Visualization of the Week: Visualizing Bach

An artist blends sound and design to visualize the prelude to Bach's Cello Suites.

Artist Alexander Chen has taken the first prelude to Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cello Suites and created a visualization that works in lieu of traditional musical notation.
The visualization contains eight strings, which match the prelude’s eight-note phrasing. The strings are also like those on a harp, which change lengths depending on Pythagorean tuning.

“It’s math based on the fraction 2/3,” Chen writes on his blog. “I started with the longest string, setting it to a symbolic length of pixels. When cut to 2/3 length, it goes up a fifth. Cut its length by 1/2 and it goes up an octave. 3/4 length, one fourth. From these simple numbers, I calculated the relative string lengths of all the notes in the piece.”

You can see, hear and interact with the full visualization at Baroque.me.

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This post is part of an ongoing series exploring visualizations. We’re always looking for leads, so please drop a line if there’s a visualization you think we should know about.

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