An Interview: Nigel Stanford on CYMATICS: Science vs Music
Nigel Stanford’s video CYMATICS: Science vs Music beautifully showcases cymatics – the science of visualising audio frequencies. Directed by Shahir Duad, each instrumental element of the carefully building song is represented by a repeating scientific visual. On top of the spectacular imagery, Nigel has created a catchy song that serves the dual purpose of using a set combination of notes (based on the experiments) while cohesively developing a cool soundscape for the audience. We caught up with Nigel to ask him a few questions about his inspiration, thoughts on video virality and next moves.
Q: Right now you are based in NY but you are from New Zealand. Can you tell me a little bit about your journey to NY and what your current aspirations are?
A: I’ve lived in both countries since 2008. I’m just wanting to keep making music and videos while there are people who want to hear them.
Q: In an interview Shahir Duad mentioned that you didn’t have a song written for the video yet. What was the process like for you to write a song based on the necessity of combining certain notes? Did you find that certain visual frequencies ended up aligning?
A: I had a basic structure before we started shooting, but didn’t know exactly what the song would end up like. Mainly it was a case of making sounds that matched the footage. For instance, something that sounds electric.
Q: Could you tell me the name of the documentary that inspired this song? Was there a certain part that intrigued you?
A: I don’t remember, it was 15 years ago! But it was fascinating to see someone who saw colors when they heard sounds.*
Q: Do you have a scientific background or was this self-taught?
A: Self taught, there wasn’t anything particular difficult though apart from building the ruben’s tube.
Q: Did you consider the viral nature of this type of video when you were creating it? Much of social media is about the “contagious content” aspect. What are your thoughts on the nature of social media for musicians?
A: I thought that the video had a good chance of going viral. All of the experiments had been done before, and a most of them had over a million views without any music. But it has been much bigger than I had planned for.
Q: Do you have any more videos planned for the future?
A: Yes, I am making a new video right now, consisting of robots playing the music.
*Note: We tried to find the documentary Nigel was referring to but instead went down the rabbit hole for “Synesthesia” in reference to musicians. “They hear a certain timbre or musical note and see a color, or smell a perfume and hear a sound, or see a word and taste a flavor. ” – Head over to Pitchfork to find out more