Simin Li- Looking Outwards 4

Fantasy-Impromptu, by Frederic Chopin, accompanied by a graphical score by Stephen Malinowski

The animated graphical score project known as the Music Animation Machine was created by Stephen Malinowski in 1974 and is still an ongoing project. The composer and programmer was overwhelmed by reading the score of a Brandenburg concerto and wanted to display complex music in a way that listeners of all levels could easily follow. He decided to use animation to visualize musical pieces by writing a program on an Atari using BASIC. The result was a video that synchronized with music using movement, shape and color. He explains that the notes we hear most recently are most vivid and the notes we hear a while ago seem to fade away, so he uses solid shapes to represent present notes and hallow shapes to represent faded notes. He also uses different shapes for different types of instruments that interact together. In 2012, his software could generate animation in a live performance. He now uses frame-rendering software that inputs a MIDI file (software unknown). A music appreciation teacher has used his work to teach students to grasp convoluted pieces and the results have been significant. What I admire most about this project is that it conveys music visually through one program. The animation Malinowski makes reminds me of dance. The programming that he does is actually choreography: he pays attention to the position and movement of different elements while following a certain rhythm and theme. This makes me wonder whether a single algorithm can be used to generate dance and other visual art.


THE DAILY BEAST This Amazing Machine Lets You ‘Paint’ Mozart’s Music by Nick Romeo

Dazed and Confused, full interview with Stephen Malinowski

Stephen Malinowski and the Music Animation Machine

Stephen Malinowski on youtube

Check out his performance at TEDxZurich.

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