Music Visualization: Beautiful Tools to ‘See’ Sound

Posted: July 26th, 2010 | Author: Manuel Lima | Filed under: Uncategorized | 14 Comments »

This is an original guest post by Ricardo Nuno Silva for VC Blog. Ricardo is a Portuguese applications developer with a longtime curiosity concerning the impact of digital technologies in everyday life. You can contact him at


In the last few years many tools and techniques have been developed to help us visualize songs, music and sounds. This post is a showcase of some of these greatest tools. Each one is focused on a particular aspect of this challenging type of visualization.

One of the most common examples of software for sound visualization is the one used in media players. But they usually only translate sound frequencies to shapes and colors on the screen. They’ve been used extensively for leisure, relaxation and dance parties.

The tools in this showcase have a different approach, as they truly “understand” music in its individual notes. Some can be used in real time, while others need to do some number-crunching while analyzing each song.

Below each image there’s the name of the tool or technique, some great video examples, and a link to the author’s site.

If you know other great tools or videos of music visualization, please leave a comment below or via email. Thank you!


Static Visualization of Songs

The Shape of Song by Martin Wattenberg

Narratives 2.0 by Matthias Dittrich


Similar to Sheet Music

Don’t Be Sad by Brad Mehldau

MIDI Music Visualization Videos for Deaf and Hearing Impaired People by Eric Rangell.

Music Animation Machine (MAM) by Stephen Malinowski. See: Beethoven 5th Symphony.


Visualization of Instruments Output

Clavilux 2000 by Jonas Heuer.

Celeste Motus by the Abstract Birds. (via Pedro Custódio)

MuSA.RT - Music on the Spiral Array. Real-Time by Elaine Chew e Alex François.



TypeStar by Scott Garner.


Learning Games through Visualization

Synthesia (for piano) by Nicholas Piegdon.


Animating Virtual Instruments

MIDIJam by Scott Haag. See: MidiJam (I just died in your arms).

Pipe Dream by Animusic. See also: MIDIJam meets Animusic: Pipe Dream


Abstract Visualizations

Ljósið by Ólafur Arnalds

Just Colour by Jesper Brevik


See other music-related visualizations @ | Music.