Music Skyline
  • Yang Kyu Lim
  • Jin Wan Park

The project

Sergei Rachmaninov’s piano concerto No.2 C minor, op.18 is a masterpiece that overcomes the depression and block phenomenon of the failure of Rachmaninoff Symphony No.1. This successful Piano Concerto No. 2 has been performed by numerous performers and is still loved by classical enthusiasts to this day.

This work, Music Skyline, is a visualization result that digitally analyzes the first movement of Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 2 C minor, op. 18 and uses the data to express the characteristics of each performer.

A typical example of visualizing music is a score. However, it is very difficult to include all the musical information on the score. Especially, it is not able to put all kinds of musical performance in the score. This work is a visualization created to express musical interpretation or personality that appears differently, even if the same score is played for each of these performers. First, we used record file from Vladimir Davidovich Ashkenazy (1937 – now) and Moscow Philharmonic. And Second, we used Evgeny Igorevitch Kissin (1971 – now)’s, which is now known as the best piano record.

The program made by own will analyze the musical characteristics of both files. Technically, we build a program using the Fast Fourier Transform library from the JAVA language. It shows the difference between the two players through the principle of measuring the time between notes.
The first movement is the Moderato, but the actual performers do not play at exactly that speed. Especially at every moment, the speed of music changes dynamically by their interpretation of music. We defined the musical characteristics of individual players as same as fingerprints. And we found the skyline that could be called the fingerprint of the city. On various media often display the skyline of a city to set a location. We think of the characteristics of the musician as one big city and set the computer to draw a skyline with data. As each building in the city is built according to the passage of time, the shape of the skyline is completed. As the performance of the pianists progresses, the musical interpretation piled up as a building is laid out as a skyline.

There is no city in the world has the same shape of the skyline. There is no musician who plays and interprets equally the same. As musical interpretations accumulate, their musical characteristics create the skyline. Eventually they become architects who build various cities through music. Through these various skylines, we perceive the diversity of musical interpretations with eyes, not with the ear. In the future, we plan to explore the development as a necessary tool for music education.

The artists

Yang Kyu Lim is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Advanced Imaging Science, Multimedia, and Film at Chung-Ang University, South Korea. He received his second Master’s degree in Culture Technology in 2012 from KAIST, Daejeon. Further, he received his first Master’s and his Bachelor’s degree in Music and Education in 2007 and 2004, respectively, from The Liszt School of Music Weimar, Germany. His research interests include musical education and media art through computers and smart devices. His earlier research was published in the proceedings of NIME 2014 and HCII 2016 and by The Korean Society of Media & Arts.

Jin Wan Park is a professor at the School of Integrative Engineering at Chung-Ang University, South Korea. Further, he worked as an art director (CWI, NJ, 1998–2003). He received his MFA in Computer Animation and Interactive Media from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1998. The same year, his animation BUG was selected for the Electronic Theater Program of the animation festival at SIGGRAPH (1998). He received his Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from Chung-Ang University in 1995. As an artist and scientist, he has focused his research on new forms of artistic expression that are only possible through scientific research. His latest work is ‘Visual History with Chosun Dynasty Annals (Art Paper, SIGGRAPH 2016)’ with Leonardo’s cover.