Music for Oscilloscopes

Hello all.

I wanted to share an audiovisual art project that I’m quite excited about. A studio mate and I came up with a simple audiovisual concept for Lux Helsinki this year. It’s called Music for Oscilloscopes and comprises of OsciStudio, a small modular rig, an analogue oscilloscope, a web cam, MadMapper, and a video projector.

What happens is OsciStudio turns basic SVG shapes into sound that’s sent into the modular to be modulated. This is then sent to an oscilloscope as well as effected before sending to speakers. The oscilloscope is then shot with a web cam, to be color graded, projection mapped and beamed onto a surface by MadMapper.

We shot a shoddy first proof of concept of it at Lux but now, a couple of days ago we shot another one, with a bit better quality and, most of all, the original sound that creates the image (sweetened up with Mimeophon).

Please enjoy and discuss if you like what you see and hear.

We’re currently planning a live show or two in Helsinki around this concept and see where it takes us.

(I couldn’t find any threads about video synthesis, vector art, oscilloscope music or anything similar so I went ahead and made this into its own topic.)


Love both sound and graphic


I put some headphones on and lit a joint. I completely immersed myself in this and it was amazing. What a journey, thank you.


It’s almost shocking how effective this is.
Nicely done.
I also quite enjoy the degradation of the image quality in the video: makes it look like something that was made in the early decades of the 20th century.


Yea, it surprised me too how beaming a small image of moving light turns into this lights melting together aesthetic, almost film-like blur and graininess.


Thank you :pray:t2: Glad that I could offer a journey to someone.

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Nice one, I like the name :slight_smile:

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Thanks. A nod to Eno’s Music for Airports, a similarily purpose-driven album. Not saying ours is or will ever be anywhere close to its seminal status. Just felt fitting. We’re planning this to be a slowly evolving series of situated shows, if all goes well.

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Thank you, much appreciated. Let’s see where this journey takes us, both sound wise and visual wise.

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Way cool. I have done a lot of exploring with xy on an oscilloscope but nothing focused like this. It’s really cool. Could you elaborate on what your doing on the modular end? Thanks

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Thank you :black_heart:

So the modular serves two purposes:

  1. To take the two channels of SVG sound for modulation before sending them to the oscilloscope, and
  2. To monitor the SVG sound as the background audio of the whole thing.

In purpose 1 (modulation), I mix between four modulation paths:

  1. the burst output of Wogglebug with manual clock speed adjustments, creating some nice glitchy size changes and shape duplication,
  2. a jumpy ramp up from Zadar with manual speed adjustments, creating subtle blooming outward deviations from the line drawn,
  3. the All output of Three Sisters in formant mode, with manual adjustment of span and resonance, bringing it into oscillation, creating these almost filled thick parts because of audio rate sine wave oscillation, and
  4. the main output of ALM MCO, with manual adjustment of pitch and waveform, creating some beautiful types of wave multiplication around the SVG line.

In purpose 2 (monitoring), I mix between three audio sources with a Quadratt:

  1. the SVG sound, to give the main backdrop,
  2. the Centre output of Three Sisters, to give audible feedback for the filled parts, and
  3. the Sub output of the ALM MCO, to give audible feedback for the wavetable modulation,

And these three sent out through Mimeophon, manually playing with Repeats, Halo and Color along the way.

For next time I’m thinking of at least trying out adding some switches for switching between modulation sources as well as the DniPro Polymorph for more complex preset morphing. Maybe also exploring Just Friends in Sound mode as both a modulation and sound source.

Hope this opens our process up a bit!


Awesome. Thanks for the info. Very interested to see the music and shapes that come out of this.

This is excellent, and reminded me a bit of the work of Jerobeam Fenderson. Anyone interested in delving deeper themselves should perhaps look into the Soundemote plugins, which I believe are currently discounted.

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Yes, we’re very familiar with Fenderson’s work. He’s perhaps a bit more in the mathematical end of the spectrum of vector synthesis and oscilloscope music. But he sure does some cool stuff!

We kinda got inspired and kicked into this thing by Derek Holzer/Macumbista and his work, as well as a Vectrex he modded for us.

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Pretty sure it will be a very deep direction, keep up the excellent job and,please, post more often


Thanks! I assume so too. So far, all the times we’ve explored this concept, it has gone to pretty different directions.

Will keep you posted.


If I understand this correctly, what generates the sound is the SVG shapes themselves from OsciStudio. What would the result be like if you composed the music first, either at the stage before the modular? Could it also exist backwards, where composed music could be turned into SVG shapes?

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Hey, thanks for your questions!

Correct, the SVGs generates the initial sound, very much alike a pure oscillator wave. The more complex the shape, the more complex the timbre. The modular is simply applying complex modulation and wave folding to the initial signal, in addition to applying a delay to the half that goes out as sound.

Not sure if I understand your second question but yes, you could compose the music first, either as a curated sequence of SVG forms, or as a simple oscillator waveforms from, say, a modular. That would remove the need of Oscistudio generating SVGs.

There’s no way of turning the signal back into an SVG as far as I know. Interesting idea. It would simply display the sound on the XY scope. That would go into the direction of more traditional oscilloscope art.

From my point of view, the power and intrigue of this method comes from exposing very simple SVG forms as sound, then deconstructing and evolving those shapes into something else, all the time giving audible feedback of what’s happening.

Yeah I’m curious about how to turn the perhaps individual stems of a composed song into an SVG. It would be an interesting way to visualize a composition. “Traditional oscilloscope art” is a new term to me! I think you are right now that look into it. Maybe a crude way to describe it but your art is really more about the visual side first, and the sound secondary.

For me, the most kicks come out of the near synesthetic and very much inseparable relation of sound and image.