World Music's DIVERSITY and Data Visualisation's EXPRESSIVE POWER collide. A galaxy of INTERACTIVE, SCORE-DRIVEN instrument model and theory tool animations is born.

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Motivation, Concept, Challenges, Links

Only a tiny range of the world's instruments have a significant online presence. Without intervention, music industry domination of the internet will leave us with a global monoculture. In opening up instrument and theory tool modelling to our entire treasury of world music instruments and theory, this platform seeks to redress some of the balance.

Big, brave, open-source, non-profit, community-provisioned, cross-cultural and robot chicken crazy. → Like, share, back-link, pin, tweet and mail. Hashtags? For crowdfunding: #VisualFutureOfMusic. For the future live platform: #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory. Or just register as a potential crowdfunder..

Open music visualisation visualizations source animations panel contributions score driven github repository comparative musicology. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Open Source, Score-Driven Animations Panel

Potential Crowdfunder?

Pre-Crowdfunding Registration (* indicates required)
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Music Visualisation Platform

In addition to 
score loading, playback controls and open source / crowd-funded instrument models and theory tools, the base platform will provide for population with user's preferred content, the underlying mechanics of synchronised animation, and later, all going well, inter-browser (P2P) animation controls.

Of course, much can be achieved through the application of widely established data visualisation techniques within the field of music practice and theory. For the remainder (dedicated instrument model and theory tool animations), it may take time to provision (artisanal programming at it's most finicky), but the platform represents a huge enablement opportunity.

The foundation, of course, is the notation: the score display. With the aim of being manipulable in a wide range of new ways, this has been implemented from the ground up using 'data-driven' practices. The notation is lightweight, the results lending themselves well to a variety of scaling and animation effects:
cartesian distortion, (or it's simpler variant, rollover), pan and zoom, brush and zoom, scroll, orientation, cropping.

There is of course a long way to go before full orchestral scores can be displayed, but the core challenges of multi-voiced, multi-part scoring have been overcome.

Dependent Animations

Moreover, any instrument models or theory tools present in the central animation panel are automatically and progressively driven as score playback progresses. This process is synchronised for all models displayed in the animations panel.

With playback speeds under user control and the promise of looping, relations between instrument and abstract theory models can be much more easily followed and internalised.

What we have, then are intimately linked and synchronised displays, bring immediacy, rich context and intuitive, visual insight to music learning, representing a radical advance on all that has gone before.


The World Music Dilemma. Resource or Heritage? #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Resource or Heritage?
  • Fill the many gaps in music instrument modelling in the browser - and especially the modelling of underappreciated traditional and world music instruments.
  • Bring music theory to visual life through a wide range of 2D and 3D models 
  • Joint, intimate and simultaneous configuration of instrument and theory tools using simple, shared graphical aids.
  • Facilitating musical curiosity and cooperation through advanced graphical tools
  • Sustaining musical heritage.
  • Fostering cross-cultural musical understanding (comparative musicology).
  • Encouraging musical experiment and diversity.
  • Adding social value through partnerships and over web APIs.
  • enable remote interworking between teachers and learners of world music instruments worldwide.
This final point (which also represents the pinnacle of the platform goals) can be understood as an attempt to augment current video chat with a palette of shared, mutually interactive tools.

To this end, I hope the very openness of the platform encourages the creation and submission of a wide range of open source instrument and tool animations.

Validated and approved, these could be made available to the whole community, allowing them to be brought on demand into the central animation panel.

Animation will be submitted via an established code repository such as Github.


We are heirs to a solid folk, traditional and world music foundation, comprising hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dances, work, protest, celebratory and travel songs, along with a vast repository of ritual and other community music.

My feeling is that the revenue optimisation that resulting from speculation would put at risk many of the performance and usage freedoms associated with these works - if not in the long term their existence. It seems essential that this reservoir and any derivatives be protected, and remain free to be developed. To this end: open source, community and enthusiast driven.

It is my hope that development of the instrument models and theory tools for this aggregator platform will be financed through crowd funding initiatives organised directly by the affected music communities. How?
World Music Visualisation Platform: Generating Social Value. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
World Music Visualisation Platform: Generating Social Value.

Building on a foundation of open web standards, crowdfunding fuels the development of instrument models and theory tools in an open source (liberal code reuse) context.

Content (the driving scores) can be created and shared by the community via editing tools such as NoteFlight (Freemium) or MuseScore (Open Source), and directly imported, currently as MusicXML.

Music Aggregator Platform: Sharing as Central Platform Tenet #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Sharing as Central Platform Tenet

All resulting social value (including discussion) can be community moderated, with new implementation initiatives under the direction and control of the community as a whole.

Adequately funded, those involved in their development can focus their attention on technical execution. The goal is to build social value over time.

Building on this 'open-everything' model, the resulting animations would, for example, be available for advanced level teaching in music schools.


A good number of modern web frameworks have as (often unstated) goal the management of complexity.

Perhaps because complexity has, wherever possible, been avoided here, many design decisions lie contrary to widespread practice. The results were instead arrived at under careful vetting and over an extended period of time, and hence subjected to little pressure to conform.

Here something of a road map for this platform and it's future.

World Music Visualisation Aggregator Platform Challenges Solutions. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
World Music Comparative Musicology Visualisation Platform: Challenges and Solutions
Nevertheless, and quite aside from the (solvable) technical aspects, we can for the foreseeable future be sure of a couple of overriding challenges:
  • teacher-student language issues
  • network latency
  • how to represent idiom (genre) and associated stylistic elements
  • how to best to support differences in methodology - and consistency
  • resistance to change amongst traditional musicians
  • the aural nature of much of world music and folk traditions

Link Collection

To this end, I'd like to share some background material (diagrams, screenshots and/or video captures) already provided to other sites.

These document progress towards the base music visualisation aggregator platform, and -depending on the nature of the hosting site- highlighting some of the motivations, the rough concept and current state by means of links, .

Especially on Pinterest, you will find links to many related static (image), active (animated gif) and video (animation) resources, and which I hope may provide some inspiration to 3rd party developers of dynamic, interactive, score-driven models for later integration to this platform.


About Cantillate -

Autodidact. Laird o' the Windy Wa's. Serial Failure with Attitude. Bit of a Dreamer..

Comments, questions and (especially) critique welcome.