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Music as an intensely visual experience

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Aaron Saunders, Jun 14, 2004.

  1. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    In this topic, I'm not talking about seeing a band perform or their video. I mean seeing the music, in your head. Listening to a song, and SEEING the music -- not as notes, but rather, as whatever images happen to arrive in your head.

    My best personal example of this is Dave Matthews Band - Crush. As soon as the (record version, not acoustic live version) song starts, this image starts to form in my mind. The intro to the song is a Bm chord on bass with a definitive groove and the rest of the band just crashes into the song. The image, formerly of this amorphous, colourless blob pulsating to the music as the bassline, just has a random image of maybe a waterfall crashing on it as the other band members slam onto it -- but lasting less than a second, just as the music starts to form around the blob. From there, the drums (not actual drums, but an abstract, shapeless image) fall behind the bassline and start driving it forward -- the occasional jerk of the blob is the snare spiking through. The bassline, however, seems to determine the speed and swell of the whole song. The guitar kind of...rides on top. Like the top of a wave. As in, the guitar is the top of the wave, travelling on the undertow beneath it, almost trying to go in completely different directions in the verses. The violin and sax kind of dance around it all, like sea spray almost. They weave in and out of the blob, the wave, and the abstract spiking to dazzle and add subtle hints. Then the verses start, and the entire thing is moved to the groove, and as the "Lovely Lady" part starts, the whole thing increases in speed, almost -- everything's moving as one, and it almost crashes upside a wall, and when the Bm hits again, it lulls back down for a moment, crescendos, and then goes back down. Then the chorus starts, and the entire mass just moves up and down, like the entire thing is part of the ocean in a storm, sliding around and crashing, and it lulls down again. The storm reaches an almost violent level with the violin solo, and it recedes again. The song goes through a couple more verse/chorus repetitions, and at 6:05 when the lyrics end, the entire thing just slowly swells with a laid back, cool instrumental part for two minutes until the end of the song.

    Does anyone else experience this? I can also "see" certain tones in my head. Like, the way an individual note would be shaped, if we could see it. Not notes, but a variety of tone -- to me, a P-bass sound looks very obtuse and blunt. It's very hard to describe the way tones look to me...kind of like a decision based entirely on intuition. It's there, and I KNOW it's there, but it's so difficult to communicate why, or what it is I sense. I have never given a name to anything I have ever written musically (I've never written whole songs, but a jillion licks, grooves, and little tricks) but I can recall from memory exactly what I want to play, even if I haven't played it for months, just because I can SEE the notes and tones in my head. It's also one of the reasons I love my fretless so much more than my fretted, because it "looks" so much better when I play.
  2. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Well, I was at a Phil Lesh & Friends show in '99 and I remember sitting on the lawn, closing my eyes and seeing very vivid colors if that counts...
  3. leanne


    May 29, 2002
    Rochester, NY
    "Seeing" music and tones and stuff is extremely normal for me, a lot of what you describe is exactly what I'd say too.

    Sometimes when I try to explain sounds or different things I end up describing what I see, and that isn't as useful, but oh well.

    It does bug me that music is so intensely visual to me, but it's just a part of it, so whatever. But I think it's cool, too. I don't know. Maybe I just did too many drugs as a teenager.

    I'll try to say something meaningful later. Hah.
  4. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    The great mathematician, Pythagoras, had a system that based colors on certain musical intervals.
  5. vbass


    May 7, 2004
    Bay Area, CA
    ^ Interesting. I was just going to say that I actually don't see images so much as colors in music. It's really hard to explain, but certain songs will be 'red' and others 'black' or whatever. It's weird...
  6. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    The colour thing is something that doesn't happen with me as it is shapes and patterns. I know a guy who, when he was in high school, used to have huge trouble during exams because he could hear music, and then the music would "start to form colours, and shapes", and he'd totally lose focus on the exam. That'd be incredibly frustrating, but he made up for it with bundles and bundles of musical talent.
  7. Whenever I listen to Primus, I just see Claypool thumpin and clackin in a funny outfit doing his strange stage walks.

    Which is exactly what he did with Frog Brigade and Primus when I saw him.
  8. ...but I had a very vivid experience whilst partaking of certain highly halucinogenic substances where I was watching the notes from Horst's "Planets" leap out of the speakers and flow around the room.

    It was very, very interesting. :ninja:
  9. Many, many, visual experiences with music and LSD in the late 80's. Mostly throbbing kaleidescope like patterns that were meshed into everything I was already seeing. During peaks, and especially with eyes closed, I could pretty much take it where I wanted. Amazing.

    I remember seeing an archaic looking Sabbath video, Ironman, and visual going to a very bad place. Things got really evil, spiked, and sharp for a few minutes (which seemed like 30 minutes). Not a good video for a happier-music-influenced-hippy-on-acid to see.