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The augmented tonoscope towards a deeper understanding of the interplay between sound and image in visual music

Sykes, Lewis Jeremy (2015) The augmented tonoscope towards a deeper understanding of the interplay between sound and image in visual music. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

This thesis presents the theoretical, technical and aesthetic concerns in realising a harmonic complementarity and more intimate perceptual connection between music and moving image. It explores the inspirations and various processes involved in creating a series of artistic works - attached as a portfolio and produced as the research. This includes the Cymatic Adufe (v1.1) - a sound-responsive, audiovisual installation; Stravinsky Rose (v2.0) - an audiovisual short in Dome format; and the live performance works of Whitney Triptych (v1.2), Moiré Modes (v1.1) and Stravinsky Rose (v3.0). The thesis outlines an approach towards realising a deeper understanding of the interplay between sound and image in Visual Music - through applying: the Differential Dynamics of pioneering, computer-aided, experimental animator John Whitney Sr.; alternate musical tunings based on harmonic consonance and the Pythagorean laws of harmony; and sound’s ability to induce physical form and flow via Cymatics - the study of wave phenomena and vibration - a term coined by Dr. Hans Jenny for his seminal research into these effects in the 1960s and 70s, using a device of his own design - the ʻtonoscopeʼ. The thesis discusses the key method for this artistic investigation through the design, fabrication and crafting of a hybrid analogue/digital audiovisual instrument - a contemporary version of Jenny’s sound visualisation tool - The Augmented Tonoscope. It details the developmental process which has realised a modular performance system integrating sound making, sound analysis, analogue outputs, virtual systems, musical interface and recording and sequencing. Finally, the thesis details the impact of this system on creating audiovisualisation of a distinct quality through: a formalist, minimal, decluttered aesthetic; a direct, elemental and real-time correspondence between sound and image; a mirroring of music’s innate movement and transition within the visual domain; and an underlying concord or harmony between music and moving image.

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