Posted by: Dr. Grover B. Proctor, Jr. | 19 May 2011



I stumbled on this small piece of clever animation done to one of my all-time favorite piano works, Debussy’s Arabesque No. 1. (It’s a sensitive if not profound performance by pianist Stephen Malinowski, who also did the animation.) The animation is certainly a fun way to demonstrate the art and mechanics of contrapuntal lines. (Scroll down to see video.)

As someone always fascinated with the graphical representation of data, I say what better “data” than music? Here, the pianist has graphed the music on at least 6 dimensions –

  1. pitch (vertically),
  2. time (horizontally, with anticipated tones translucent and completed tones transparent),
  3. contemporaneity (tones currently sounding highlighted as solid, with fading dynamics depicted by decreases in size),
  4. tempo (speed of animation horizontally),
  5. relative dynamics (size of diameter of circles), and
  6. musical lines (connected by different colored physical lines).

Add all of that to the “seventh dimension” of composition (Debussy = non-quantifiable, non-representational, artistic genius) and the “eighth dimension” of interpretation (personal, shown by the interplay of intentional changes in the first 6 dimensions from the “published” score of “incoming” circles) and you have a mesmerizing 5 minutes.

P.S. The same artist that animated and played the Debussy has many more such videos on Youtube, including The Marriage of Figaro overture; much Bach, including the Little Fugue in g minor (on sampled fortepiano with simulated pedals!), the Toccata and Fugue in d minor, and a split-screen version of the Fugue No. 1 in C from WTC; and a very busy animation of Albeniz’ Asturias (guitar). Enjoy.



  1. Debussy Arabesque No. 1 – Lovely to listen while browsing the site too. I wonder what the “bouncing ball” Welkees would think?

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