Background (Stephen Malinowski and the Music Animation Machine)

Keyboard for playing the B-A-C-H theme


Let's start with the question "What are you doing?"
Here's what I've been doing recently, and and here here's what I was doing before 2010.

This chart may help you put my this project in perspective.

Most of my ideas come from the music itself, but these people (and others) have inspired me.

People ask "how long does it take you to make one of those?" and I hope this gives an answer.
They also ask "can you do this for other styles of music?" and I've taken a stab at explaining that.


Over the years, I've collected various techniques for visualizing music,
and I've written some explanations of my use of color (including the use of color to show harmony and tonality),
different methods of scrolling (including the use of multiple time scales), and the element of surprise.
I call the software modules that draw notes in a given style renderers; here is a list of some that I've made.
To give you a sense how fast this progresses, here is a list of the first use of various techniques in my YouTube videos.


Mostly, I use basic programming and math tools (e.g. compilers, MATLAB, Excel, Xcode) to make my animations,
but there are some things I've developed on my own that might be of interest to animators or software engineers;
here are some notes on how I produced particular videos,
a chart showing how I synchronize my animation to pre-existing audio,
and a discussion of why I don't use some kind of automatic pitch recognition to make my animations.


The most interesting part of my work is figuring out how to do new things.
Mostly, my progress is very incremental, but when a path of inquiry is
sustained enough to be worth the trouble of describing, I sometimes write up a page about it.
I've done this for my experiments in bowing, my exploration of Chromadepth 3D,
the steps that led to a pretty "variable ring" animation, and the development of the Voronoi renderer.


Most of my videos are of short pieces (or single movements of larger pieces), and I can complete them in a few days,
but sometimes, when I work on a bigger (or especially interesting) project, I write about it:

  • Chopin's opus 10, opus 25, and op. posth. Etudes
  • Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring
  • The first book of J. S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier
  • Beethoven's Grosse Fuge
  • Bach's The Art of Fugue (animation complete, but description IN PROGRESS)
  • Bach's Canon 4 from Bach's The Art of Fugue
  • Bach's Chaconne for solo violin (animation INCOMPLETE)

    Working with others

    I work alone most of the time, but I've done some projects with other animators, composers, musicians, and clients.
    Here is a list of my clients, here is a list of people I've collaborated with,
    and here is a portfolio of work I've done for clients or with collaborators.

    If you'd like to work with me, hire me, or help produce a particular project, read these:
    Collaborations and commissions, Underwriting, Work for hire ...
    ... and if you'd like to ask me to do a video on a particular piece of music, read this.

    If you'd like to support my work directly, consider contributing via Patreon.

    My partner Etienne Abelin does live performances using my technology;
    here's a page showing some shows he's done, and here's
    his web page if you'd like to contact him to arrange a show.

    Lastly, if you'd like to use my work in your project, please read this.


    I've categorized viewer responses to my videos into three types: people who say that
    they enjoy the videos, people who say that
    the videos are educational, and people who say that
    the videos helped them appreciate classical music.

    Teachers use my videos in their classes; here's what one of those had to say.

    One unusual reaction to my videos came from Japan!

    Here is a list of places my work has appeared in the public eye.


    The main repository of my work is YouTube.
    My main channel (smalin) is where I publish the first version of most videos.
    When I make an alternate version of a video, I post it on my alternate/overflow/remake channel (musanim).
    Videos designed to be viewed with Chromadepth 3D glasses are published on their own channel (musanim3D).

    If you want make your own animated graphical scores,
    see this how-to page and read about the freeware player that I published in 2006.

    For some pieces, I've published overview scores so that you can see the whole piece at once
    (there's also this one which is suitable for printing out).

    For studying musical tonality and harmony, try my Harmonizer program.

    For computer-assisted performance, read about the Conductor program.

    This page has a list of resources that I use in making my videos.