People feel a sense of occasion when something special or important is happening right in front of their eyes. It’s happening in the immediate present and in that exact physical space.
As beings living in the era of image, we are much more acclimated to a visual sense of occasion than the generations before us. We expect to see the weather reports, to see the news, and now we expect to see music.
Expectation and classical music
When we attend a musical event, there is either a conscious or an unconscious expectation that there will be something to see as well as to hear. In the classical music field, this is a major cause of audience decline, because people expect an experience which is musically, visually and kinetically dynamic. This kind of experience cannot be found in the typical classical music concert.
Jonsi – Grow till tall (Live)
A videotrack is for a classical concert what a soundtrack is for a silent film. It delivers a more comprehensive sensorial experience, offering visual hints that stimulate the audience in the development of its own mental images. At the same time, the music remains the unquestionable protagonist of the concert, augmented by a new visual approach.
The videotrack has no narrative, there is no story to follow. It’s based on naturalistic or lifelike elements, colors and textures readapted and synchronized in real-time to fit with the musical composition and the analogic nature of the instruments. The stage is an interface that discloses the elements of the visual composition progressively, following design principles that try to avoid the overload of information and remain constantly “in service” of the music itself.
The videotrack is managed during the concert by a professional musician and designer, following a pre-written score and using modern techniques of video-mapping and light design.
G. Rossini – Stabat Mater
The association of musical performance with visual elements has a more extended history than one might think.
For instance, the church music alone has an extensive tradition of visual and dramatic associations. The splendor of the cathedrals, the artistic objects, the processions, the garments of the clergy have provided for centuries a strong and effective visual and kinetic complement to sacred music.
Before Christians, in the whole classical world, music was more often than not associated with dance and other forms of dynamic and visual associations. Music was rarely performed as an abstract form, not related to a celebration, a ceremony, dances or rituals.
“For the eyes” and “For the ears”
The development of music as a form purely “for the ears” reached its peak in the great classical tradition of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven.
During the Baroque era, the two channels of development “for the eyes” and “for the ears” diverged radically, with the rise of ballet and opera as major art forms from one side and the emergence of full, absolute instrumental music from the other.
Schubert String Quintet in C major, D. 956 (Adagio)
It is interesting to note that during the nineteenth century, the popularity of program music produced a sort of implied visualization, in the sense that the titles and the descriptions of the musical pieces suggested images, that could be conceived only in the mind of the audience.