Please Note:

In 2009, this section of my site, along with a number of others, was extended, developed, polished, and folded into my latest project, Emergent Music And Visual Music: Inside Studies. The new project includes a book, a set of four DVDs, soon to be released CDs, and, eventually to be released, Part 4 featuring the writings and compositions of other artists in field. For more details on the project, go to its Introduction.

From the Explanatory Notes of Visual Music Studies, Volume 1 - Pythagoras & Pellegrino In Petaluma - of the Visual Music Studies DVD Series by Ron Pellegrino, composer:


These DVDs are the first volumes of a multi-volume series designed to serve as a basis for Visual Music Studies. The presentational form of the DVDs is like a record of a combination of visits to my studios and to my public presentations. What's included should be considered as samples of what's possible with the particular systems I use. The materials are collections based on my personal preferences, ways I prefer to hear, to see, and to explore. What's been included has also been shaped by the somewhat limited nature of the recording systems, specifically the video and DVD recording systems. In these visual music studies the experienced eye will notice some glitches from the original analog video recordings as well as other types of anomalies that are characteristic of media translations and media transpositions. In my view, there's much to be learned from studying relatively uncut, raw versions of the real-time compositional process in much the same way one would experience it sitting next to me in my studios or at my performances. The individual studies are various combinations of the sort of raw as well as more developed material you would expect to find in a composer's notebook or an artist's sketchpad.

The purpose of the Visual Music Studies DVD series is to present a feeling for and insight into the experimental process that drives the electronic arts of sound and light. The studies can be used to get a sense of the rhythm of exploration in the performance context. The studies can also be thought of as a guided tour through the sound and light possibilities of particular visual music system configurations. Conceptually the configurations should be viewed as electronic ragas - collections of melodies, rhythms, and tunings that I've honed over the years to make them available as real-time compositional material to be used in a fashion very similar to the traditional approach the North Indian musicians have to their ragas. The material on these DVDs has been in development since the late 1960s and since that time has been the subject of countless private studio tests with an assortment of invited guests. It has also been the subject of many hundreds of public performance field tests such as my concerts and my other presentations.

After the ragas are developed over time, often many years in the making, a performance process naturally comes into play. A particular performance process grows out of the nature of a particular raga. One of the protocompositional problems in working with the ragas is to discover their inherent voices in terms of tempo, inflections, rhythms, and overall shape. The final result of the process is an exercise in real-time composition, an exercise that relies on the principle of "tuning on the fly," that is making adjustments to compositional variables according to the needs of the moment.

The laser images with clearest definition and greatest stability are the result of stereo wavetrain fundamentals with whole number ratios. In other words, for maximum definition and stability the ratio of the frequency of the wavetrain on the x-axis to the frequency of the wavetrain on the y-axis might be 3:2 or 4:3 or 7:1 or some other whole number ratio. The slightest deviations from whole number ratios create movement in the laser image. The smaller the deviation the slower the movement. Performance is a type of real-time composed walking tour through various states of dynamic equilibrium found at the intersections of fundamentals with whole number ratios. The real-time compositional process can be thought of as a dance to, from, and around those intersections.

There are other design principles that come into play. For example, the more complex the ratios the more complex the images. Likewise, the more complex the waveforms the more complex the images. Often very small changes in wave variables result in very large changes in images especially at the intersections and as the fundamentals zero-in on as well as pass through the resonant frequencies of the galvanometers. The art of moving from one intersection to another and dancing around those intersections in terms of the fine tuning adjustments of frequency, amplitude, waveshape, and phase is what breathes life into the performance process. It is in this context that the meaning of dynamic equilibrium becomes clear. Perfect equilibrium would be perfectly boring because there would be no movement, no life to the sound and light forms. Dynamic equilibrium involves the dance to, from, and around the intersections of the whole number ratios.

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