Seeing Stravinsky

Composer and software engineer Stephen Malinowski made a stunning visualization of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring, a ballet that premiered 100 years ago this week:

In an interview, Malinowski describes his inspiration:

From your vantage point, what’s the benefit of visualizing scores?

People usually respond to sound in a unitary way. It’s the reason why you can’t follow more than one conversation at a time at a party, for example. But with vision, your brain is trained to comprehend multiple things at once: you can take in many more elements simultaneously. In music, there’s often much more going on than you can grasp in that moment of hearing. When you have a visualization, your eyes lead your ears through the music. You take advantage of your brain’s ability to process multiple pieces of visual information simultaneously. … When that information is presented as graphs, it’s very easy to understand.

Malinowski created similar visual scores for pieces by Debussy and Beethoven.