Professor Tim Howle – Inaugural Lecture

Friday 22 March, Grimond Lecture Theatre 1, 6pm

‘Seeing Sounds and Hearing Images – Composing with Audiovisual Materials’


This lecture will examine the nature of new compositional ideas that are formed when sonic art is combined with video art.

At a recent competition for composers of sonic art, two thirds of the submissions were audiovisual. The jury ranked the purely musical pieces whereas the AV works were problematic in terms of criteria and were left on one side. The language of electroacoustic music is understood; the language of audiovisual music is another matter.

Given that the number of audiovisual outputs is increasing it is interesting that the underpinning theoretical and historical aspects lag behind. There are some obvious connections: graphic scores are pictorial; there is a hybridization of technologies (superficially the software used for audio editing looks the same as that used for video – suggesting a similar paradigm.) The materials can be manipulated in parallel; they can be treated as if they are part of the same phrase.

What is clear is that there is a form of counterpoint taking place between the modalities, pointing towards relationships that go much further than those offered by more traditional ‘film sound’ approaches. Counterpoint is more equitable. It suggests the possibility of audiovisual objects that function like chords pointing towards the potential for consonance and dissonance.