The Musical Beauty of Paper: celebrating the work of Oskar Fischinger, the ‘father of visual music’

“Music is not limited to the world of sound. There exists a music of the visual world.”

~ Oskar Fischinger

Is there no end to the versatility of paper in the pursuit of creative endeavour?  I am indebted to Gallivanta for sending me a link to this incredible, ground-breaking film called ‘Optical Poem, made in 1937/8 by Oskar Fischinger.

As the film explains, ‘Fischinger manipulated hundreds of paper cutouts hung on invisible wires and shot a frame at a time in close synchronization with Liszt’s [Hungarian] rhapsody’.  One can only guess at how long this must have taken.

This is highly reminiscent of the Disney film Fantasia.  Interestingly, Fischinger was originally part of the design team for that project, but he quit without credit because Walt Disney changed his original submissions.  It was thought they were too abstract and Disney wanted material that was more representational.

Nevertheless, Fischinger is sometimes referred to as the father of visual music.  When we compare his work with that of modern artists who paint pictures with sound you can certainly see why.  Check out this post, for example, which I wrote for my other blog LeapingTracks some time ago.  What a coincidence that this post featured a visual rendition of Listz’s Hungarian Rhapsody so that we might now compare the two.  There are similarities, of course.  But they are also miles apart in terms of production methods.

We have just recently passed the date of Fischinger’s 117th birthday.  To celebrate, Google Doodles have produced an amazing interactive music-maker, which allows the user to re-create the essence of Fischinger’s films.  You can find it here – I defy you not to get immediately addicted.  I’m sure Fischinger would be amazed and delighted if he could see the ease with which we can today produce the type of work he painstakingly put together nearly 100 years ago. 🙂

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13 thoughts on “The Musical Beauty of Paper: celebrating the work of Oskar Fischinger, the ‘father of visual music’

  1. That is really impressive, I can imagine how long that has taken, to film, to such great music. Brilliantly done, just with shapes and music really!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know – so simple and yet so amazing!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What a cool video. Oh but what patience it must have taken to make!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t imagine having the discipline and patience to create this kind of work, but am happy to admire the fruits of others’ labours! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. He must have had such patience to make that film! I was also pleased to re-visit your post on Leaping Tracks. I hope you are well, Liz xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Clare – so kind of you to ask after me. I’ve had a slightly bumpy few weeks, but am fine at the moment. Hope you & the family are doing ok too xxx

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am sorry that you haven’t been too well 😦 We are fine but soooo busy! I keep hoping to write a post after attempting to catch up with reading posts and commenting but I keep falling asleep! xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Lol – I know that feeling!!! Xxx

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  4. That film is amazing–I feel like I’m watching planets and stars and galaxies! I hated seeing that you’ve having bumpiness in your life–I hope things are better now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Kerry – you are very kind. Yes life is grand at the moment. Hope all well with you and yours too X

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  5. The patience of the man is impressive enough, what a really awesome thing to create. Mixing up different art forms is always fascinating and unique. I think I prefer this over Fantasia too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Just imagine thinking to oneself “I know, I’ll cut up bits of paper and film them in different combinations – a nice weekend project” lol!

      Liked by 1 person

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