“Visus Sonitus I”, from latin, “see sounds”, is carefully choreographed and perfectly synchronized with the musical work “Cantus Arcticus” (first movement), created in 1972 by Einojuhani Rautavaara , leading international composer in Contemporary Music. It’s not a random visualization of sounds, but a faithful reflect of what I literally can feel and see in my mind when I listen to this Finish composer’s work, due to my perceptual condition called synaesthesia. I remember as a child that sounds of musical instruments had their own chroma in my mind, and I couldn’t help to see them, to feel them as living entities with its own colours. Also, many nature sounds provoke vivid colors in my mind, like for example the pure red crickets, or the orange-yellow birds.
The origin of this piece is simple: something extraordinary happened to me when I first listened in the radio “Cantus Arcticus”, the very first work I heard from Einojuhani, back in 1995. It stroked me like a lightning. It made me vibrate. I could tell something of my essence was in this work, as if his music and my art were somehow connected, as if we were both sensitive strings made of similar material, that resonate with the same frequency. With recorded sounds of birds acting as another instrument in the composition, this music painted literally my mind with colours: flying yellow sounds of birds in combination with dancing colourful instruments that fly with the music in a three-dimensional space.
So after listening to “Cantus Arcticus”, an unstoppable necessity was created to express this chromatic experience. In a tradition started from Kandinsky to Disney’s Fantasia, but with more modern techniques, I had the idea to create a true, faithful piece of animation that reflected what I could experience in my mind and that allowed the spectator to be literally involved in the music. That’s why I designed it to be experienced in stereoscopic. The intention was mainly to show this piece to the composer himself, to thank him for this wonderful musical creation.
The process lasted one year. Thanks to my experience as effects technical director in movies like Jupiter Ascending, Rush, Man of Steel or Interstellar among others, also my studies in Computer Science and my graduation in Fine Arts in Hannover and Valencia, and thanks to the the musical sheets provided by the publisher in Finland, I tweaked MIDI libraries in C++ to extract musical data and bring it to 3D Software Houdini, where I re-timed it to match the real symphonic interpretation and sourced particle simulations from the data. This work includes the development of different tools to blend and position cameras, to shade the instruments or to paint branches procedurally.
Finally, I had indeed the honor to show this video to Einojuhani Rautavaara personally in Helskinki. He experienced it in 3D and he was delighted.
So this work has already achieved its purpose: to exist in Einojuhani’s mind, to thank him in a humble way for bringing his music to life. A music that is resonating and ramifying and that for sure will make vibrate many “strings” of generations to come.
Einojuhani Rautavaara and David Moraton, Helsinki, March 24th, 2015