Composer, author, lecturer, guitar teacher

The colour of music

A couple of days ago I had a comment from Stephen Malinowski concerning his animated graphical score of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The links are

Part 1:
Part 2:

This uses a piece of software called the Music Animation Machine.  His website has lots of information about it. I’m very attuned to the Rite just now because of preparatory work for the course I’m teaching in the summer, so I really appreciated what he has done with this presentation.

This is a fantastic labour and a terrific educative tool. As you watch the video you see the music moving from right to left as pulsations of colour, from low-pitch to high-pitch. It’s not only a pretty visual display, it makes visible many textural features of the music itself. It is quite easy to see that Stravinsky is repeating certain melodic motifs, lending evidence to my feeling that the Rite is a more ‘organic’ score than is often assumed to be the case. By this I mean that there is a greater recycling of certain musical ideas than often thought. The music becomes a live, pulsating organism. This is like looking into its breathing body. I get a similar feeling when I look at a score (scores are underestimated in their beauty) but you need a little familiarity with their conventions to do that. This visual presentation could be followed by anyone. I also feel the beauty of the visual display will make it easier for some people to cope with the dissonant quality of the music if they are usually put off by this. Whether or not you know the Rite you should take a look.

I should mention that the soundtrack to this video was created by Jay Bacall using the wonderful orchestral samples of the Vienna Symphonic Library.

My album of guitar music Atlantic Canticles has been held up by a really silly technological problem with the artwork. However, I think it is finally sorted, so I should be uploading the music within a day. There will then be a short delay for the album to be compiled and distributed to various websites where you’ll be able to buy it.

News recently of the death of 1960s singer-songwriter Richie Havens. Havens was a guitarist with a highly unorthodox technique involving his thumb playing half-barres in various open tunings. He also had a very soulful voice. If you have never heard it, listen to his performance of ‘Eyesight To The Blind’ on the Lou Reizner 1972 orchestral version of The Who’s Tommy (which is on youtube).


2 responses

  1. Joel Glazier


    I appreciated the info and links in your recent posting. Ironically, in my ‘happy retirement” I had begun to finally read an “autobiography” of Richie Havens that I had purchased a few years ago. Then we lose him last week. In his book he took time (with photos) to discuss his unique ‘thumb based” guitar playing. Glad you mentioned it too. Hope all is well with you and your fascinating world of skills and learning and teaching.

    Regards Joel Glazier Delaware USA (I was an appreciative student in your first “Beatles” Oxford Summer Experience class.)

    April 28, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    • Hello Joel, thanks for reading and posting a comment. The Beatles course you took proved to be very popular, though it will be rested in 2014. Rikky

      April 29, 2013 at 4:47 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.