Drawing from ethnographic, empirical, and historical / cultural perspectives, we examine the extent to which visual aspects of music contribute to the communication that takes place between performers and their listeners. First, we introduce a framework for understanding how media and genres shape aural and visual experiences of music. Second, we present case studies of two performances, and describe the relation between visual and aural aspects of performance. Third, we report empirical evidence that visual aspects of performance reliably influence perceptions of musical structure (pitch related features) and affective interpretations of music. Finally, we trace new and old media trajectories of aural and visual dimensions of music, and highlight how our conceptions, perceptions and appreciation of music are intertwined with technological innovation and media deployment strategies.