Beethoven gets really animated

Beethoven gets really animated


norman lebrecht

December 08, 2019

See what you think about this.

I found it oddly hypnotic.



  • M McAlpine says:

    Disney did something similar with Bach many years ago in Fantasia. Frankly I find things like this unwatchable

  • John Borstlap says:

    Nice! Maybe something for deaf people. But not for Beethoven himself, because the relationships between te notes are not indicated, which is the case with traditional notation. This is fonetic rendering.

  • RW2013 says:

    I’d rather read the score…

    • Chris says:

      I tried to follow Bach’s Christmas Oratorio in the Alte Oper Frankfurt on Friday evening. Tricky when the auditorium lighting is dimmed almost too much to see even one’s hand in front of one’s face. Otherwise I end to agree with you RW2013

      • Petros LInardos says:

        Has anyone tried follow an electronic score on a tablet in concert? I am tempted. I used to bring printed scores at concerts until, well, I started needing more light to be able to read. Those of you who are over 45 will understand…

        • Bone says:

          Brother, leaving my readers somewhere is my #1 fear nowadays. 50 has been a complete undoing of my priorities: not consuming much liquid after 7 pm is of utmost importance unless I feel like getting out of bed every two hours all night.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Please don’t do that Petros, as the light disturbs other audience members.

    • nimitta says:

      The score is wondrous and of course essential, but I find this lovely, nimble animation a delightful synesthetic complement to the flyspecks on paper.

      To analogize: the pleasures of traversing a beautiful countryside on foot hardly cancel those of experiencing the same terrain on a bicycle, or motorcycle, or from a hot air balloon.

      One last note here: those who would claim to represent the composer’s point of view on the subject sound at least slightly mad, since he died almost a century before such realizations became conceivable.

  • Guy who does this is named Smalin. Go here:
    He is brilliant. I have used his site to teach people about fugues and canons (and the majesty of Bach) to people who visualize better than they audio-ize. Great for kids, too. My grandkids are mesmerized by the Stravinsky ‘Rite.’

  • Sheila says:

    Was ready to dismiss it as “nonsense” but found it quite beautiful and fascinating, especially the colours representing various clefs or instruments. Kind of mesmerising, but too much would be deleterious for my listening. I would prefer not to listen like this again.

  • Marc-André Roberge says:

    For detailed information on these animations:

    Background (Stephen Malinowski and the Music Animation Machine)

    Beethoven String Quartets (notes on animated graphical scores)

  • Brian says:

    “Smalin” (uploader’s youtube handle) has been doing this for years. He’s a musician who performs some of the piano works he’s visualized. He also wrote the program that does it all.

  • Stan Collins says:

    This is a helpful tool to show motivic development to people with little musical background, especially those who don’t read music. It also links auditory and visual art. It can also be used to show the relation between math and music, specifically linear algebra. The biggest obstacle to appreciating complexly structured music is that the listener doesn’t know what to listen for. It doesn’t occur to most people to listen to music motivically, so they don’t get the composer’s point. When we experience art from the perspectives of more than one discipline, we see the mind at work. Classical music will thrive if we can relate to it as fundamental to human expression.

  • Cassandra says:

    I can’t stop watching.
    Mesmerising, yes.

    One more time …

  • Alexander Tarak says:

    Man!!! I’m tripping….

  • Charles LG Conlon says:

    Would work better with the Mendelssohn octet, I think.

  • Peter says:

    A pleasant gimmick. Microsoft music player did something vaguely similar about twenty years ago.

  • Voxnemo says:

    One of my favourites is this:
    It just “flows”, like the muic does..

    • John Borstlap says:

      Brilliant…. and it comes close – metaphorically – to how composers imagine their music in their mind: as flexible items floating in space, not hindered by notation. The fixing of the material within a notational system is a next stage.

  • mmm says:

    You should do magic mushrooms then…

  • FrauGeigerin says:

    This is for this generation, the millenials who cannot enjoy anything, including music, without continuous visual stimuli.

    Very sad indeed, and an explanation why film-music concerts, film projections with live music and the like are always sold out: the same people who cannot sit through a 25 minute Richard Strauss piece can sit through 2 hours of film music when they have the memory of the image.

  • Karl says:

    They did that kind of thing at the Boston Youth Philharmonic in Symphony Hall a few years ago. I don’t think it will catch on.

  • Inasmuch as I don’t read musical scores very often I find that visual displays like this give me additional insight into the music.

  • Stephen R Gould says:

    My favourite example of score animation is this version of Rite of Spring: