What is the DemoScene and Why Does it Matter to Us?


A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece called “Divided by Distance, United by Passions” which highlighted our team at Light the Music working from distance in beautiful locations with people from around the world who have common passions. I mentioned one of our great developers, Dr. Aure Prochazka and his powerful tool audiokit. We also have another developer in Frankfurt, Germany named Boris Triebel who have been really excited about working with. Boris is a veteran of the gaming industry, having built a few companies along the way. Boris brings to the table a potent combination of experience, skill, curiosity, problem solving and the ability to ask great questions. As we were getting to know Boris, he mentioned that he had been involved in the demoscene many years ago. I had heard of the demoscene from researching a few DJs I was interested in, but didn’t go very deep. After meeting and working with Boris, I asked myself, “what is the demo scene?” and did some research.

It’s amazing what kinds of boats I have missed in life that come back around and then feel like Christmas when I actually get on board!  Discovering the demoscene is a bit like this metaphor for me.

The demoscene, roughly put, centers around using specific hardware and software to make visual sequences with music. It was originally centered in Europe. The wiki definition: “The demoscene is an international computer art subculture that specializes in producing demos: small, self-contained computer programs that produce audio-visual presentations. The main goal of a demo is to show off programming, artistic, and musical skills.”

Obviously the artform has evolved with technology over the years and in my research I have stumbled on some incredible digital art with music, which is an essential part of what we are doing at Light the Music. I have found a few inspiring examples amongst numerous to choose from. There are also a variety websites dedicated to the demoscene to peruse as well.

Discovering this movement has been amazing on a variety of levels, and it led me to think of a list of the common attributes between what we are doing and what the demoscene is about:

  • The Demoscene is all about hardware/software constraints: Awards in the demoscene are given based on the types of technology used. Parameters define the form, and we are certainly working with technology constraints in our app.
  • The marriage of music, visuals and code: The best pieces in the demoscene are a beautiful marriage of visual skill, great music and proficient code. This is the nexus in which we are attempting to operate at Light the Music.
  • The Demoscene mostly deals in abstraction: The pieces in the demoscene are mostly abstract and done for the sake of beauty, not a linear story line or a commercial purpose. One major thing we are loving about our app is the ability for users to have an abstract and pleasing visual-music experience.
  • Peer Acceptance is a valuable currency: The international demoscene functions in the underground and is mostly non-commercial. Getting propers from your peers is the main currency.  Whereas we are a commercial company, our team is highly motivated to make a beautiful product that we can all be proud of showing our colleagues across a variety of fields. It’s all about “the nod”…

I could continue on about the commonalities between what we are trying to do at Light the Music and the demoscene, but I will keep it short and sweet for now. As we continue to evolve along our path, it is fantastic when curiosity and conversation can open doors to fresh worlds that invite threads of common ground in new communities!

I also want to credit the image at the top of this blog to the great demo done by The Not Yet Rusty Collective entitled “Watercolour Space

Thanks and Peas:

Craig, COO and Nuevo Demoscene Lover

Craig Honeycutt