Oskar Fischinger: Master of Visual Music


Oskar Fischinger is a German animator and painter, who was born in the year 1900.

He created animations that played with the idea of visualizing music, either by the use of colour or motion. Throughout his life he would make 50 of them.

Take a look at this piece from 1938 called An Optical Poem, produced by MGM:


However it gets a lot better than this. See there is this thing called the Color Organ, which is a concept that goes back to the 1500s. The Color Organ is an attempt to visualize the notes of the chromatic scale using, as you guessed, colours.

In the 1940s, Oskar tried his hand at this by designing the Lumigraph. However it is not necessarily a color organ, as it took two people to operate - one for the keyboard and one for the screen.

Near the end of his life it was licensed for use in the movie The Time Travelers in 1964. This is how they pictured music would be played in the year 2071!


Well not all is forgotten in this rich history of experimental sound and light, as we are working on the Blinker project which will soon add support for making your own Color Organ at home.

In 2017 Google paid a tribute to the artist with their Google Doodle to celebrate his 117th birthday:

You can buy a DVD of Oskar’s work from the Center for Visual Music.

And he also wrote a book called Experiments in Cinematic Abstraction



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