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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathAudiovisions
Audiovisions. Music as an Intermedia Art Form.
Golo Föllmer, Julia Gerlach


Music is what it is to us through media. Their influence can be major or minor, obvious or subtle. However, with the same astuteness with which Niklas Luhmann makes the meaning of mass media absolute for cognition of the world, [1] for all that is acoustic one can say that mass media make it what it is— and with increasing intensity: With the expansion of electronic media into ever more central positions in everyday and cultural life, music is becoming more heavily influenced by media phenomena, it makes more frequent use of media technologies for its conception and production, and it increasingly reflects the functioning and the effects of media.

Mediality and Intermediality

Even the earliest media that were important for music were not exclusively acoustic media: any of the musical instruments; singing and instrumental techniques that accompanied dances or other ritual or social activities; written and graphic notation; the printing and publishing industries; conventions of musical performance in various epochs—all of these media and dispositives articulate themselves and are handed down


not only through sound, but to a large extent also by way of narrative/text-based representations; they are conveyed via the senses of touch, smell, and taste, but in particular through their visual manifestation. As soon as music is regarded not only as an acoustic stimulus structure, but within the context of its genesis and effect, in many ways it at the same time becomes intermedial.

This essay examines music for its ‹natural,› visible components, for the visual representations with which it conveys and hands down, as well as for the complex interrelations it enters into with images in everyday media products and in the experimental field of the arts.

Notation and Visuality of the Musical Performance

Non-acoustic media are essential for music. Written notation, for instance, produced an enhancement of the current as well as the historical musical memory, without which neither the conception nor the performance of complex polyphony would have been possible. The publishing industry created a new basis for life for nineteenth-century composers, who with

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