neat :)

So I’m flipping channels, and I see that some local station is carrying Classic Arts Showcase. I was first introduced Classic Arts Showcase programming back in Bradenton, where the local educational access station (metv, which shared studio facilities with the schoolboard office where I worked) used to air it at nights – still do, in fact. They show all sorts of different stuff from opera to balet to small jazz combos to abstract light projections on water fountains, set to classical music.

“Ah, Classic Arts Showcase”, I said, and switched to its channel. I heard the Hungarian Rhapsody #2 by Franz Liszt, and I saw a scrolling bargraph of the music, sorta like a player piano, that was scrolling from left to right as the music played. Pitch is on the vertical axis, and time on the horizontal.

This particular piece is a solo piano performance, so there is a limited number of notes that can be occuring simultaneously. It was fascinating to see music represented visually like this – it even uses color to help denote harmony and disonance (blue is arbitrarily chosen as the tonic, then colors are picked from around a color wheel according to the circle of fifths, which is a central idea of music theory… if you’re not familiar with it, this site does a fair job of explaning it).

This “music animation machine” is really good at demonstrating visually some of the basic charasterics of music… especially interesting was examining really fast chromatic runs or the consistancy of the duration of very short notes in a rapid sequence (since none of the visuals are quanitized in any way, you can definitely see nuance very clearly).

Anyway, interesting stuff… it’s moments like these that I’m most pleased with television. Check out the Music Animation machine, and be sure to give the site a thorough reading, including the various links from the site index page. There is a quicktime movie of the music animation machine in action here.

In other news, everything rocks :) Saw Blade II last night… not sure what tonight will bring just yet :)

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