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Production Notes for J. S. Bach Fugue 1 (from Book I of the Well-Tempered Clavier)

Here's what I did to produce the Music Animation Machine video of this piece:

1  Score

I learned this piece from a conventional two-staff score, but once I had more or less worked out how to play it, I made an "open" score (one staff per voice of the fugue) so that I could see the motion of the parts more easily.  This version of the score can be downloaded here.

2  Practice

I'd played this piece since my early twenties, so I could pretty much play it when I started working on this video, but there was an articulation of the theme that I'd never learned to do throughout, so I worked on that until I could at least pretend to be playing it that way.

4  Set-up

Besides setting up the lights, microphones and cameras, the main piece of set-up for this project was to install a Moog PianoBar in my piano, so that I could record MIDI data from my playing.  The PianoBar is designed to be "temporarily" installed on a piano by sitting at the far end of the keys, just in front of the fall-board (the vertical piece that keeps you from seeing where the keys go inside).  This works okay for casual use, but it does take up some space, and since I tend to use the full length of the keys, I found myself bumping into it.  I removed the fallboard so that the PianoBar could be moved slightly further back, but I was still hitting it.

The PianoBar works by sensing the position of the tops of the keys, so to move it further back required extending the tops of the keys.  Piano technician Larry Riley kindly gave me some white key-top material, which I marked ...

... and cut on a band saw, along with some pieces of ebony for the black keys ...

... which I glued onto the keys ...

Here's another view, showing how you can now see into the piano ...

One side-effect of this is that the action of the instrument is much more audible to me when I play.

5  Recording

In the first pass of the recording process, two video cameras recorded my hands and a mic recorded the sound of the piano.  In the following passes, I listened to the recording of the first pass and played one voice of the fugue at a time, while recording both the audio of the piano and also the MIDI from the PianoBar installed in the instrument.

6  Rendering

The scrolling bar-graph was rendered (from the MIDI data) as individual frames (.png files) with my custom RenderMAM software.

7  Conventional Notation Score

Screenshots of the score in the notation program Sibelius (in "Panaroma" view) were stiched together into a single image with the Matlab program I wrote (to do this with Für Elise).

8  Assembly

I imported the video footage from the camcorders into Adobe Premier (as .avi files), assembled that, the audio (.wav file), the bar-graph frames, and the conventional score, and exported the result as a movie.