Goldberg Visualizations

visualization. october 2007.

I had this in mind for quite a while already and hope to be able to improve on this first version at some time. The Goldberg Variations (BWV988) are a crazy hypnotic set of 30 variations on an aria that is to be played at the beginning and at the end, totaling in 32 pieces.

Each piece also consists of 32 bars of which the first 16 have to be repeated, then the second 16. The variations don’t happen on the melody but on the underlying base-line. Every third piece (except the last) is a canon, so nine canons in total, each having its follower start a note higher than the previous (or so, i am not a musician, but i know what i mean). Also each of the pieces is consisting of two to four voices.

I took those underlying structural elements as the basis to create kind of a visual hearing-aid that i was hoping would help someone better grasp the complexity and beauty of the music.

In order to get the realtime-data of the piano as it was performed by Andreas Eggertsberger we used a Yamaha Disklavier which is an ordinary piano that also returns midi-signals. Also i needed the software to always know where exactly in the score we are at each note played. I therefore patched a little score-follower that would compare the notes played with a static midi-score i had borrowed from David J. Grossmann. But it soon turned out that that would not be accurate enough so we had Natsumi Morita support the system by following the score herself and pressing a button for each bar so that the software was able to re-sync in case it lost track.

What you see below was recorded during the Stop.Spot! festival 2007. I didn’t manage to prepare for proper documentation so the only things i got are aria + variations 1-9 in bad quality, sorry for that.

Anyway, after the aria you can see the 3 different kinds of visualizations that alternated:

  • voices in respect to the arias base-line (transparent plateaus)
  • the repetition of 16 bars
  • parallel voices in the canons visualized through a shift in perspective

Patched with vvvv.