Towards a Semiotics of Visual Music

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‘Visual Music’ has a long history, much longer than most people realize. Over time, several eminent scientists, musicians, and artists have tried to establish correspondences between sound and vision. Some of these efforts were based on scientific principles, some on genuine synesthetic experiences, while others were more obviously creative aesthetic choices. With the resurgence of interest in this field, the argument presented here is that now is the time to re-evaluate this canon of knowledge, to identify more clearly, and expand the core concepts at its center. A selection of works, by pioneering film makers from the twentieth century, are examined from a semiotically informed perspective, to reevaluate some of the history of Visual Music alongside new ideas from the adjacent fields of science, psychology, and neuroscience. To this end a range of principles/parameters are outlined that arguably constitute the fundamentals of all creative approaches that translate between sound and vision going forward.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Intermediality of Contemporary Visual Arts [Working Title]
EditorsAsun López-Varela Azcárate
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Mar 2023


  • visual music
  • music visualization
  • cross-modal processing
  • synesthesia
  • sound symbolism
  • harmony
  • semiotics


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