What does music look like?

Nicholas Rougeux is an artist who visualises music, creating intricate and colourful images using a self-made algorithm that can turn each note into a marking. The results are as beautiful as they are interesting…

Dyson on:
Dyson on:
Apr 19, 2018 · 3 min read
Have you ever wondered what music would look like as art? | Image Nicholas Rougeux

Chicago-based sound artist Nicholas Rougeux’s ‘visual music’ uses an algorithm which converts sheet music into a graphic catalogue of musical notes. Symphonies become intricate artworks which painstakingly reproduce every note. The results are as aesthetically appealing as they are clinically accurate.

Nicholas’ experiments offer a visual translation of the normally exclusively auditory sensation of the 20,000 notes that make up a symphony.

Each piece takes the shape of a circle. The song starts and ends at the top of the circle, running clockwise. Each dot that collectively makes the circle represents a single note. The larger the marking, the longer that note is played. Similarly colours are added to distinguish between the different instruments — with simple black rings for single instrument pieces.

In the past, Rougeux has created artworks using musical of greats such as Vivaldi, Beethoven, and Bach. Taking inspiration from the original programme from a performance at London’s Cadogan Hall in February 2018, including the first and last pieces of Mozart’s canon, Rougeux has here visualised the complete ‘Dyson Symphony’.

Title: Acoustical anatomy

Composer: David Roche, 2018

Number of markings: 27,268

Title: Symphony №1 in E♭ major, K. 16

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1764

Number of markings: 12,984

Title: Component Heart

Composer: David Roche, 2018

Number of markings: 634

Title: Industry

Composer: David Roche, 2018

Number of markings: 1807

Title: Holding us together, pulling us apart

Composer: David Roche, 2018

Number of markings: 308

Title: Symphony №41 in C major, K. 551

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1788

Number of markings: 60,148

Title: Alpha

Composer: David Roche, 2018

Number of markings: 501

Title: Omega

Composer: David Roche, 2018

Number of markings: 195

This article was originally published in Dyson’s on:Symphony magazine in April 2018. Click here to read more from this issue.

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