Feb 19th 2009 Ocular Music


Ocular music screen capture

Ocular music screen capture

We address the problem of visualizing microtuned scales and chords in such a way that each representation is unique and therefore distinguishable.

By using colors to represent the different pitches, we aim to capture aspects of the musical scale impossible to represent with numerical ratios. Inspired by the neurological phenomenon known as synæsthesia, we built a system capable of reproduce microtuned MIDI sequences aurally and visually. This system can be related to Castel’s historic idea of the ‘Ocular Harpsichord.’ We propose to use the inherent relationship between audible frequency and visible frequencies to produce the “emissive spectrum” of each scale. Every note in a chord activates a specific wavelength and their combination produces a unique color in each tuning system.

This software is intended to illustrate the differences between musical scales. Spectrogram and sonogram are more useful to illustrate differences between sounds.

overview of the system

overview of the system


  • Only twelve tone scales can be played with some exceptions
  • Only plays MIDI files
  • Three visualizations available.
  • The tonic of the scale is associated with the lowest visible frequency
    ( approx. 394 THz)
    The velocity of the notes affects the lightness and the transparency.
  • The correct auralization of the scale is done via a Roland SoundCanvas SK-88 Pro. This synthesizer has a ‘Scale Tune Feature,’ a System Exclusive message that changes each note’s pitch up to ±64 cents. This adjustment affects all the notes in the synthesizer regardless of octave, and this limitation is the reason for using only twelve tone scales in our application.

For a more complete description please read our paper presented at IEEE-CIT 2007.


  • (SHIFT +) PAGE UP: Zooms in (Slowly)
  • (SHIFT +) PAGE DOWN: Zoom out (Slowly)



The author, of this software accepts no responsibility for damages resulting from the use of this product and makes no warranty or representation, either express or implied, including but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose. This software is provided “AS IS”, and you, its user, assume all risks when using it. This software is freeware, but it is not public domain, if you find it useful, please let me know.


Created by julovi

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