Visual Music

Mary Ellen Bute © Center for Visual Music

What is Visual Music?

The history of Visual Music on film has roots in Italy c. 1911 with the experiments of  Futurists Bruno Corra and Arnaldo Ginna (now lost), and in Germany in the 1920s absolute film movement, with the films of Viking Eggeling, Walther Ruttmann and Oskar Fischinger. From this began decades of experimentation on film, then later videotape and digital media.

Dr. William Moritz wrote of “A music for the eye comparable to the effects of sound for the ear.”  He asked us to contemplate, “What are the visual equivalents of melody, harmony, rhythm and counterpoint?”  Today there are a number of definitions as the field rapidly expands, with work in multiple types of media exploring the varied correspondences between image and sound.




Center for Visual Music

Image courtesy of Paul Fletcher

The Center for Visual Music (CVM) is a California archive dedicated to visual music, experimental animation and abstract

cinema. Their archives house the world’s largest collection of visual music resources. CVM is committed to film preservation, curating, education, scholarship and distribution of the film, performances and other media of this tradition, plus related documentation and artwork. Its major collection is the films and papers of Oskar Fischinger, and the original research collection of animation historian Dr. William Moritz. CVM’s films, programs, and talks are regularly featured at museum exhibitions, festivals, archives and symposia worldwide. Many of the films in this program were restored by CVM. Please visit their website for visual music resources and DVD compilations (including Fischinger, Belson, Bute and others)

(Text courtesy of CVM)