Visual music

Stephen Malinowski is a polymath composer/musician/programmer who created something called the Music Animation Machine. What it does is animate music scores in a way that makes their rhythmic and tonal structures really jump out at you.

For example, here is a Chopin Etude (opus 10, #7)

Having warmed up with that, you’ll have fun watching Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto Nr. 4, third movement, presto. Fugues are fun to watch, since the visual patterns help you follow the repeating elements in the music. Here is a piece by Vincent Lo that builds a Bach-style fugue from Nokia’s default ringtone: the Nokia Ringtone Fugue. When they perform that one, do you think they encourage people to turn on their cellphones?

Malinowski has a YouTube channel with several other videos. Of course, since he spent years making this thing, he’d really like to sell you a video about it. It looks like a good deal to me, but the store page is really notable for the shockingly different musical constructions you see from different composers. Go look at it now. It’s mesmerizing. Compare Bach’s braided filigrees with Chopin’s slabs and slashes.

Thanks to YouTube, we all have synesthesia.

4 thoughts on “Visual music”

  1. Now that I know what Shirley Temple looks like in color, why shouldn’t I see Chopin in color too? Call it Chopin-O-Vision.

    Related question: if Ted Turner can add color where it never existed, can he do the same thing with story? I can think of a few Adam Sandler films that would benefit.

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