J. S. Bach Well-Tempered Clavier (animated graphical scores)
IntroductionMy first graphical score, hand-drawn in the 1970s, was of a piece by J. S. Bach,
and my first scrolling score was of a fugue from his Well-Tempered Clavier (WTC).
My work on the preludes and fugues of the WTC culminated with the 2016 collaboration with
Kimiko Ishizaka (Book I, piano) and the 2020 collaboration with Colin Booth (Book II, harpsichord).
I've assembed this page to document the project and serve as an index to the videos (on YouTube).
If you just want to watch them, the simplest way is via the playlists: Book I, Book II
If you are interested in a particular prelude or fugue, this will give you the link.
Please send me any questions about this project not answered here.
1985 first animated graphical score (Atari 800)The first computer I owned was an Atari 800, which I bought for this project.
It produced my first animated graphical score (of the A-flat major fugue of Book II of the WTC):
1990 first publication (1990 Demonstration Reel, VHS)Subsequent animated graphical scores were produced by software running on DOS, Windows, and Mac computers.
In 1990, at the encouragement of Edward Tufte, I produced my first VHS videotape ("Program 1" on this page).
It included the C-sharp minor fugue from WTC Book I.
2009 first WTC videos on YouTubeI published my first videos on YouTube (including my most viewed video to date, Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor
on December 10, 2005, but it wasn't until 2009 that I published the first YouTube video of a piece from the WTC:
2010 Vocoder experimentsIn 2010 I got a Roland VP-550 Vocal and Ensemble Keyboard (a type of vocoder), which I used to make videos for
several pieces from the WTC, my favorite of which is this:
2012 first non-piano-roll displayIn the years since 2010, my focus has been on developing new ways of displaying notes (other than
the piano-roll style I'd been primarily using). The first WTC piece using new note forms was this:
2013 live-synchronized MAMIn 2013 I developed a system for synchronizing my animations to live performances.
One of the first of this was given with harpsichordist Katherine Roberts Perl:
2016 Kimiko Ishizaka, Book I
In 2016, I made animated graphical scores for all the preludes and fugues in Book I of the WTC
I've used new techniques to highlight each piece's characteristic features.
In some, I focus on structural elements.
For example, I use an unrolling spiral (originally developed for Björk's
In some, I've taken my cue from expressive aspects of the music.
In the C-sharp major prelude,
I focused on the bouncy
In the E minor prelude, I put the dynamics of the piano tone under the microscope:
For the F major prelude, I go for straight video-game excitement.
And in some, I just go for the purely (or almost purely) ornamental.
I recently began experimenting with the Voronoi tessellation
In the C major prelude, I abandon the scrolling paradigm entirely, and let the repeating arpeggiation become the petals of a blooming mandala:
Book I thumbnails(Hover mouse without moving above a thumbnail for a few seconds to see name; click to watch video on YouTube.)
2020 Colin Booth, Book IIIn 2020 I collaborated with harpsichord maker/player Colin Booth on Book II (you can get the complete CD here).
Here is the full playlist, and here are thumbnails:
I hope to add more description for these.
All WTC videos on YouTubeMost of my WTC videos on YouTube feature performances by Kimiko Ishizaka and Colin Booth.
There is also one based on a recording by The Bach Players, and an alternate version of one of the
preludes performed by Andreas Zappe. The rest are by me, some showing my hands playing, some
made using the Roland VP-550 vocoder, some using the Conductor Program (aka tapper), and
some produced synthetically. In cases where there are multiple versions by Ishizaka or Booth, an
asterisk (*) indicates which one is included selected for the YouTube playlist.