Some words about audiovisuals and stuff
While I was in college back in 2010, I attended an event put on by Robert Henke, one of the developers of Ableton Live, and Tarik Barri, creator of the powerful Versum audiovisual cell phone tracker and spy software composition software, to view their collaborative piece called Monolake. The exhibition (or I guess you could call it a concert) involved spacial sound design (think surround sound audio) paired with visual representation of the soundscape Henke created, projected on all sides of the studio we were in. The environment created made it feel as if one was drifting through an environment governed by school writing paper sound. I had seen visualizers before, but it definitely did make me recognize and admire the almost jazz-like freeform factor of audio visualization in live concert.
While you definitely can’t play with your visuals as fast and loose as Coltrane on a trumpet, it does allow for considerable improvisation, making each experience unique and content writers different from the next. Most large concerts rely on lights and interesting visuals that have for the most part been pre-rendered (Deadmau5 comes to mind), but no one I’ve seen (aside from Robert Henke) is touring or has toured with someone who visualizes their audio on-the-fly (feel free to point some out, though!). I feel like a lot of people think the buck stops at programs like XBMC or iTunes, where you can “visualize” your music library, but it’s actually fairly easy to stream audio or MIDI into
a visualizer using the right programs or language.
The first visualizers were made for DOS, so the idea is neither new nor difficult on early PCs, but these basic visualizers like MilkDrop or Cthugha didn’t allow for the human element or entropy that made the visualization of music as orchestrated as it was in Monolake. More recently artists have been using programs like MaxMSP with Processing and Ableton (Which are the tools Barri and Henke incorporated) to produce both
sound and audio together, and other end of the spectrum you have guys like Dr. Bleep creating hardware dedicated to audiovisual synthesis. Seeing it in everyday concerts, though? I still believe it’s a ways off from being labeled anything other than “experimental”.