The 100-year anniversary of the premiere of Rite of Spring arrives next month, and Stephen Malinowski has just sent me a link to the "animated score" he has created and posted on Youtube. It's rather like a kaleidoscopic "follow the bouncing ball." It gives you something to look at while all that great music is going on, and it beats the hell out of Fantasia:
Here is an excerpt from the press release that arrived in my email:
The ballet The Rite of Spring with music by Stravinsky was first performed in Paris on May 29, 1913.
In celebration of the centenary of its premiere, music synthesist Jay Bacal and music animator Stephen Malinowski have collaborated to create an animated, graphical score for viewers.
The animation, which you can watch and listen to on YouTube, is a musical score that nonmusicians can understand. It's a welcoming way to appreciate the structure of the work, and heightens your listening by enlisting the visual channel, which allows one to easily follow the different lines of the orchestration.
"The animation lets your eyes lead your ears," Malinowski says. Malinowski, based in the Bay Area, has created music animations for more than 200 pieces of music. He has provided animation for Björk and provided live animation synchronized to performances by symphony orchestra, chamber music groups and soloists.
With this kind of presentation, the thing that I (an untrained listener) could do that I couldn't normally do with an unfamiliar piece is anticipate. On a first go-though, I was eventually able to anticipate:
- The sheer quantity of instruments
- The complexity of the whole at any given point
- Changes, big and little (as in, “Uh-oh, everybody's about to play at once,” or “Oops, here comes the big silence.")
- Sometimes the instruments. The symbols were not easy to decipher. Only the percussion was obvious, especially the cymbals.
I was not able to anticipate volume.
It was hard to take notes in my word processing software as I watched, switching back and forth between the music and the typed page, because the lines of type seemed to be moving across the page from left to right, as the final still image on a movie screen seems to move after the credits stop rolling.
In one place, I could see sounds that I could not hear.
As for the piece itself, the woodwinds in general and the clarinets in particular seemed to be the stars, at least in the first part. In the second part, I was too distracted by trying to figure out the visuals to really pay attention to the music. Probably not what the creators intended but that’s what happened.
This was cool.
Seriously? You'd never heard the Rite before?
Heard it? Yes, I'm sure. Listened to it? No. Sorry.
Sometimes I forget not everyone has wasted his life in front of the stereo. Your experience with the video was the opposite of mine. I knew what was coming as far as the music was concerned, so I found myself trying to anticipate the graphics.
This is cool!
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