Music Lights

About the project

The Music Lights project is a system for visualising audio in a way that, hopefully, gives you a greater appreciation for how complex and layered your music really is.

The project began as a small programming exercise originally born out of my desire to learn more about digital filters and to build an application for them in the real world. As I worked on the system sporadically in my free time, it started to evolve into a project worthy of a write-up and, in the end, I learned quite a lot about music theory, Fourier transformations, and digital filters. It was inspired by art installations such as Project Blinkenlights and this Heathrow Airport installation demoed by Mike Harrison. I liked the idea of a piece of electronic art that could transmute information from one of our senses to another.

Music Lights aims to represent the frequency content of your music in hues of red, green and blue light; the music's intensity therein is represented by the intensities of these colours. The overall effect is to help you leverage another of your senses, the more acute sense of sight, to enjoy your audio library.

This report outlines some of the theory behind the project in the fields of signal processing, and pure mathematics. It is published in parts as I write them, so follow along or jump to a part you find interesting!

Theory