A Creative Visualization Of The Relationship Between Science And Music
Nigel John Stanford is a musician from New Zealand who is well-known for his work in the genres of ambient and new age music. In the video below, you can see a range of his musical abilities as he plays both a drum set and a piano while also rigging makeshift instruments from things like playing cards. This video is titled "Cymatics," and cymatics is the science of creating visualizations of audio frequencies.
On his website, Stanford explains how he became interested in visualizing sound:
"In 1999 I watched a documentary on 'Synesthesia' — a disorder that affects the audio and visual functions of the brain. People with the disorder hear a sound when they see bright colors, or see a color when they hear various sounds. I don't have it (I don't think), but I have always felt that bass frequencies are red, and treble frequencies are white.
"This got me thinking that it would be cool to make a music video where every time a sound plays, you see a corresponding visual element. Many years later, I saw some videos about Cymatics — the science of visualizing audio frequencies, and the idea for the video was born."
Though it took Stanford quite some time to acquire all of the parts required to pull off this incredible series of experiments, he had only two days to film all the different pieces, according to his website. He claims that the most interesting part of the process of creating "Cymatics" was that he wrote the music for the video after the shoot. In order to create the visual effects that you will see in the video below, he had to experiment with strange tones and frequencies to achieve his desired patterns. It makes sense then that he wouldn't be performing these experiments to the music, but rather imagining music that would match up with the visuals as he created them.
The result is an almost unbelievable representation of the relationship between science and music, achieving a rather synesthetic effect like Stanford intended. If you watch the video first with volume and then with the volume muted, you may very well experience nonvisual sensations during the second viewing. Each person's reaction will be different, but watching music being played without listening to it can cause one's imagination to run wild, mentally filling in the gap in which sounds should be present from each action.
Any which way you want to look at Stanford's "Cymatics," one thing is for sure: the imagery he uses to create visualizations of music are absolutely stunning and must be seen to be believed.