Mapping the Invisible: Conference Project Draft #1 Mapping the Song

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For my conference project, I plan to create a visualization of something that we all take in on a daily basis, and experience through a variety of senses, but never manage to put into a concrete, tactile format: a song. I’ve been playing and listening to many different genres of music lately, and I’ve found it difficult to put my finger on what makes a song appealing or unappealing to a listener. There is a practically infinite amount of factors that can determine a song’s “listenability” including tempo, harmonic character, instrumental arrangement, playing style, length, volume, etc. I want to make a map that visually represents the components of a song.

My plan is to make sort of real-life audio regions, like the ones you see when digitally recording audio in a program such as ProTools, but to color and texture them in a way that makes them feel hand-made rather than recorded and digitally rendered. By hand-drawing, cutting and mounting these regions, I want to capture the imperfections of any man-made craft. Often we allow ourselves to be dazzled by musicians for their seemingly flawless execution and airtight playing, but this view distances musician from listener, and belies the wonderful imperfections that make live music what it is. I want to highlight the idiosyncrasies of performance, the revealing moments of humanity when a drum groove skitters or a voice becomes momentarily hoarse. My hope is to install this project in a way that brings musical performance into the arena of visual art, and bridges the gap between different disciplines.