When you’re a scientist, visualizing data can be crucial to understanding and communication. Graphs are almost always better than data tables and a smartly-drawn diagram can often convey more than a long, detailed paragraph.
I was thinking about this today because of a YouTube link a friend sent me that had a visualization of the famous Beethoven bagatelle, Für Elise. It’s an interesting task, to try and visualize music. Pictures and words on a page endure, whereas something heard is transitory. Think about music. The sounds are heard and then gone. All the connections of sound and rhythm are made from our ears to our brains. You can listen with your eyes closed. Vision doesn’t really play a role.
Of course, the standard way to visibly present music is through sheet music. The marks on the staves instruct what notes are struck, their duration, and with how much force – all in a linear fashion. If you’re a good sight-reader (I’m not, but getting better), you can “hear” the music in your head as you read it. Here is the first page of the sheet music of Für Elise.
Here is the visualization that I was sent (it’s done by Andy Fillebrown)
The left hand is in blue, the right hand in pink. The notes of several octaves are arced around the center. I love the way the notes to be played stream towards the “piano” and then continue steaming on. I also love the way that you can see the “flow” of the music more than you can (well, more than I can at least) on the sheet music. Very cool. I can actually play this whole piece pretty well, though in the “B” section my 32nds are a lot more like 16ths.
Here are a couple of others.
The first movement of Sonata No. 14 (commonly known as “Moonlight”), which I can fairly reasonably.
And its third movement, which I most certainly cannot.
I really like the way the visualization shows the long chords in the left hand, especially as contrasted to a rapidly moving right.
Really fun. Could watch this all day, though it makes me want to play.