What does music look like? The Shape of Song is an attempt to answer this seemingly paradoxical question. The custom software in this work draws musical patterns in the form of translucent arches, allowing viewers to see--literally--the shape of any composition available on the Web. The resulting images reflect the full range of musical forms, from the deep structure of Bach to the crystalline beauty of Philip Glass.
View a range of still images taken from the program used in The Shape of Song.
About the method
A detailed description of the method behind the images.
Archival-quality print versions of the diagrams in this work are available through Bitforms Gallery.
Design advice - Joon Yu
Comments and help - Laura Wattenberg, Marek Walczak, Alina Plourde, Christiane Paul, Jonathan Feinberg.
Technical aid - Jonathan Feinberg
MIDI libraries - "Rogus McJava" by Ben Denckla and Patrick Pelletier
Funding - The Greenwall Foundation
And of course - Turbulence.org and Helen Thorington
About the artist
Martin Wattenberg is a New York-based digital artist whose work centers on the theme of mapping information. Recent pieces include Apartment, with Marek Walczak, shown at the Whitney's Data Dynamics exhibit and on the Turbulence web site, and WonderWalker, also in collaboration with Walczak. Wattenberg also works in the field of financial data visualization and is known for the SmartMoney.com Map of the Market. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C. Berkeley.