Trygve Nielsen

Thinking About Music Through Moving Visuals

Volda University College, Institute of Film and Animation / NTNU, Department of Art and Media Studies

Two water currents meet, one from above with high amplitude and low frequency, one from the left with lower amplitude and higher frequency. Together they form a polyphonic figure.

Learning about musical concepts or how to play an instrument does to an increasing degree take place through audio visual media. How can the artistic tradition of visual music benefit this communication? This is an artistic research project that produce works that suggest potentials and directions in this development, while also criticising or commenting on it. The project has its base in the field of visual music film, traditionally understood as films that produces shapes, colours and movement analogue to musical form. The output will consist mainly of short, animated films. While mostly focusing on the didactic potential of visual music the project does necessarily also engage in core questions of the field: is there a universal language of art, is there a unifying structure of aesthetics and meaning under the surface of music and visual art and is this structure derived from nature or from the human brain?


Trygve Nielsen is a PhD-student in filmmaking who is specially interested in the connections between drawing, animation and music. He has made independent short films, commissioned films, illustrations, made music for film and theater, along with being part time employed at Volda University College where he the last years have been responsible for the animation program.

Trygve Nielsen er ein PhD-student og filmskapar som er spesielt interessert i samanhengane mellom teikning, animasjon og musikk. Han har laga uavhengige kortfilmar, oppdragsfilm, illustrasjonar, laga musikk for film og teater, ved sidan av å vere deltidstilsett ved Høgskulen i Volda kor han dei siste åra har vore ansvarleg for anmisjonsutdanninga.



Artistic Research Forum

POLYPHONIC VISUALS – rhythmic permutation of animation sequences inspired by minimalist composing techniques

Film does like music consist of events along a timeline that create rhythms. It does also have a relative sense of harmony between the events on that timeline – horizontal harmony, and between the simultaneous events – vertical harmony. Indeed, several film makers have made works that are very closely modelled on templates for composing polyphonic music, e.g Viking Eggeling’s fugue structured Symphonie Diagonale (1924) and Norman McLaren’s Canon (1964).


In this presentation I will show how I have re-structured animation sequences modelled on different polyphonic techniques, e.g western counterpoint, North-Indian and Afro-Cuban rhythm patterns. The focus will be on a case study where a 5 second loop of abstract animation is permuted in orders inspired by the minimalist composers Arvo Pärt and Steve Reich. While working on this animation I have also made music, and I will demonstrate the process where music has been adapted to animation, then the animation to the music, and so on.