“Videomusic” isn’t new

I just read Sarah Pressley’s Sept. 9 story, “Videomusic creates interesting twist,” about Jean Piché’s “videomusic.”

I just finished my master’s in ethnomusicology at UT. My report is about a field of experimental art often called “Visual Music,” which is precisely what Piché calls videomusic. This is not a “new genre of audio entertainment.” In fact, filmmakers were exploring abstract moving images combined with sound already in the 1930s (the first visual music film piece dates back to 1921!). Perhaps the most famous visual music artist was Oskar Fischinger, a German immigrant who made quite astonishing visual music pieces, some of them with funding from the Guggenheim Museum. In 2009, I did ethnographic work in Los Angeles, a city with a relatively consistent history of visual music artists (including Fischinger), and where the only two organizations in the U.S. dedicated to promoting visual music (the Center for Visual Music and the iotaCenter) are located. In the past decades new media artists have been creating visual music, including VJ-DJ performances and software development (such as music visualizers).

— Leo Cardoso
Graduate student, Department of Ethnomusicology