special occasions when there is a market and gives you a great reason tour, to connect with more fans, and to send out press releases. Otherwise it’s a good idea to release material on a regular basis giving fans a reason to come back again and again. Some artists not only release new material on a regular basis but add other items such as videos and separate tracks for the fans to remix. In other words, break down any walls between you and your fans. Always give them a reason to come back. Releasing your new material is a great way to do this. Some artists have even released demos and asked their fans for feedback. There are other sites that allow fans to invest money into their favorite bands to help with recording and tour costs.

The Package

One thing that seems to get lost in this equation though is keeping your focus together. Sometimes it’s easy to just start writing anything and then sending it out there for fans to consume. There is a fine line between keeping fans back and simply filling up you website, just to fill it up. The point is that even though there is the ability to release whatever you want and get it out to people, do you want to release everything that you do? There still needs to be some filter to decide if the material is up to your own standards and musical vision. Even if the song is in demos form, is it a good representation of the band. Remember that once it’s out there, it’s out of your control. This is different from sending your stuff out for remixing. Once there have been new material ready, give it a day to review it and see if it something that you really want to get out there. There is a danger now that you can contact people anytime, to make sure that when you do connect, it’s for a good reason. Trust is the issue we’re talking about here. Fans know that if they go to your site that there’s going to be a certain level of quality there. Even if it’s a demo, they know that it will be of a certain quality when it comes to the content. There are a million ways to connect with you fans but there is only so much time in the day that they will be available. This means that when you do try and connect, have something worthwhile to give. There are artists online that constantly push their own stuff without giving much value in return. There is no room for that anymore. There needs to be content but it has to keep the fans attention. It’s not good enough to just have stuff there, it needs to mean something. Putting together CD releases is a great way to have quality content. Putting your newest tracks online for the fans to comment is also a great way to get traffic. Constantly bombarding people with your ‘go to my site’ isn’t. Releasing constant material without making sure it’s of the highest quality isn’t. People now have the choice to listen to anything that they want.

Quality Control

There are no surprises anymore. You can have the greatest marketing and websites in the world but without great content, you’re going to lose. That’s it’s important to always have new material but you have to make sure that it stands up to your standards. Releasing something just because you can isn’t a good reason. If you do this often enough you will betray people’s trust and they won’t come back. It’s been said a million times before and it still stands. It’s all about the connection with people. Release anything, whenever you want. Try to connect with as many people as you can. This takes a while and doesn’t happen in a day. The auto-replies and friends adders don’t work anymore. There needs to be a connection and a reason for people to come back. Give them as many reasons as you can to do this. Make sure though, that it’s something that you feel represents you and your music. Because after all; people and music, that’s what it’s all about.

Friday, October 2, 2009

punto y raya festival - 76 films

The punto y raya festival to be held in Barcelona on November 26th to 29th, 2009 (see website) in its call for works has collected an amazing selection of audio visual works. The website provides excellent documentation of the works being shown and is a brillant starting point for checking out contemporary audio visual work - both fixed media, installation and performance.

See festival videos page at:

The 2009 official competition program for the festival showcases contemporary work - there are 76 films from all over the world, there is a link to more information about each film and a screengrab from the film - this is an excellent festival

"This festival explores the ultimate synthesis of the form·movement duality in different spheres of human endeavour. Due to the simplicity of its criteria, it uses abstraction's prime matter to reveal the limitations and achievements of our representation systems.
The dot·line is the ultimate grain of our universe and of the sense we make of it; it's the primordial identification of all that exists; the essence of that which is matterless but builds up matter, of what is imperceptible but allows us to recognise all perceptible things.
But in the symbolic dimension the dot·line ceases to be an end in itself to become a representation of human thought."

Antonio Brech - Psycho-Sound-Graphics

"Sound Expression, graphics and audiovisual animation an experimentatl approach in line with their theoretical work on psicosonography. Intermodal ethic and integrated graphic design. This website is based on a few examples of their work."

Also see:

48X48 - Installation by Visual System

48X48 from VS Team on Vimeo.

Installation du collectif Visual System, pour l'édition 2009 du festival Scopitone à Nantes.

48X48 a été réalisée par Julien Guinard, Stephen Roques et Valère Terrier.

Une sculpture lumineuse interactive et contrôlable, une œuvre volumétrique en apesanteur de 64m2, le collectif travaille sur des structures architecturales provisoires avec une technologie détournée : la led. Conçue comme un espace de lumière sans armature, généré par son environnement, elle happe le spectateur qui mènera rapidement un jeu spatial (sa position), architectural (points de vue de l’installation dans l’espace) et cinétique (vitesse de déplacement), alors conditionnés par la présence ou absence de lumière.

Remerciement très spécial à Monsieur Thierry Pillet et à la Fondation Jean-Luc Lagardère qui sont à nos côtés depuis le début.

A previous post showing their architectural installations is here

Monday, September 21, 2009

Seeing Sound Symposium - Bath Spa University - UK

Practice-led Visual Music Research Symposium, Bath Spa University, 19/20th Sept 2009

"Bath Spa University’s Center for Musical Research hosts an informal two-day symposium exploring a broad range of multimedia work highlighting the relationship between sound and image. Areas such as visual music, abstract cinema, experimental animation, lumia, cymatics, live audiovisual performance and relevant installation work will be examined and explored."

The excellent programme organised by Dr Joe Hyde consisted of papers/presentations, performances and screenings. The mix of screenings, talks, papers and performances made this a really rich event and a wonderful opportunity to see and hear the work that is being created now in the area of practice-led Visual Music Research and to hear in detail how this is being done across many universities and various research activities in the UK, US, Ireland, Germany. Screenings came from a mix of historical works and cutting edge contemporary work.

Having just returned from the event, it was a great opportunity to see talks and work currently being created being shown by the researcher/artist/composer at the same time. For example, several papers presented were followed by screenings and performances.
The event also screened historical works and it screened a full and rich historical screening programme. Works from historical filmmakers and pioneers such as en extensive screening of Mary Ellen Bute's classic visual music films in the Mary Ellen Bute retrospective screening and an extensive screening of Oskar Fischinger's films in the Oskar Fischinger programme, were shown. The Mary Ellen Bute retrospective was also discussed in a paper by Sandra Naumann (Ludwig Boltzmann Institute Media.Art.Research, Linz, Austria) – Seeing Sound: Mary Ellen Bute’s Short Films. This paper really brought forward Mary Ellen Butes historical works as a really relevant and important historical figure in the area of Visual Music.
See the screenings programme at:

Jon Pigott -
Keele University - Music & Music Technology - Audiovisual composition
Bret Battey
Mick Grierson
Lumisonic (developed by Dr Mick Grierson)
Zai Tang
Stephen Callear - Cirrus
llias Bergstrom
Onar3D - Maria Louiza - HD (vimeo)
Jaroslaw Kapuscinski
Jaroslaw Kapuscinski - Oils Dream
Theo Burt - Colour Projections
Jon Aveyard – Explorer and More
Kathy Hinde
Dr Tim Howle (University of Hull)
Electroacoustic Movies
Light Form Movement Sound - a research by Seppo Gruendler and Cordula Boesze completed by Sandra Naumann
Jordan Belson
Larry Cuba
Jean Detheux
Adriano Abbado
Adriano Abbado – Kayuputih
Richard Lainhart
Richard Lainhart - Pneuma (Vimeo)
Bret Battey - Sinus Aestrum
Joseph Hyde (Seeing Sound Symposium Organiser)
Joseph Hyde – End Transmission (Vimeo)
Diego Garro - Performances
Steve Bird
Oskar Fischinger Trust and Archive
Nam June Paik and John Godfrey - Global Groove
Tim Skinner
Amanda Belantara - Ears are Dazzled, touched by sound
Nick Cope / Tim Howle – In Girum
Bonnie Mitchell / Elainie Lilios – 2B Textures
Karen Lauke – Copper Vibrations
Olga Mink/Scanner – trespassing (extract from Nature of Being) (Vimeo Link)
Olga Mink
Rajmil Fischman – ¿Te Acuerdas Hijo?
Andy Willy
Donnacha Dennehy (Music) Hugh Reynolds, Gerry O Brien (video) Performance by Crash Ensemble - Junk Box Fraud (vimeo)
Neil O Connor - The Glistening Bridge (youtube video) - (youtube recording of live performance)
Paul G Smyth - Red Film
Paul O Donoghue - Above the Thunder Clouds (Vimeo)
Fran Hartnett - Navigating the Pearl System (youtube) - Ogham Tone (youtube)
Shane McKenna (Vimeo)
Amanda Feery, Dream Machine (youtube)
Jane Cassidy, The Night after I Kicked It – youtube – (no audio)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

IQBIT - Electronic Music Composer - Collaboration with Visual Artists

Barcelona based IQBIT is an electronic composer from Rome based in Barcelona, Spain. IQBIT collaborates with Visual Artists, creating electronic music and sound for collaborative video and audio visual projects.  The works from these colloborations are both linked to research in synaesthesia but are also definitely are Visual Music.  Their visual music arises from a collaboration between music composers and visual artists, so the resulting video is a unity of the composition of visual and audio material.  Some of the videos are live sets - consisting of live audio and video. The words used to describe their works - sound video. Their live sets are described as Audio Visual Projects.
Iqbit myspace link:

Collaborations with xx+xy visuals

Bo Za AV project

IQBIT has created the sound for a Audio Video live set with visuals by xx+xy visuals.
This project is called Bo Za AV project and is documented online on the xx+xy visuals website. There are also high quality video excerpts.
Project Description: "Abstract and graphic audiovisual language presenting itself into rhythmic synch where the transfigurations is controlled thorough the digital animation process. The live project, sound and imagery are synchronized asserting a form of glitch minimalism re-assembled into rhythmic audio-visual landscape. Time of the gig 30min."
Watch Live Link


AV collaborative project by xx+xy visuals with IQBIT
"Experimental video project based on sound by IQBIT. The name of the work is directly inspired by the name
of the sound piece from IQBIT EP Liminal ‘08. This work is based on single black and white image that was
chosen among variety of images commonly used as desktop picture and typically representing beautiful
landscapes displayed on our desktop computers. This image is not representing any more urban landscape
with one bridge heading to some-where but is reconstructed into abstract and unique audiovisual language
presenting itself into rhythmic AV synch where the transfigurations is inspired and also controlled thorough
the digital animation process. This digital process of transfiguration of the image into abstract and computer
based work that use sound as source material, gives us the possibility to re-construct animations and
imagery through controlled rhythmic audio synch and effects of the software. The Rabbi sound and imagery
are synchronized asserting a form of glitch minimalism re-assembled into rhythmic audio-visual landscape. "
Source: Rabbi Project Description
Video excerpts at the above link also.
Quick link to video here.
Rabbi version 2 video link.

Zpac and Shart

Watch Zpac
Watch Shart

Collaborations with Lasal

Kristallographie - 2009

xx+xy visuals

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Center for Visual Music to Preserve Fischinger Experiments

June 12, 2009 - Animation World Network Headline News - Top Stories

Center for Visual Music to Preserve Fischinger Experiments

Center for Visual Music has received two new grants for preservation of very early Oskar Fischinger animation experiments.

The first grant is a prestigious Avant-Garde Masters Grant, to support the preservation of three nitrate reels of Fischinger's original 35mm experiments from his RAUMLICHTKUNST multiple projector cinema performances of the 1920s. The grant is funded by The Film Foundation and managed by The National Film Preservation Foundation. The Film Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1990 by Martin Scorsese, dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history. Joining Scorsese on the board are: Woody Allen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Curtis Hanson, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, George Lucas, Alexander Payne, Robert Redford, and Steven Spielberg.

The second grant, received from The National Film Preservation Foundation, supports CVM's preservation of an early reel of Fischinger's 35mm nitrate black and white animation experiments from the late 1920s - early 1930s, which includes early Muratti cigarette commercial tests.

Center for Visual Music is a nonprofit archive dedicated to visual music, experimental animation and abstract cinema. CVM has received a series of film preservation grants and funding from public institutions and private sources over the past six years enabling its preservation of animated films by Fischinger, Jordan Belson, Jules Engel, Charles Dockum, John and James Whitney, Harry Smith, David Lebrun and others. CVM provided films for the 2005 Visual Music exhibition at MOCA LA, the 2003 Jules Engel Retrospective at Redcat Theatre, and many international festivals and museum exhibitions.

Join CVM and help with their preservation and promotion of experimental animation (and collect cool vintage Fischinger and other premiums!) 

Thursday, May 28, 2009

martin böttger - QUBY


QUBY from tsaworks_martin Böttger on Vimeo.

Martin böttger, Germany has several videos on Vimeo - some of these are also installations. Excellent work and great audio visual connections.  This video he created with Maya.
His Blog: tsaworks

Of his many video excerpts on vimeo, this work creeated in collaboration with Bruno Dias is wonderful - such tight 3D integration with the audio.


TRACTOR from tsaworks_martin Böttger on Vimeo.

Vimeo Video Channels

There are some really interesting vimeo channels showcasing contemporary work in the audio visual field. These channels are a great opportunity to see what is going on with audio visual work/art/music today. They also demonstrate how many different fields that audio visual works are taking place in - such as in installation settings, as interfaces, in gallery spaces, as films and animations led by music collaborations and music label collaborations - there are just so many ways now in which audio and visual are being put together...I like to still call all these approaches visual music. (Author Comment)

Experimental Motion Graphics Channel

Designflux "Designflux exists as a quarterly publication, bringing together interviews, reviews and portfolios of the best in contemporary motion design. This channel acts as a means to showcase work we are watching at Designflux as well as to publish special information on up and coming issues. More info at"

Check out also - suggested by Gabriel Shalom

VPlay: An Interactie Surface for VJing by Stuart Taylor

This demonstration of an intereactive surface for VJing is excellent. The purpose of this interface is as said by Stuart Taylor on his vimeo page. "VPlay is an interactive multi-touch surface designed to open up the practice of VJing, encouraging new creative dialogues to be formed between VJs and members of the audience."

VPlay: An Interactive Surface for VJing from Stuart Taylor on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009



Ron Pellegrino's website has an extensive amount of resources that are of great relevance for any studies into visual music and visual music visualisers.  Not only does it document his own work, but also provides links to his writings on the area of music and visual studies and writings and resources on visual music. For example some really excellent resources can be found linked from the homepage of his website -
Topics and Resources such as:
Visual Music
Compositional Thinking

Of interest is his recent writings and resources and a book and DVD now available.


Some new visual music resources from Ron Pellegrino that should be of interest to music visualizers:

Just released on  and now available are 


Part 1: The Book Part 2; The DVDs
a project of electronic arts pioneer, Ron Pellegrino.
To learn more about the project go to the following URL - or copy "EMERGENT MUSIC AND VISUAL MUSIC: INSIDE STUDIES" into's search field.


eBay Auction Materials for a Sonic and Visual Music Synthesizer - Synthi AKS and Laser Animator

Also, a unique visual music synthesis system is on the auction block at eBay and will be there until Monday, May 18, 2009. To learn more the system go to the following URL - Sonic & Visual Music Synthesizer.. or go to eBay and copy "Sonic & Visual Music Synthesizer - Synthi AKS & Laser Animator" into eBays search field.

Earlier Visual Music Resources

The Electronic Arts of Sound and Light - The Electronic Arts of Sound and Light by Ronald Pellegrino (c) 1983 by Van Nostrand Reinhold Company Inc. ISBN 0-442-26499-2. The following website provides excerpts from this book.

"I signed the contract to write The Electronic Arts of Sound and Light in the spring of 1977, started working on it in the fall of 1977, and finished it during the summer of 1981. During those four years I spent more than 9 months out of every year on the road giving multimedia performances in the USA and abroad, teaching music composition and technology for a year at Miami University and for three years at Texas Tech University, consulting on business electronic arts projects, founding/directing and finding funds for The Leading Edge Music Series in Lubbock, Texas, and helping to establish the long running New Music America Festivals. In other words, I was actually working on the subject material of the book and writing about it during the cracks in my schedule.


The book covers the first 14 years of my research in the electronic arts - from 1967 to 1981. ... it's the first book to deal in detail with the subjects of visual music, real-time composition, and performance multimedia with electronic instruments (in the 70s and early 80s it was called intermedia or integrated media).

The notion of visual music, a sphere I've been exploring since the late 60s, is just beginning to pick up steam in the late 90s probably because the younger generation of artists is growing up in a multimedia world. The vast majority of older (over 30?) visual artists tend to be studio, gallery, and object oriented. They are materialists with a weak sense of the ephemeral and whatÕs involved in articulating the dynamical flow of time. Specialists in music seem to be too busy with their notes or generally disinclined to explore the sphere of visual music. Finally in the late 90s the new breed of multimedia artist is emerging, younger artists who seem to sense that today's instrument of the electronic arts, the multimedia computer, has the built-in facility for integrating the electronic arts of sound and light. The multimedia computer and a language like Java, that can function as a software multimedia synthesizer, bring us to the threshold of a visual music age."...

Some relevant links

Main Website for Ron Pellegrino

Katherine Lubar - Colour to Music Intervals - Painting

Applying Concepts of Musical Consonance and Dissonance to Colour

An edited version of this article was published in the May 2004 edition of the journal Leonardo (Vol. 37, No. 2)

Katherine Lubar is a painter and musician who applies concepts of musical consonance and dissonance to the use of colour in her paintings. This article on colour intervals is a most comprehensive account of how she does this in her work, it is also an excellent article documenting a colour to music interval correspondence. (Author Comment)

"After comparing the colour intervals to their musical counterparts, I do feel they share something in common — the colour intervals don’t have the same character as each of the musical intervals, but both seem to follow a similar pattern in terms of which work harmoniously and which don’t. In addition, I have realized, from this research, the importance of the element of contrast to both visual and musical compositions. So while these correlations may not all work on a practical level, they can at least give us a greater understanding of colour on a more metaphorical level. The idea of correlating colour intervals to musical intervals could possibly provide a new method of examining the way colour is used in visual compositions. It is worth analysing paintings that work well colourwise, to see how their intervals relate in terms of consonance and dissonance. I would invite the reader to apply the principles outlined in this paper to such works and to use their own perception of colour to investigate these ideas further."


Monday, May 25, 2009

Preserving Visual Music - By Holly Willis for Blur + Sharpen

Preserving Visual Music - By Holly Willis - May 8, 2009

"After more than 70 years and the explosion of visual culture, the stunning animated films of Oskar Fischinger remain unparalleled. Fischinger, who emigrated to Los Angeles from Germany in 1936 and became one of the city's central figures in a burgeoning avant-garde filmmaking community, created dozens of dazzling visual explorations of sound...

This question is tackled head-on by Cindy Keefer, Director of LA's Center for Visual Music, which is dedicated to this particular genre of experimental film...

one of the Center's key objectives is preservation. In this context, CVM recently announced that it has received funds from the Avant-Garde Masters Grant (which is funded by The Film Foundation and managed by the National Film Preservation Foundation) to preserve three reels of Fischinger's original 35mm nitrate film experiments from his Raumlichtkunst multiple projector performances of the 1920s."
Extracts from the article by Holly Willis
Read the full article >>

Visual Music and Abstract Animation Playlist - YouTube

Two playlists that I add to every so often on YouTube are Visual Music and Abstract Animation. They are by no means exhaustive, but I hope to add to this more frequently. If you have any suggestions for YouTube links that I could add to these playlists, please do email me at: I have other playlists but thought it useful to embed the more relevant ones here.

Visual Music Playlist

Link to Visual Music Playlist:

Abstract Animation Playlist

Link to Abstract Animation Playlist:

Experimental Music Video Playlist

Link to Experimental Music Video Playlist: