NotesArt Studio

translating music into visual art

Connecting music and art via mathematics
This artwork is created by a mathematical algorithm that converts an entire piece of music from its natural domain of time and frequency into a domain of space and color, relying on Fourier transforms, graph theory, sparse matrix methods, and force-directed graph visualization, to create visual music.

Each image you see is a translation of an entire song, not just a specific moment in the song.  A note in the music appears as a line in the image, where low tones are blue, middle tones are green, and higher tones are yellow, orange, and red.

The art in this process lies in two places. First, creating the algorithm is itself a creative, artistic process. The algorithm defines a vast landscape of different possible images of the same song. The second step of the artistic process is the way in which I traverse this vast landscape of possible images to find the one or several images I feel best represent the song.

At no point in the artistic process do I decide where to draw each note, one at a time. Instead, the placement of the notes is dictated by the set of simple algorithmic rules I created. For example, my algorithm does not have a step that says "put a mesh here."  Instead, mesh-like structures appear in some of the images because of the regular nature of the rhythms in the music.

Music to art via math ... For more on how this work fits in to music theory, see my comments on Metastaseis, by Xenakis.

Related news articles:

    Cleve's Corner: Music, Sparse Matrices, and London Billboards,

        by Cleve Moler, creator of MATLAB.

    Sparse Matrices and the London Electronic Music Science,

        SIAM blog.

    Renowned Professor of Computer Science Joining CSE Faculty

        Texas A&M press release.  Discusses both my professional work

        and my artistic side here at

    Art and Math Collide, Texas A&M University newsletter.​

    Seeing Sound, Texas A&M Battalion.

Translating music into visual art

NotesArt Studio


NotesArt Studio can create the art that's hidden in your music. Have you ever wondered what your favorite piece of music looks like? Or would you like to use some of these images that appear here? Contact us for more details.

About the Artist

In his day job, Tim Davis is a professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University, where he does research in mathematical algorithms for solving matrix problems. His work appears in many widely used applications in scientific computing. For example, MATLAB, by The MathWorks, uses his solvers for their matrix equations (x=A\b when A is sparse). Google uses his software to place every photo in StreetView in its proper position. Tim is a Fellow of three professional / academic societies: the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), and the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).  He serves as an Associate Editor for the SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing and for the ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software.

That's the serious stuff he does for work. For fun? You're looking at it! He also writes poetry.  One of his pieces, entitled Hiraeth, appears as the lyrics to a choral piece by Roger Ames, to be published by GIA Music.

Many of the works of music you can listen to on this site are by Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License.