top of page


Abstract film and visual music are two forms of artwork that are an important part of Maura's art practice.  Sound and music are an essential part of the visual composition of the moving imagery. 

Watch a short excerpt of an abstract film visual music piece.  

Title of Work: Digital Alchemy
Visuals: Maura McDonnell
Music: Music Composition by Cobi van Tonder

Year: 2018

Maura McDonnell  - Digital Abstract Film  & Visual Music

Visual Music Expression 

Abstract Film and Visual Music

I have been creating abstract film art works since 1997, when I did my Masters in Music and Media Technology and I learned how to work with digital video and audio effects, computer programming and all kinds of digital art wizardry.  I went onto teach on this Masters Programme and I still teach on it over twenty years later.  I teach modules on Visual Music on the and supervise student thesis projects on visual music related fields and audiovisual composition. 

Visual Music Archive

Informal research is conducted in an archive that collects items of interest such as contemporary practice, writings and events related to the field of visual music, audio visual composition and related fields. I started this archive in 2005 
Visit my Visual Music Blog


The title of my PhD is: "Finding Visual Music in its Twentieth Century History" (2019)  It was completed at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland in 2019.  and it is can be previewed at the Trinity College Access to Research Archive.
Visit my PhD at TARA (Trinity Access to Research Archive)

My PhD Thesis Summary - Maura McDonnell

"Visual fine art and music are typically considered to be separate disciplines and separate art forms. This, however, is not the case for visual music. Visual music straddles both visual art and music. Visual music has come to prominence in both contemporary arts practice activity and research, but it evolved out of a series of historical developments by artists, theorists and commentators who explored forms of an integrated art of music and visual art through the invention, application and/ or use of science, theories of colour, technology, painting, cinema, video, music technology and early digital computers. This thesis examines visual music in its 20th century history, taking into consideration important precursors to visual music in the colour-tone analogies and experiments in natural science of the eighteenth century, the ensuing birth of the colour organ and colour music tradition of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and that continues on in the twentieth century to today, as one vein of visual music, in the real-time performance of colour, light and video in music performance works. The development of abstract art and absolute film of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also played a significant role in the evolution of visual music, so much so that certain trends within visual music today are not entirely understandable without reference to this particular historical period of art and film. Development in music in the twentieth century likewise had a major impact on the shape of the content of much visual music, not only in terms of atonal music compositions but also in the particular efforts in creating musique concrète (Pierre Schaeffer et al.), for the purpose of television broadcasting. In a very important yet much overlooked respect, this thesis argues that visual music concrète is one way in which many composers (including the author of this thesis) has generated visual music. The author has engaged in arts practice in the field of visual music and has contributed to the field since 1997. Her entry into visual music came from the perspective of music and music technology. The motivation for this research was to place the author s early visual music arts practice work in an art-historical context of the evolution of a visual music art in the twentieth century. The thesis has found that artworks described as visual music have two main characteristics that denotes its visual music status. The content of an art work can be a form of visible music in terms of the mathematical basis of vibratory phenomenon and its resultant visual patterns. Or, the visual music is a form of artistic expression that comprises an artist s desire to work with a relation between visual and music in the gathering together of the means, forms, conceptions of both visual art and music and related technologies and creating art works. The research relates some exciting discoveries, such as the experimental television work of the musique concrète composers and the television studios in France in the 1960s and their collaborative films and the innovative data approaches to a shared expression of visual and music in the Global Visual Music Project at the end of the twentieth century."
Source: PhD Thesis -  Maura McDonnell (2019/2020)


Teaching Visual Music

A visual music artwork is incredibly exciting to make as its designed and crafted to emulate music expression. I also continue to research on the field of visual music and lecture a course on visual music to students attending  the M.Phil in Music and Media Technologies at Trinity College, Dublin and I  have been very proud and honoured to see so many talented people engage both with music and with visual music and audiovisual art and to continue to find their own forms of artistic expression and creative use of technology.
Visit my Academic Page at Trinity College Dublin

Visual Music 1 Module
Visual Music 2 Module

Visit the M.Phil in Music and Media Technologies at Trinity College Dublin website

bottom of page