Works from the Past

My next task was trying to find a way to visualize this song. Brian suggested to do some research on the different ways music was visualized in the past. Jan was a great source of information for this. He pointed me to a few helpful websites to do this research. I found many interesting methods that have been used in the past. Some of them are the following:

  • The Color Organ which is an electronic device that responds to its music input with light shows.
  • The Harmonograph which is a drawing device that uses the harmonic motion of pendulums to draw visual patterns.
  • Fractal Flames which are algorithmically generated images and animations.
  • The Electric Collage which is visualization of music by combining movies, slides, abstract color and shapes into one "Electric Collage" of images that flow with the music.
  • Music Animation Machine (MAM) which is a tool to visualize music to help understand music intuitively.

Color Organ

Color Organ

Harmonograph image

Harmonograph Output

Fractal Flame Fractal Flame

Fractal Flames

Electric Collage

Electric Collage, Atlanta Pop Festival


Music Animation Machine

Music Animation Machine was created by Stephen Malinowski. It is a great tool because it allows the listeners to see that music has structure and logic without the need to know any of the symbols of conventional music notation. Even though it is easy to understand it still contains much of the information of a conventional score. It is so simple that it can be understood intuitively by anyone, even small children, just by watching and listening. The following movie is an example of MAM.

This is how it works. Each note is represented by a colored bar. The bars scroll across the screen from right to left as the piece plays, and each bar lights up as its note sounds. The length of each bar corresponds exactly to the duration of its note as performed. The vertical position of the bar corresponds to the pitch. The horizontal position indicates the note's timing in relation to the other notes.

MAM diagram

I found that MAM is very close to what I need to accomplish with my project. I am trying to figure out how to apply MAMís way of representing music to my project. I am hoping to develop an animation with a defined set of rules that are easy to understand.