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A Fish-eye View of the Music Animation Machine

One way that the Music Animation Machine score doesn't correspond to the experience of hearing music is that it doesn't emphasize the importance of the "now" moment. When you are listening to music, what you are hearing at the present moment is much more present, more tangible, more real, than what has come before or what you're anticipating. In the M.A.M. score, the present, past, and future are given much more equal weight; the "now" moment is indicated only by its central position on the screen and the highlighting of presently-sounding notes.

A possible variation of the display that would emphasize the "now" would look like this:

This looks kinda cool, but the disadvantages are many:

  • You can't see the past and future as clearly.
  • It's harder to see repetitions when they aren't the same size.
  • Because the vertical dimension is distorted, it's difficult to see whether two notes are at the same pitch.
  • The display with grid lines is cluttered and distracting, but without them, it's hard to see whether a melody is going up or down (and even with them, it's hard; notice that the top, yellow, voice in the example is actually descending, though it looks like it is rising).
  • The screen real estate at the four corners of the screen is wasted.
  • It takes a lot more compute power to generate this display.

    The last of these disadvantages has been the main reason I haven't experimented with this beyond the pen-and-paper stage.