Off the Staff

An experiment in visualizing notes from music scores

Seeing music

I can't read music but I can parse it. The talent of reading music has always escaped me which is a little ironic considering I grew up in a musical family. However, I've always enjoyed how sheet music looks so I took a shot at visualizing the notes from musical scores and the result is this series of posters. How they were made »


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How they were made

Each dot represents a note in the score. Pitch is indicated by the distance from the center of the image, while the time at which the note occurs is given by the angle from the 12 o'clock position. The size of the dot indicates the duration of the note, and the color of the dot is different for each instrument. The colors of the dots are different for each instrument, and are selected from a complementary palette designed to reflect the theme of the piece.

Scores for single instruments use a single color. See Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star for a simple example below.

How images for single instruments were made

Scores for multiple instruments use color as an added dimension to differentiate instruments. See the variation on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star below. Single color versions are also available.

How images for multiple instruments were made

Continue reading » More about how they were made including early versions and tools used.


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