I thought once of abandoning my usual practice of accompanying musical compositions with visual imagery when I post them online. The predominant theory on this forum seems to be that “absolute” music is no better than “programmatic music,” that is, music attached to some kind of story, series of images or sensuous input.
I have revised this work presented once before, and this time collated a series of thematically linked images to enhance or highlight certain musical elements. I suppose in most cases, “programmatic music” is composed with some kind of story, drama, or definable scene ALREADY IN MIND. That’s always the case with tone poems, ballets and operas, of course.
I almost never compose that way, though I do often contemplate what images, mythical archetypes, ideas or story fragments MIGHT conceivably accompany music AFTER I write it. One can see (and hear) a specific result in this audio-video:
Trigrammic Prognostications for Trombones, Strings and Wind Instruments
My question for the forum, is not simply about the music or sounds themselves. It’s a question about the so-called “Gesamtkunstwerk,” or the idea that various arts should work together in order to have a greater impact. This view was foreshadowed in stage presentations by Gluck, and later, Wagner tried to work out the theory to guide him while he composed his greatest operas. In more modern times, a collaboration between Le Corbusier, Iannis Xenakis and Edgard Varese produced a sort of Gesamtkunstwerk, which is described in a short documentary, here:
Architecture, photography, painting and music were combined to create the Poem Electronique. For a rough approximation of that work, as it might have looked like, you can view:
So my question is this:
Is it wise (or even theoretically almost necessary today) to enhance a musical presentation with accompanying photography, paintings, or architectural surroundings?
In the case of the work I am posting here, “Trigrammic Prognostications,” I am asking: do the visual images actually improve, highlight, or positively accentuate aspects of the music, to create an improved aesthetic experience, that one might not have without the images?
Or is it the case that the music, in and of itself, best stands alone and apart from any externally attached sensuous input?
I am wondering now, when I produce music, if I should make two versions, (1) a video with imagery, and (2) a second video with a blank screen, or simply on a site like soundcloud or picosong, where there is really not much visually to “distract.”
Then there is the additional question of whether to post (3) a version of the work with accompanying moving visual scores, and / or “piano rolls,” using camtasia or other similar software. Abstract accompaniments, that provide the content of the piece in some notated form, are often useful and interesting, but mostly only to other musicians and composers (whereas real visual images, in the form of photos of natural scenes, of other artworks—paintings, architecture, sculpture—or geometric patterns, are often more appealing to the non specialist).
It’s a relatively important question, in a world where multi-media are so easily accessed and attached to any kind of production. Yet I don’t know that the issue has been discussed very much here, or at least as much as I would like to see it discussed.