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experience moonlight online - soon!

Interactive Visualization of Beethoven's No.14

Moonlight is an interactive installation of the visualization of the first movement of Beethoven's No.14 Sonata. It was originally installed at the Texas Fine Arts Association gallery in downtown Austin, TX as part of the 'Digital Face of Interactive Art' exhibition organized by the Austin Museum of Digital Art.

photo, the tfaa gallery

photo, the moonlight installation
The piece allows the participant to walk among the composition, watching and listening to it unfold. Projecting the note information derived from a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) file, the participant exists simultaneously in the song's past, present, and future.

Simple color bars and geometric shapes represent each note played, as captured from an actual human performance. Opacity represents volume and color represents harmonic grouping. Abstracted depth and realism is applied by altering the topology of the projected surface.

Pseudo Mechanical Universe
Moonlight abandons many traditional elements of musical annotation.

Notes being played are symbolized simply by colored blocks. Notes are still arranged in western left to right fashion, with time passing across the horizontal axis, while pitch is indicated using a combination of color, vertical spacing, and harmonic grouping. Colors are taken from a digitized photograph of a natural environment.
figure a. about 64 notes rendered in blueprint style

This digital piece is assembled through a number of computational steps. First, a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) file of the score is created when a human performs the piece on a MIDI enabled piano. For each note played, a series of properties describes the event in elaborate detail. Inscribed details include: the time the note was struck, the velocity of the strike, the length of the sustain, and the pitch of the key.

figure b. the first movement of the moonlight sonata rendered as a Soyez Rocket, sectioned into four measures.

The MIDI file is then converted into two parts. First, a digital audio re-recording the performance compressed in MP3; and second, a representation of the note information encoded in XML.

The two are recombined with user preferences applied into a real-time, graphic presentation generated by the music's structure. Interaction with the piece allows users to modify the geometry, color, and behavior of the notes. In response, the perceptual, projected environment (through which the particpant physically navigates) changes and evolves.

Visualization: Flash 5
Audio: MP3
MIDI to XML Conversion: C++
Song Information: MIDI v2

Jared Tarbell - design and code
Lola Brine - installation
Corey Barton - audio production
Wesley Venable - piano performance
Ludwig Van Beethoven - original composition
Stephen Malinowski - inspiration, MAMe

Additional Links
from the visualization engine.
Early development images.
Photographs from the gallery.