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Cincinnati Student Helps The Deaf Visualize Music

Aaron Ziegler, who plays the piano, invented a computer program to help the deaf and hearing impaired to better connect with music.
Aaron Ziegler, who plays the piano, invented a computer program to help the deaf and hearing impaired to better connect with music.

People who are deaf and hearing impaired will soon be able to experience some of the emotion that the hearing public can when listening to music. A Cincinnati student is perfecting the experience with an invention he intends to make free and web-based.

Aaron Ziegler, a senior at The Seven Hills School, has been working on the Chromatic Music Visualizer for a couple of years now and is currently getting feedback from music educators and the deaf community.

"It's able to take the musical input of any song and it reads the value of that music and can convert those values into a visual display that has an intuitive connection between music," he says.

Ziegler programmed the software to associate chord values with different colors. "It's basically able to show them all the emotions in the music in real time such that they are able to appreciate music with family and friends."

Here's one example with giraffes and a monkey moving to the music while the screen colors change.


The idea of color and emotions is not new. It has a name, synesthesia, and Russian composer Alexander Scriabin believed in it, associating colors to feelings and emotions.

Ziegler is collaborating with a music composer who works with the deaf. Nancy Kopman demonstrates the technology in this video.


Ziegler was inspired to invent the music visualizer after volunteering at a summer camp for people living with special needs and saw how music helped them. He recently won the Technology Award at Ohio Invention League's  Invention Convention. He now competes at the national level.

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With more than 30 years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market, Ann Thompson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology.