Music Animation Machine

By Stephen Malinowski

 


Introduction

Viewing QuickTime movies

Stephen Malinowski Fugue

Troubleshooting

 

Author's biography

Author's website

Download page


A score for listeners of all ages

Conventional music notation evolved to serve the needs of composers, performers, and conductors. By contrast, Music Animation Machine is a musical score for listeners.

Music Animation Machine (MAM) is an animated visual display that represents a musical performance. The display is synchronized with the sounds of the piece it represents. Instead of the symbols of conventional music notation, a MAM score uses colored bars to represent the notes of a piece. The vertical placement of each bar indicates the pitch of its note, the horizontal placement indicates its timing relative to the other notes of the piece, and the length of the bar shows its duration. These bars scroll across the screen as the piece plays; when a bar reaches the center of the screen, it brightens as its corresponding note sounds. The center of the screen is always the now point.

A MAM score is like a conventional musical score in that it gives information about the pitch and timing of the notes of a piece. As in conventional notation, musical events at different points in the piece can be seen at once, allowing recognition of and comparison between patterns. Unlike a conventional score, the MAM uses a single pitch space. In conventional notation, different instruments are distinguished by placing the notes for each instrument on its own staff. This makes it difficult to see the relationship between the notes of two instruments, since the viewer must mentally combine two or more staves into one. In MAM notation, all the notes are on the same staff, with different instruments indicated by color.

MAM notation shows the actual irregular timings of notes in a performance, not the mathematically exact timings of conventional notation. The MAM notation can be colored to highlight thematic units, instrumentation, harmony, or dynamics. MAM scores can be understood by very young children: children as young as eighteen months have demonstrated that they recognize the relationship between the sound and the visual display. Many people are visually oriented and more able to pay attention to visual objects than sounds. This may be the reason that a visual analogue to a piece of music makes it more real to children.

 

Viewing QuickTime movies

In an attempt to keep download times to a minimum, the resolution of the QuickTime movies has been reduced from what is used in the videotapes. The result is that viewers must choose between image size and image quality. If the image is small, it will scroll smoothly and look clear but it may be hard to see all the notes (especially the shortest ones).
If the QuickTime window is resized to make the image larger, the notes will be easy to see, but the scrolling will be jerky and the bars may have little dots in them. In the future, when Internet connection speeds are higher and ISP traffic charges are lower, the resolution of these movies will be increased. Until then, the way to see the scrolling scores at their best is to view them on videotape (and, hopefully, soon, DVD).

 

 

Stephen Malinowski

Fugue

Dedicated to Stanley Krebs

The fugue, an original composition by Stephen Malinowski, is accompanied by a graphical score, in the form of QuickTime software.

Stanley Dale Krebs (1928-1977) was a talented performer, a gifted composer, a gentleman, ascholar, and a mensch. He was also the only composition teacher I ever had who understood why a 20th century composer (such as myself) would want to write fugues. A fugue-lover himself, he was the regular instructor of Canon and Fugue at the University of California at Santa Barbara (where I studied composition). I often visited him during his office hours to play fugues with him, 4-handed, at the piaNo. After he died (alas, too soon!), I wrote this fugue in his memory. The first fugue Stanley and I ever played together was the G-minor fugue from the second book of the Well-Tempered Clavier. My fugue to Stanley took the key (at least, the key signature; it’s hard to say what key the piece is in), the meter, and the first two notes (in reversed order) from that fugue. Here’s the theme:

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

With the first notes (which tend toward minor), I tried to suggest mourning, and with the latter, a more uplifting feeling. When the second voice does the scales, the first voice imitates it, forming a sequence:

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

The soprano enters third, but its entrance is nearly hidden by the other voices; only as it continues through the rising part of the theme does it assume its rightful place on tOp. ..

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

At the end of the soprano’s statement of the theme, it is the octave leap which the other voices imitate...

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

Typically, the stretto of a fugue (a place where two or more parts have the theme in a highly overlapping way) is saved for a latter part of the piece, where its intensity helps make a good climax. In this fugue, however, the stretto (and the climax) happens earlier (the tenor, in red, starts, and the soprano, in yellow, follows).

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

The rest of the piece is more of a dénouement, a reverie of reminiscence; when the alto reaches the descending scales in the theme, two other voices join it...

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

...and then the theme starts disintegrating; here, the repeated notes of the theme are alternated between the tenor and bass...

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

...and when the bass reaches the scale section, all of the voices follow it...

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

 

Fugue-wise, we’re clearly not in Kansas anymore!

As the endless staircase continues, the tenor discreetly drops out, and then quotes the theme from the WTC fugue...

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

...and here, the octave leap is split between the alto and the other voices.

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

In the final chord, the tenor (which, since I play the viola and sing tenor, stands for me), on the fifth of the chord (the most unresolved tone in the chord) refuses to let go.

From the movie of the Malinovski's fugue

 

 

Troubleshooting

The most common problem people have with these QuickTime movies is that there’s no sound. This usually results from having a version of QuickTime that’s too old to have the proper decoder for audio that’s been encoded with the ODesign encoder. Get here the latest version of QuickTime.

Malinowski and his wife Lisa TuretskyStephen Malinowski - Biography

 

Born in Santa Monica, California, USA in 1953, Stephen Malinowski (on the photo with his wife, Lisa Turetsky) studied composition with Thea Musgrave, Peter Fricker, and Stanley Krebs. He started working on Music Animation Machine in the 1970s, writing computer software in the 1980s, selling videotapes of his animations in the 1990s and working as a researcher in musical psychoacoustics in 2001.

 

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