To whom it may concern:
I have been using Stephen Malinowski's Music Animation Machine ever since a
faculty colleague with no musical background whatever first showed it to me.
I have been teaching music history to University High School's tenth graders for
the past 35 years in an interdisciplinary, team-taught course entitled Western
Civilization: History of the Arts. It is a graduation requirement, and thus consists
of a hundred 15/16-year-olds with a wide variety of musical backgrounds, from
conservatory-trained virtuosos to students with no musical experience whatever.
When I introduced Mozart's Symphony No. 40 to the class using the Animation
Machine, I could almost see lightbulbs lighting up above the heads of the most
Stephen's animation of a Bach fugue creates a "Where's Waldo?" kind of hunt for
the fugue subject, visually apparent to all audiences. His Mozart symphony makes
subtle changes in orchestration, motivic development, and the larger structure of
sonata form perfectly clear. As a student told me today, having seen the Mozart
animation in class, "I didn't understand last night's reading [about sonata form],
but now I get it."
Stephen's attention to detail, his choice of performances, and aesthetic presentation
make his Music Animation Machine one of the most effective teaching tools at our
disposal. To the untrained listener, looking at a musical score is a bewildering and
forbidding experience of seeing arcane symbols in black-and-white on a five-line
grid. However, given an animation, the same listener can identify the difference
between rhythm and tempo, cadences, thematic repetition, orchestration,
differences in pitch, orchestral families—all in real time.
At the risk of hyperbole, I believe that Stephen Malinowski deserves a place
alongside Guido d'Arezzo and Philippe de Vitry in the history of musical notation,
and is the first to devise a successful notation system for the enjoyment and
edification of listeners, not performers.
Ph.D. Instructor in Music History and Western Civilization, San Francisco University High School
Professor of Music History, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
San Francisco Opera
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra