Music Animation Machine Live

© Wouter Van Waerenbergh, at Festival Van Vlaanderen, Gent, 2013

See What You Hear
 

 

News: The MAM is developing further into a platform and ecoystem for visual music. See Music:Eyes and this promo reel for first information.

 

 

“Haha, I'm 13 and the previous version of this video was the one that got me into classical music. Thanks a bunch!”
RTHettish, July 2013 (see more viewer comments below)

 

The Music Animation Machine (MAM), an animated graphical score created by musician and software engineer Stephen Malinowski, has captivated many people.  His YouTube channel "smalin," which primarily features classical music, has received over 120 million views and countless grateful comments from people of all ages and backgrounds. 

 

Viewers who cannot read music express their pleasure at understanding aspects of the music that were previously out of reach, and many, including trained musicians, report a heightened degree of concentration, leading to a deeper, more compelling experience.

 

The MAM has been presented at TEDx events in Amsterdam and Zurich and used for Apps such as Biophilia by pop singer Bjoerk and the Wagner Files by the Gebrueder Beetz. It is part of exhibits and is featured in live performances in venues such as Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Alte Oper Frankfurt - using a Volkswagen window crank to synchronize the visuals to the music.


It has been or will be presented at the "Art of Music Education" conference of the Körber Stiftung in January 2014 in Hamburg, in an article in "Sounds of Europe" of the European Music Council, in the first edition of the new classical music tablet magazine "van" and at the classical:NEXT conference 2014 in Vienna. In a peer review on the online learning and teaching platform Merlot.org, MAM gets high marks and universities such as Yale use MAM in their music teaching material.

 

The secret of the MAM is that it is a score designed for listeners.  As in a conventional score, the pitch, timing, duration, and instrument of every note in the piece is represented. However, instead of arbitrary symbols for notes, we have colorful shapes that relate intuitively to the structure of the music.  These shapes create easily-recognizable patterns that pass by from right to left and light up in the "now", which is always in the center. This leads the viewer to see patterns in the future, so that what is about to be heard can be predicted and anticipated.  As the patterns are also visible in the past, the visual representation enhances auditory memory. The MAM is thus a "GPS for music," a dynamic, context-sensitive view of the listener's musical surroundings, highlighting the features that are relevant at the moment, providing an easy-to-follow "route" through complex compositions.

 

Find below MAM clips and pictures, a list of performances and more information. And download the document right here.

Live Performances and Exhibits

 

March 9 2016: Concert at Arlberg1800 with Johannes Fleischmann (Vl) and Philippe Raskin (Pno)

February 25 2016: Musikkollegium Winterthur, Sergej Prokofiev "Symphonie Classique"

January 24 2016: Basel Sinfonietta, Michael Torke "Ecstatic Orange"

December 11 2015: Ynight Salzhaus Winterthur (Switzerland), with Musikkollegium Winterthur

 

February - July 2015: Björk "Vulnicura" on Tour (Carnegie Hall, Parco della Musica Rome etc.)

 

April 19 - May 3 2015: Korea Tour with the Huh Piano Trio

January 25 - 31 2015: Caracas, Venezuela

January 23 2015: Rc4 Festival Rio de Janeiro, also featuring: Francesco Tristano, Gabriel Prokofiev, Brandt Brauer Frick, Joan Marti (SiteTrailerclip)

November 7 2014: Ynight feat. Michael Wendeberg, Andreas Fleck a.o. in Liestal, Switzerland

November 1 2014: Education Project of Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, Vienna

September 26 2014: nach(t)konzert, Beethoven String Quartet op.131 feat. Minguet Quartet @ Alte Oper Frankfurt

September 18 2014: Ynight feat. Andreas Scholl & Fabian Russ @ Klangbasel

September 1 2014: TONALI competition Hamburg

August 21 2014: Sistema Europe Youth Orchestra concert in Istanbul

July 12 2014: "Listen with your Eyes" @ Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam

May 24 2014: Apples&Olives 1st Indie Classical Festival Zurich, Final Night

April 4 - May 17 2014: "Several Circles" Exhibit in the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts New York

May 5 2014: "Das Hören Sehen" @ PODIUM Festival Esslingen

April 25/26/27 2014: San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, Beethoven "Grosse Fuge"

April 5 2014: Ynight Electro+Visuals+Classical @ Alts Schlachthuus Laufen, Switzerland

April 4 2014: Casual Classics XL, Eindhoven, Netherlands

March 22 2014: Ynight Hoedown @ SUD Basel, Cooperation with Musik-Akademie Basel

Januara 18 2014: Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra, Beethoven "Grosse Fuge"

December 19, 21 2013: Ynight Nonclassical feat. Gabriel Prokofiev, Zurich, Bern

November 23 2013: Morelia Festival, Mexico with I.Stravinsky: Sacre du Printemps, Orquesta Filarmonica de la Ciudad de Mexico, dir. José Arean

November 6 2013: TEDxAmsterdam "A GPS for Music" @ Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam

September 27, 28 2013: OdeGand by Night @ Festival Van Vlaanderen Gent, Belgium

September 22 2013: iConcert @ Sounds of Childhood Festival, Holon, Israel

April 11 2013: Ynight Dark Soul Zurich feat. Andreas Scholl

February 28 2013: Ynight Dance Zurich feat. Vilde Frang, David Orlowsky, Julien Quentin

October 25 2013: Ynight The First Zurich feat. Stephan Malinowski

October 25 2013: TEDxZurich Bach performance

October 12, 13 2013: Beethoven 7 @ Nürnberger Symphoniker, dir. Alexander Shelley

Presentations


Various presentations and interactive workshops are an opportunity to explore and enjoy the Music Animation Machine in 2D and 3D - and try it yourself.

 

Etienne Abelin presenting the Music Animation Machine at TEDx in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, 2013

Pianist Julien Quentin explaining the synchronator tool

Stephen Malinowski, Etienne Abelin and Dorothy Yeung at TEDxZurich 2012

Clip of Stephen Malinowski, Etienne Abelin and Dorothy Yeung at TEDxZurich 2012

Performances


Some impressions of live performances of the Music Animation Machine.

 

Björk, "Vulnicura" in Carnegie Hall, New York, 2015

"Back to the Future" Children's Concert at Sounds of Childhood Festival at Holon Theatre Tel Aviv, Israel 2013, with Natasha Sher, Violin, Ori Leshman, Conductor, Israel Camerata Jerusalem, Edan Alterman, Actor and Etienne Abelin, Synchronator Tool

Clip live at TONALI Competition Hamburg, highly immersive, projected on semi-transparent screen, 2014 (Click on image to see video clip)

"Bach With GPS" Etienne Abelin, Violin & Daria Van den Bercken, Piano & Brendan Walsh, Synchronator Tool © Wouter Van Waerenbergh, at Festival Van Vlaanderen, Gent, 2013

"Bach With GPS" Brendan Walsh, Synchronator Tool © Wouter Van Waerenbergh, at Festival Van Vlaanderen, Gent, 2013

Igor Stravinsky, Sacre du Printemps, live with MAM, Etienne Abelin Synchronator,

@ Morelia Festival Mexico, 2013

Andreas Scholl singing J. Brahms "In Stiller Nacht" and Vilde Frang playing in a J.S. Bach String Trio at the Ynight - Classical in Club Zurich 2013 with audience members joining in on the Synchronator Tool

Ynight - Classical in Club Zurich featuring Stephen Malinowski and the Music Animation Machine, 2013

Children's Programs


Children are glued to the Music Animation Machine. Their horizons expand, their capacities increase as they intuitively understand the interrelation between music and visuals.

 

"Back to the Future" Children's Concert at Sounds of Childhood Festival at Holon Theatre Tel Aviv, Israel 2013, with Natasha Sher, Violin, Ori Leshman, Conductor, Israel Camerata Jerusalem, Edan Alterman, Actor and Etienne Abelin, Synchronator Tool

"Back to the Future" Children's Concert at Sounds of Childhood Festival at Holon Theatre Tel Aviv, Israel 2013, Edan Alterman as the Mad Scientist and Etienne Abelin as his assistant with the Synchronator Tool

The synchronization tool: a Volkswagen window crank


Stephen Malinowski developed a tool to synchronize the speed of the visuals to live music performances. It is in fact a Volkswagen window crank, played by an extra musician or an audience member: the synchronator. Analogue meets digital in a unique union.

 

Music Animation Machine Visualizations on the Web


Some samples of MAM animations on Youtube channel "smalin". Best enjoyed full screen in the dark!

 

Claude Debussy: Arabesque no. 1, Stephen Malinowski, Piano & Visuals

Igor Stravinsky: Sacre du Printemps, part 1

Johannes Brahms: Piano Quartet (Piano, Violin, Viola, Cello), c-minor op.60, 3rd. mov.

Press

On stage, the dynamic of Rite is intensely visceral: fragile bodies pitted against gravity, the urgency of desire pitted against mortality and chaos. In Bacal and Malinowski's Rite, however, the music is drawn towards an almost celestial clarity; it feels closer to the stars than to the Earth. That's partly due to the rigorous patterning of the animation's design, but also because the whole concept of this graphical score is that it allows our eye to anticipate the music, preparing a logical path for it. It's a beautiful, but very different experience of Rite – more about transcendence than terror.

Judith Mackrell, The Guardian, May 29 2013

 

Composer, pianist and software engineer Stephen Malinowski has created one brilliant solution to an age-old problem: how to communicate and understand what's going on in a piece of music, particularly if you don't know standard musical notation. Over the course of some forty years, he's honed what he calls his "Music Animation Machine" from a 20-foot printed scroll to the software and iPad apps he's created — but the results are art. (...) Through this visualization, you can start to follow and understand the composer's dazzlingly dense interplays of melody, instrumentation and the relationships between the instruments.

Anastasia Tsioulcas, NPR - Deceptive Cadence, May 27 2013

 

From Stephen Malinowski, a truly amazing — and I say this as a very serious musician — animation of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. With bright, sharp dabs of color showing the shape of the music, as you listen. The piece comes to life before your eyes. It’s like score reading for people who don’t read scores, though in many ways it’s better than reading the score. Reading the score gives you musical information; Malinowski gives the impact of the music. I learned things I hadn’t quite been aware of — the persistence, in just about every melodic line, of something like the contours of the opening bassoon solo. And the persistence, too, of the crunch! offbeats in the first fast section of the piece, so famous in themselves, but also echoed by sudden jabs throughout the score.

Greg Sandow, Artsjournal "On the future of classical music", May 24 2013

Viewer Feedbacks

Intrinsic Impact

Captivation

"My teacher showed me this. We all fell silent and just listened. When he said he was going to stop it, we all jumped up to shout 'no!', 'don't!'"

Emotional Enhancement

“Watching these videos takes me to a special place I can't describe.” SirPKKnight, May 2012

Intellectual Enhancement

“This is the 1st time I've been able to appreciate this work by Stravinsky. By watching the visualization of his music, I can finally understand the organization is this chaotic sounding piece. Thank you!” Y. Samuel Arai, June 2013

Translation

“I'm an artist - a visual person. I've always been in awe of JS Bach, yet never could quite "understand" any music - because it's audial, not visual. Love your channel because it translates the world of music theory into the visual language I understand. tHANKS :-)” Macpduff, July 2013

Sustainability

“thanks for all of these videos I started listening to classical music when I was 13 because of your videos now I'm 16 I'm learning this piece to be played on a synthesiser so thanks for all you've done” neogeo53, January 2013  

 

“My favourite chanel on youtube without a doubt. Thank you so, so much Smalin. I can honestly say I've gotten to love classical music because of your videos and am now learning the piano myself. Great work Sir.” M0untainS0undMusic, May 2013


Children and Teenagers

Little Children

„My 7-year-old son, Stefan, and I have been playing and enjoying your animations and performances since he was 3. I can't tell you how deeply they've enriched our lives.“

„My three-year-old daughter requests it daily.“

Teenagers

“Haha, I'm 13 and the previous version of this video was the one that got me into classical music. Thanks a bunch!”RTHettish, July 2013

 

“It is pretty impressive when a mom (Me) can come downstairs at 2:30 am and find my son not playing GTA5 or Skyrim, or some other form of video game, but instead happily watching your videos.......for real.” avocet196, October 2013

 

More viewer feedbacks here.

 

Why is it so effective?

Switching attention. It's true that the MAM draws/focuses/holds listener's/viewer's attention, but it does more than that: it helps them switch their attention to relevant parts of the music. A naive listener doesn't know what to listen for, and this "not knowing" is not a single, simple thing, but a complex, varied thing. A person who listens to just one thing (e.g. the melody) in a complex piece of music is going to miss a lot --- not because they're not paying attention, but because they're not shifting their attention. The MAM provokes a listener to stop focusing on one thing and look elsewhere. This happens in part because it shows the future: the listen can look ahead, see what's coming in the part they were focused on, and then feel free to see what else might be going on (rather than having to stay focused on the part they were tracking). And, it happens because our "peripheral vision" is powerful, and even if we're focusing on one part of the visual display, other parts will catch our attention.

 

Priming. Many people comment that the MAM shows the future, and that this is useful, but why is it? An important aspect of it is priming: When we are prepared to perceive something (even just a little bit prepared), we perceive it more clearly, it makes a stronger impression, we remember it better, it's more meaningful.

 

Strength of response. The benefits the MAM provides can be summarized as "increasing the strength of the response." This is something that can be measured, both by subjective testing (asking a listener/viewer to report their experience), and by objective means (brain scans). It would be interesting to get people who are doing brain research to measure the response to music with and without the MAM. The stronger the response, the greater the enjoyment.

About, History and Outlook

The Music Animation Machine (MAM), an animated graphical score created by musician and software engineer Stephen Malinowski, has captivated many people.  His YouTube channel "smalin," which primarily features classical music, has received over 120 million views and countless grateful comments from people of all ages and backgrounds.  Viewers who cannot read music express their pleasure at understanding aspects of the music that were previously out of reach, and many, including trained musicians, report a heightened degree of concentration, leading to a deeper, more compelling experience.

 

The reason for this is that the MAM is a score designed for listeners.  As in a conventional score, the pitch, timing, duration, and instrument of every note in the piece is represented. However, instead of arbitrary symbols for notes, we have colorful shapes that relate intuitively to the structure of the music.  These shapes create easily-recognizable patterns that pass by from right to left and light up in the "now", which is always in the center. This leads the viewer to see patterns in the future, so that what is about to be heard can be predicted and anticipated.  As the patterns are also visible in the past, the visual representation enhances auditory memory. The MAM is thus a "GPS for music," a dynamic, context-sensitive view of the listener's musical surroundings, highlighting the features that are relevant at the moment, providing an easy-to-follow "route" through complex compositions.

 

Violinist and conductor Etienne Abelin encouraged Malinowski to develop a version of the MAM that could be used in live performance. Premiered in 2012 with the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra, it has subsequently been featured or will be featured in performances in the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Alte Oper Frankfurt, the Festival Van Vlaanderen Gent, the Morelia Festival Mexico, the Sounds of Childhood Festival Israel, the Ynight - Classical in Club series in Switzerland, and the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. At the center of live performances of the MAM is a synchronization tool that was specifically designed by Malinowski: it’s a crank that is in fact an old Volkswagen window handle. Often the audience is invited to learn how to play this tool in intermissions and even to perform a short piece together with the musicians of the night.

The MAM has been exhibited in museum installations, presented at TEDx events in Amsterdam and Zurich, and used for Apps such as Biophilia by pop singer and trendsetter Bjoerk and the Wagner Files by the Gebrueder Beetz.  It has received favorable reviews in publications such as The Guardian, Huffington Post and NPR.

 

Increasing interest by educators on all levels, record labels and presenters point to the appeal of MAM and the potential for further development and research: how can new and even better ways to express essential musical elements such as rhythm, harmonic progression, melodic gesture, timbre, dynamics, tension/release be developed – informed by the science of perception and cognition, inter-sensory integration or object recognition? How could the integration of 3D provide even more immersive and transparent viewing/listening experiences? How can the perception process of anticipation, experience of the moment and memory get even more refined and varied? What graphical design options can still be developed?

 

We have only scratched the surface of what is possible.

 

More information here.

Contact

For talks, presentations, workshops contact in Europe: e.abelin@mac.com

in the USA: stephen@musanim.com

 

For live performances with the Music Animation Machine, contact: e.abelin@mac.com

For installations, screenings etc., contact: stephen@musanim.com