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Die Geburt der Musikvisualisierung (1924)

It was during his boyhood in Denmark that the inventor began experimenting with light, making rainbows on the walls with prisms pilfered from the chandelier. Later he learned to project light forms from a cigar box; and finally the finished product of his boyish experiments appeared in the steel instrument on which he now performs.

The clavilux has three manuals and a triple light chamber, corresponding respectively to the keyboard and wind chest of the pipe organ. Disk keys appear on the manual, moving to and from the operator and playing color and form almost as the pipe organ plays sound.

There are 100 positions for each key, making possible almost infinite combinations of color and form. The “music,” or notation, is printed in figures upon a five-lined staff, three staves joined, as treble and bass clefs are joined for piano, to provide a “clef” for each of the three manuals. A color chord is represented by three figures as, for example, “40-35-60″; and movement of the prescribed keys to the designated positions on the numbered scale of the keyboard produces the desired figure.

(via modern mechanix)