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Monday, November 14, 2016


Consistent Colour Propagation

Colour Propagation

Colour coding of note heads across the span of a scale is common in music teaching. If we want to drive dependent animations from a score, it is important that any colour palette applied to note heads is consistent across all attached animations.

These may including static instrument fingerboard roadmaps, dynamic finger positions on an instrument model, abstract theory diagrams, psychophysical, cultural or esoteric mappings and much more.

Moreover, we want these hot-loaded animations both to synchronise with these settings automatically and remain synched throughout interactive use. Using data visualisation techniques, these are all within reach.

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Some of the programmatic detail supporting correct colour display is not yet fully implemented in what you see below. Nevertheless, I hope you get the idea..

Note Head and Position Colouring and Highlighting Across Notation and Tools #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Note Head and Position Colouring and Highlighting

Note heads in the score, and note positions around the chromatic circle are coloured, waveforms for each contributing note are coloured.

The noteheads of the currently playing notes are highlighted red, as are the corresponding notes on the chromatic circle.

Note Colouring and Highlighting

You can get an idea of the colour assignment from this short video:

Notehead Colouring Selection from Menu 

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It's tempting to think this is more or less the end of the story. Nevertheless, colour could be associated with (or used to distinguish between) any of the following:

o musical instrument range
o performer's vocal range
o part or voice in a score
o octave
o all notes associated with a musical clef
o note type (minim, crotchet, breve etc)
o timbre group
o dynamics
o currently playing note
o musical offsets (fifths, fourths, thirds)
o a selected versus an unselected item

Clearly, given so many colour usage opportunities in a musical context, there is a high potential for misinterpretation. This is a particularly tricky topic in a shared, P2P environment where colour may play a vital role in communication, and where colour choice has an impact on visibility across multiple devices. As with any naming convention, there are strong argument for central user control- an transparency.

A selection of Pinterest pins featuring the use of colour in music. #VisualFutureOfMusic #WorldMusicInstrumentsAndTheory
Music and Colour Pins on Pinterest

There are many ways of overcoming this, the most tempting of which may be to force the user to think: in colour selection menus, insisting that context be set prior to selecting a colour scheme, and then by making this context very evident throughout.

You can find a lot more on the topic of colour use in music on one of my many Pinterest pages.

At the end of the day, though, the approach adopted will lie in the hands of a future high priest of user interface test and design.

What do you think? Is colour relevant in an animation context?

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About Cantillate -

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

Comments, questions and (especially) critique welcome.