Many (most?) readers of Tango Musicology do not read music. For musicians a score comes to life by looking at it. We “hear” it. But for non-music readers, music is just a mess of incomprehensible black symbols. From time to time I ponder how to make the music come alive on screen – some other way of visualizing music, capturing pitch and rhythm with a sense of moving through time.
Ideally a visualization would incorporate sound, something like the music/audio syncs I do, but rather than a score there would be a real time visual representation of melody, rhythm, dynamics, etc. That has been brilliantly done for many classical music compositions by Stephen Malinowski.
I first saw Malinowski’s “Music Animations”, as he calls them, several years ago, when they were still quite basic. Now they are absolutely stunning. More importantly than looks, they capture many of the musical elements I write about, including: melody, its pitch direction, note duration, and rhythm; texture, a mass of lines and colours visually represents a “large” sound and vice versa; dynamics, brighter colours mean louder notes. His visualizations contain much more than those few aspects. In fact they show us everything happening in the music, in real time.
The first part of Igor Stravinsky’s 1913 “The Rite of Spring” ballet:
Alas, not possible for music without a full score. That rules out tango and almost all non-classical music. It is possible for someone with the skills to accurately transcribe a recording into notes. But then what – Malinowski’s software isn’t available for purchase.
(Update: I used the 2006 freeware version of the animation software Malinowski makes available and created a very basic visualization of the piano sheet music for Milonga de mis amores)
I’ll continue pondering…