YouTube smalin/musanim channel highlights by year
I've made over a thousand animated graphical score videos
Bach, Fantasia and Fugue in A minor (BWV 904)
Bach, Italian Concerto (BWV 971) 3. Presto
Byrd, Passamezzo Pavana
Inglot, The Leaves bee greene.
Scarlatti, Sonata in B minor (K 27)
Scarlatti, Sonata in B-flat major, K 248
Scarlatti, Sonata in E major, K 531
Rameau, Les Sauvages (on guitars)
(currently 972 on the smalin channel,
and 380 on the musanim channel),
and I know that if I can't keep track of them, it's unreasonable to expect that of anybody else.
So, to make this easier all around, I've made this list of those that are notable for one reason or another.
Some of these are big projects (many movements, many months of work), some are unusual,
some turned out especially well, and some were just very popular with viewers.
The only thing they all have in common is that I've found occasion to mention them to people from time to time,
and want to keep track of them so that it's easier to remember to recommend them in the future.
There's another page that's a chronological list of techniques I used in YouTube videos (and other milestones),
and there's this page with more general background on the project.
Two Beethoven videos of note: his Rondo a capriccio, op.129 ("Rage Over a Lost Penny"),
and the Rondo from his violin Concerto.
Uirapuru Song is a visualization of bird song.
is notable because it's the earliest known example of music composed specifically for keyboard.
My collaboration with Remy Le Boeuf
(Vignettes 8 and 1 for solo saxophone) was very satisfying.
Members of the Music Educators Creating Online Learning
gave me many good suggestions;
the first of these that I worked on was Ligeti's Hungarian Rock.
Early this year, Colin Booth released his recording of the
Second Book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier,
and gave me permission to base animated graphical scores on it;
I worked on this steadily through 2020 and completed it early in 2021;
here's the playlist,
and here are some other harpsichord pieces I worked on in 2020:
I first heard recordings by pianist Boris Giltburg in April,
and immediately wrote him to asked whether he'd like to collaborate.
He had a big project planned for 2020: all 32 Beethoven piano sonatas;
so far, I've used his recordings for
No. 1 in F minor (opus 2 no. 1) and
No. 7 in D major (opus 10 no. 3); I hope to do more.
As a break from Beethoven this year, Giltburg recorded Bach's 15 three-part inventions (aka sinfonias);
his performances can currently be viewed on the Gramophone website;
I will be adding my animated graphical scores to this playlist as I complete them.
As good as Giltburg is at playing Bach and Beethoven, his specialty is Rachmaninov;
so far, I've done one video based on that: Etudes-tableaux (opus 39) 4. Allegro assai
The ORA Singers
commissioned me to make an animated graphical score for Thomas Tallis'
monumental 40-voice motet Spem in alium as part of their
TALLIS 2020 project.
I made about twenty experimental versions,
from which they selected two to publish.
I'd been doing videos of Bach's organ sonatas for several years;
in 2020 I completed the set
(playlist) with recordings by
(previous performers were Anthony Newman, David Yearsley, and myself).
Other Bach organ music (by BWV):
Most of that Bach organ music came from the Netherlands Bach Society's
All of Bach project.
I've been using their recordings a lot; in 2020 I did these movements from cantatas (and motet):
This video based on the
first movement of Bach's 3rd Brandenburg Concerto turned out well;
I also did ones for the
3rd movements of his 6th Brandenburg Concerto.
Viola da gamba player
gave me permission to use recordings by him and
I'd previously worked with keyboard recordings of Bach's Art of Fugue,
but they're wonderful on
so I eagerly started adding to my collection.
I also made videos based on his recordings from gamba sonatas by
J. S. Bach and his son
C. P. E. Bach.
I've been a fan of Brahms' F minor piano quintet for decades,
and therefore jumped at the chance to use the recording by
Joyce Yang and
the Alexander String Quartet in my videos (here's the playlist).
Another 2020 Alexander collaboration was this Mozart clarinet quintet movement.
Other Mozart in 2020 included the
Lacrimosa from the Requiem,
the first movement of the K 515 string quintet,
and perhaps his best known piano sonata (No. 16, C major, K 545): Allegro,
I also had a lot of fun with Vivaldi's Concerto in D minor and
Summer (from the Four Seasons), and
Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, opus 21, 2. Larghetto.
One of my earliest inspirations was Oskar Fischinger's Study Nr. 7 on Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5
(it's inspired a lot of people),
and for many years afterwards, a sense of respect and reverence kept me
from even considering working on it myself, but this year I gave it a go.
(Another orchestral piece I animated this year—for Halloween—was Saint-Saëns'
These pieces from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite are in a similar vein:
2020 was a big year for collaborations and commissions;
in addition to the ORA Singers' Spem in alium (above) project, I worked on these:
Michael Barry, Exercise in Delirium,
(and I describe how I made this video here)
Danny Clay, Broken Birds V
Daniel Mulhern, Flow State Vestida 3
In 2020, I designed a new renderer (which I named VRingTheta) that turned out to be
effective for smoothly-moving vocal and instrumental (brass, wind, bowed string) lines.
I used this on the Barry commission, and for several pieces of Renaissance polyphony:
Giovanni Coperario, Fantasia a4 in A minor
Giovanni Coperario, Fantasia a6 'al folgorante sguardo'
Giovanni Gabrieli, Beata es Virgo Maria
Giovanni Gabrieli, Sonata Pian e Forte
Giovanni Gabrieli, Canzon II a 4
Giovanni Gabrieli, Canzon IV a 4
Orlando Gibbons, Fantasia 2 a 6
John Jenkins, Fantasia a 6 in C minor
John Dowland, Earl of Essex Galliard
I have a special affection for the rackett,
an instrument most people haven't heard of (let alone heard),
so when I came across this performance of Giorgio Mainerio's
I knew I had to do my part to spread the word.
Because of the pandemic, the Sphaera Mundi Orquestra
did a virtual performance of
Telemann's Quixote Burlesque, Attack of the Windmills.
They are an exceptional ensemble,
and I also collaborated with them on this video of Handel's
Concerto Grosso in F major
(n.b. this is a rare video in which both the performance and the animation are shown).
When my beloved composition teacher, fellow fugue lover, and mensch
Stanley Dale Krebs died,
I wrote this fugue in his memory.
2020 featured additions to the Canons page,
including a rhythmically-vigorous one by Giovanni Dettori,
and a complex double canon in retrograde by Igor Stravinsky.
In early 2019, the Alexander String Quartet and I agreed that we ought to collaborate on
all of Beethoven's string quartets
in recognition of the 250th anniversary of his birth, and a lot of my time in 2019 went toward that.
I also worked on string quartets by Mozart and Haydn and other composers;
here are a couple that turned out especially well IMO:
Mozart, String Quartet No. 14 in G major ("Spring" K 387), 4. Molto Allegro
Bartok, String Quartet No. 2, 2. Allegro molto capriccioso
(Incidentally: in 2020, I completed videos for all of Haydn's Opus 20 quartets).
I'd done videos of Pachelbel's Canon over the years; in 2019 I revisited it with a version I think is the best so far.
These two turned out to be especially flashy and effective:
Grieg, Piano Concerto in A minor (opus ) 1. Allegro molto moderato
This year I met and began collaborating with Bruce Levingston, starting with Glass, Etudes for Piano, Book 1, No. 6
When I first heard this piece (at the fifth concert of the Opus Project),
I wanted to visualize it; finally, I did:
Rachmaninoff, Les Larmes
I'd long admired this piece: Ravel, La valse
This piece (along with the 4th Brandenburg Concerto) was what inspired this project: Bach, Chaconne in D minor
This piece was long magical for me: Josquin des Prez, Ave Maria (virgo serena, motet)
I did a lot of new things in this one: Chopin, Fantaisie in F minor, opus 49
This was very popular: Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 21 in C major (K. 467), Andante
A big project for this year was Bach's Art of Fugue, based on recordings by Kimiko Ishizaka (playlist, background).
Beethoven's Grosse Fuge several times over the years; this version is (IMO) the most successful.
This was a big year for Vivaldi:
Four Seasons, Winter
Flautino Concerto in C major, 1st movement
A Rain of Tears ("Sento in seno")
A big project I worked on this year was the First book of Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier,
performed by Kimiko Ishizaka (playlist).
It was Christine's idea to overlay each variation over the previous ones: Mozart, Variations on "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman" (Twinkle, Twinkle)
(This video was also in the in the Tough Art exhibit at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, as was Pachelbel, Canon in D.)
I made new versions of some previously-popular videos:
Beethoven, Symphony 7, 2. Allegretto
Mozart, Symphony No. 40 in G minor (K. 550) 1. Allegro
Debussy, Prelude to 'The Afternoon of a Faun'
Debussy, Clair de lune
I really should do more of these: Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor (opus 37) 1. Allegro con brio
This is not a music video: Pythagoras, Pythagorean Theorem
Christine (we later married) suggested I do this wonderful piece: Grainger, Children's March
(In 2016, this video was included in the Tough Art exhibit at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.)
To celebrate the 10th anniversary of my first YouTube videos, I made a new version of Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor
I did several videos of Sousa marches this year (playlist);
in this one, I tried a technique of compressing octave doublings to reduce clutter: Sousa, Semper Fidelis
No surprise that this was popular: Mozart, Sonata for Two Pianos (K 448) 1. Allegro
This one is unusual in that percussive rhythm plays a big part: Rivera, Cumba-Quin
This is a cool piece and the video was deservedly popular: Mozart, Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor (K. 466) 1. Allegro
In 2012 I began working on Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of its 1913 premiere.
J. S. Bach's Brandenburg Concerto 4 in G major was what originally motivated me to make animated graphical scores,
so I paid a hefty license fee to use a good recording for this video.
My experiments with connecting notes with curves (that started in 2011) led to Debussy, Syrinx,
... and my experiments with Chromadepth 3D led to Tallis, Spem in alium
I liked the way this turned out: Ligeti, 6 Bagatelles, 3. Allegro grazioso
The animation is nothing special, but the singing is: Foreign Lander
And these were very popular:
Bach, Fugue in G minor ("Little" BWV)
Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik
Mozart, Symphony 25 in G minor (K. 183) 1. Allegro
Schubert, Piano Trio in E-flat major, 2.
Chopin, Fantasie-Impromptu, opus 66
A big project started this year: Bach's Goldberg Variations, played by Colin Booth; here's the playlist.
I did some more Debussy: Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum and
Prelude to 'The Afternoon of a Faun'
This was also when I did a composition/performance by a well-known, non-classical artist: Wick, Aero
I got a little more into playing the organ, with Bach, Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, BWV 582 and
Bach, Ricercar a 6 (from The Musical Offering)
And these two videos turned out to be very popular with viewers:
Mendelssohn, Violin Concerto E minor, 1. Allegro molto appassionato
Mozart, Symphony 41, ("Jupiter," K. 551) 4. Allegro
The biggest project of the year was Beethoven's 9th Symphony; here's the playlist.
This was also when I started collaborating with pianist James Boyk, with Debussy, Reflets dans l'eau
This was a turning point year for me in several ways.
The key was that I retired from my "day job" so that I could work on this project full-time.
This gave me time to take stock and start exploring the ideas that inspired me in the first place:
having the score "come alive" by moving in ways that reflected what the music was doing.
This led to the "balls" animation I used in Debussy, Arabesque #1, Piano Solo
I also used this for a Chopin nocturne: Chopin, Nocturne in E-flat Major, opus 9 no. 2
Both of these were very popular with viewers.
Another popular one was Vivaldi, Winter, Four Seasons (Allegro)
2010 was also the year I did my first videos based on Beethoven string quartets:
including his Grosse Fuge, opus 133 (about which more later)
And, I experimented with some new technology, including a vocoder ... Bach, Fugue in C-sharp minor, WTC I, BWV 849 ...
... and 3D glasses ... Albeniz, Asturias (Leyenda) (see this for background on these special glasses)
This was when I first developed a system for synchronizing my animated graphical scores to existing recordings.
(Prior to this, I could only make the animation and the audio from the same MIDI data.) The first piece I did that way was:
Bach, Air ("on the G string") from the Third Orchestral Suite in D major, BWV 1068
I also made videos for two of the most iconic instrumental pieces by Bach and Beethoven:
Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 3, 1. Allegro
Beethoven, Symphony 5, 1. Allegro
I'd always been a fan of this piece, so I did that too: Sousa, Stars and Stripes Forever
And, I continued to make a few videos showing my hands playing:
Bach, Fugue in C Major, WTC I, BWV 846
Bach, Art of Fugue, Contrapunctus 9
Beethoven, Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor (opus 27 no. 2, "Moonlight") 1. Adagio sostenuto
It was around this time that I started making videos that showed me playing the music, like this: Beethoven, Fur Elise
This is the year that I got some new electronic instruments to use in my videos.
One was a sampled fortepiano, which I used in Bach, Fugue in G minor ("Little", BWV 578)
The other was an Ahlborn-Galanti pipe organ module, which I used in Bach, Organ Sonata No. 3 in D minor (BWV 527) 3. Allegro
Chopin, Nocturne in D-flat major, opus 27 #2 is my favorite Chopin nocturne, and I've yet to do it justice.
Before the internet, I shared my work by showing it to people in person (on my computer),
making VHS videotapes (and, later, DVDs), and through Classic Arts Showcase.
When YouTube first appeared in 2005, I didn't know whether it would be an effective way to distribute my videos,
and decided to give it a try with some videos I'd made in the past, including:
Debussy, Clair de lune (which I'd made at a friend's request a few years earlier), and
Bach, Toccata and Fugue in D minor, BWV 565
(which I'd made in 1996 for a commission).
These turned out to be the two of my most-viewed videos of all time (though it took a few years before YouTube really caught on).