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Fusing sight and sound

Our work in the classical music field deepened greatly over the past year, leading to more questions and a few revelations. One of those revelations, which arose from several studies of the music preferences and concert-going habits of younger adults, is that for many, music is fundamentally a visual experience as well as an aural one. A hypothesis, I suppose. For a generation that grew up with music videos and now YouTube, the piling on of sensory stimuli is hardly news. The inter-relationships between sight and sound are constantly negotiated in film, dance, and theatre, but presenters of live jazz and classical music are often less comfortable in this nexus. I dream about a study that brings more clarity to the relationships between live music and visual stimuli of different sorts. As part of the study, lighting artists and filmmakers — drawing on the full panoply of new technologies — would be commissioned to create original visual elements for specific pieces of music. What works artistically, and what doesn’t? For whom is the live music experience enhanced by visual elements, and for whom is it degraded? Is visualization of music a long-term opportunity for building demand?

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