WHAT IS VISUAL MUSIC?
I was never fully content with the relations of my own films and their sound. I saw in every sound track a form of compromise and each presented a dilemma. Many viewers sense an incompatibility here and argue for no sound at all. Yet another argument is noteworthy. The eye, as a witness to events in nature, expects a matching sound with each event. Why should a visual experience, so close to music as these films, happen in silence? We think of dance and opera as a matter of course. On the other hand, apart from the obvious traditions that music and paintings are both wholly self-sufficient, why not a musical experience to be shared with, and equally involving, the eye? Why not visual color patterns which are so constructed as to weave with aural patterns in a fruitful complementary of architecture? The interrelationship might be as elaborate and the consort as true as violin and piano which discourse in the typical partnership of all duo or multi-voiced compositions. This would be a partnership that is valid only if the combinations produce interest greater than the separate contribution of either the aural or the visual member.
Here, many will argue that this is exactly the objective often achieved, in the relationship of music with dance. Yet the complementary in my opinion would begin at the very limits of the ideal of dance joined with music and proceed from there. For that ideal is instantly exceeded, simply because of inertia and gravity. The body has more – and the cathode beam has less – size and mass than the sound of a flute.
(Digital Harmony – On the Complementarity of Music and Visual Art by John Whitney, Sr., McGraw-Hill, Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1980, p.91)