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.

Monday, August 29, 2016


World Music Visualisations: Paradigm Change?

“With so many solutions, you know there must be a problem.” — Andre Lippens

That simple statement more or less sums up instrument modelling for the internet. Thousands of very similar, standalone solutions to the same problem.

If you look, for example, into the DMOZ directories of music sites, it is astonishing how many do much the same thing. Notation. Guitar. Piano. Bass. Theory. 90% text. 10% static exercises. Videos. Exceptionally, some limited interaction. Little or no context, immediacy, or immersion.

Revolution time.

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

Paradigm Change (Freepik)


World Music Visualisations: Paradigm Change?

A paradigm change or shift occurs 'when the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something changes completely'.

Musical Storytelling

Story Threads or Arcs

From it's communal origins in the communication of cultural identity through saga, ritual and dance, over the display of wealth through balls, concerts and firework displays, to it's commercial use as dramatic tool in film, as driver to digital light shows or screen animations, music has always been intimately associated with storytelling.
Until now, however, the physical link between music and activity or display was synchronised either manually, or -more recently- by simple sampling mechanisms: amplitude (loudness) or to some degree, frequency.
With the framework under discussion here, however, the means are at hand to drive animations -whatever their nature- directly from the musical score.

This opens up storytelling possibilities at a considerably finer grained level of musical detail. These include all the scenarios mentioned above, of course, but in particular in teaching the dynamic relationships between instrument use and underlying theoretical abstraction - in a 2D or 3D context.

Relationships between score, instrument and theory tool could be made explicit. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Relationships between Score, Instrument and Theory Tool

Indeed, ultimately, more or less any visualisation will, in some way or other, be synchronisable with a musical score. The only real limit is that of own imagination.
--> takes visual storytelling to the next level.

SVG Note Selection. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
SVG Note

Directly Selectable and Interrogable Notation

This is far from the first time scalar vector graphics have been used to represent musical glyphs (graphical note forms), but to my knowledge is the first time music notation has been made available in a directly addressable, interrogable form, allowing the selection at the current point of playback to be used to drive dependent animations.
Every note can surrender it's name, midi or other index number, colour or indeed octave. Further information, such as frequency or (for just intonations) ratio values can be added as needs dictate.
--> takes notation to the next level.

A Timeline- and Playback-Based Single Page Application

There are many timeline-based single page applications (SPAs) around, but on the whole suffer from one of two deficits.

  • Many are standalone applications dedicated to one specific task, rather than frameworks allowing customisation to suit a user's modelling preferences.
  • To date almost all have focussed on simple 'mouseover', 'hover and tap', or 'scroll and zoom' - rather than the much more immersive 'playback/sample and animate' approach.

In driving dependent animations directly from a timeline, powerful insights are gained into the dynamics and underlying structures of music, but also into musical story (form) development.

--> takes notation playback usage to the next level.

Music Learning Aggregator platform

world, music, visualisation, visualization, instrument, models, theory, tools, immersion. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Immersion Through Score-Driven Instrument Models and Theory Tools

In adopting a platform rather than an app approach, multiple tightly integrated visual models, contextual information, audio and notation are combined into a single, highly immersive learning environment entirely customisable to user's needs.
--> takes immersion to the next level

Potential Crowdfunder?

Pre-Crowdfunding Registration (* indicates required)
Email Format

Model and Map any Instrument to any Theory Tool

In directly linking instrument models and theory tools via simple configuration tools, customisations made to either can be instantly reflected in the other. 

If configured beyond the score's musical limits, there will be a mismatch with the driving notation, but there are cases - 12TET in place of 24TET, or choice of a different just intonation with no change to notation- where all three remain compatible.
Decoupling notation from instruments and theory models does, on the other hand, allow a degree of 'what-if' configuration play. Even so, this outstrips the possibilities presented by most current online tools.

--> takes 'what-if' scenarios to the next level.

Enabler for Remote Person-to-Person Teaching and Learning 

Peer-to-peer teaching and learning has profound implications for music. Not only does it better ensure musical diversity, but provides a welcome revenue stream for traditional and folk musicians and will have dramatic impact on musician's travel time and energy squander.
--> brings instrumental teachers and learners closer together, virtually and in time.

Potential synergies with other services

Though not a primary focus of this platform, there are countless opportunities for interworking with other services, either through their published web APIs or by means of community repositories. These range from music notation through instruments, courses, audio samples/recordings and video, to social music and dance events.

Music is a discipline. It demands concentration and focus. Many social media sites, however, abuse the relationship with their users by peppering them with highly intrusive advertising - often in direct conflict with their needs and goals. 

Where users do have a need, site search, community feedback and test should support it, but while encouraging neither impulsive nor compulsive buying. Clutter and distraction are in themselves a mental cage.

Consumption Spreads Faster Today NY Times
Consumption Spreads Faster Today

For an instrument, for example, search criteria might include community ratings of ease of play, quality of timbre, aesthetics, evenness across tonal range, accuracy of temperament or intonation, workmanship or after-sales service quality.

Shopping cart only. No advertising. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Shopping Cart

Whatever else, the site will be advertising-free, access to 3rd party sites resulting from user interaction with, for example, a generic shopping cart (sales) icon on each instrument model.

--> the commercial model embraces deliberate choice, driven by own curiosity.

Niche Chat Network

While chat applications have shown huge growth in recent years, there is evidence that their focus is shifting from generalities towards shared interests. Indeed, niche networks are expected to play a large role in what is otherwise a saturated chat market. Music is in this respect no exception.
In bringing musicians from various walks of life together, discovery, self-organisation and exchange are likely to be made much easier.

No paradigm change here, just a little more focus. If others can do it, so can we.

Zero Speculation

This project is focussed on a common musical heritage and it's contribution to community and wellbeing. 
If the right business model and culture can be established, cultural investment will be forthcoming. Governments, universities, cultural bodies, music teachers and students all have something to gain from sponsorship. Moreover, culture, community and heritage seems to me to be no place for revenue-driven optimisation exercises and the distractions of commerce, hence:

Zero speculation.


About Cantillate -

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

Comments, questions and (especially) critique welcome.