Silent Film Music and other Sounding Off

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Thursday, August 09, 2012

MIDI images, images into MIDI

Our son Nick noticed that the pattern of the MIDI graph I was editing looked like a picture. This morning he showed me his rendition in MIDI of the Batman symbol.
I told him I had done a project in 10th grade called Geometric Music, in which I drew various symbols—a square, a triangle, a parallelogram—and put them on a musical grid, exactly as a MIDI chart would have done, with pitch as the x-axis and time as the y-axis. I also charted an electrocardiogram. Years later I read that Eisenstein and Prokofiev worked on this idea also, crafting musical lines to the images in ALEXANDER NEVSKY. Peter Lehman in his book, DEFINING CINEMA, writes,

In looking at Nick's Batman logo, I wondered if anyone had created an app to convert images to MIDI, and lo and behold, he discovered photosounder.

Check it out, it's amazing.

There's also Nicolas Fournel's AudioPaint. And a reverse program that generates images from a MIDI guitar controller, also called Audiopaint. It would be great to take the Lumia Suite of Thomas Wilfred, a beautiful animated light piece that used to be on display in the theater lobby at MoMA, and hear what it sounds like. Although I used to enjoy just watching it in silence. Obviously the whole idea of looking at images and converting them to sound is part and parcel of my everyday work, but this is somewhat different.


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