Visualizing Chopin with Musanim

If you don’t “get” classical music, read on. Musanim.com can help.

One of the challenges classical music presents to many people is that it’s not always immediately clear what’s going on. Composers write on many different levels, and often it’s not just the melody that’s important (which may or may not be on the top), but the bass and sometimes how both play against inner voices.

Take Chopin’s Etude in A minor, Op. 25 No. 1* as an example. Here’s the opening pages of the score.

There’s a lot of notes there — but not all of them are of equal importance. Even folks who can read music can have a difficult time trying to sort it all out.

In the video below, Maurizio Pollini plays the etude as the camera follows the score.

It’s helpful — but only if you read music.

That’s what makes Musanim’s site so brilliant. It’s the brainchild of Stephen Malinowski and it animates the music in a fashion far removed from Disney’s “Fantasia” but very close to the graphics of the printed score.

Watch the musanim video of this Chopin etude, and you’ll see the melody (red), the bass line (blue) and the contrapuntal inner voice (purple) leap out from the accompanying patters (teal and yellow).

Dense structure is almost a given for a classical composition. And the more you listen, the easier it is to hear. Musanim’s videos provide a visual approach to the music that can make those structures apparent even to first-time listeners. When you hear the structure, the music makes sense. And when the music makes sense, it can move you emotionally. And that — as it is with virtually every other genre of music — is what it’s all about.

*Don’t be put off by all that nomenclature. The practice over the past few centuries is to assign opus numbers to each publication by a composer. Think of them as volume numbers. So “Opus 25” is simply the 25th work or collection of works that Chopin published. In this case, it was a set of 12 piano etudes, or keyboard exercises. Each etude was numbered, so the piece in question was the first out of that set of 12. Opus 25, No. 1 is just a method of uniquely identifying this from among the 25 etudes Chopin wrote (three of which were in the key of A minor).

More Recent Posts

  • Joseph Bodin de Boismortier Chamber Music all business

    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Sometimes it’s easy to forget that music is a business — even classical music. It’s something Joseph Bodin de Boismortier always remembered. And it made him wealthy. Boismortier was active in the early 1700s and a contemporary of Rameau. He was one of the first composers to be successful without a patron. Louis XV granted […]

  • Dec 19: WTJU Holiday Party and Vinyl Takeover at Potters Craft Cider

    Come celebrate the season with your favorite community radio station! On Thursday, December 19th, 6 – 9 p.m., WTJU is taking over Potter’s Craft Cider, at their grand new tasting room at 1350 Arrowhead Valley Rd, just a few minutes south of Charlottesville on Route 29. This year’s WTJU Holiday Party coincides with our Vinyl Takeover series, […]

  • The Celebratory Suites of Pancho Vladigerov

    Tags: , ,

    In Bulgaria, Pancho Vladigerov is almost considered the founder of classical music. Like Bedrich Smetana and Antonin Dvorak, he deftly blended his country’s folk music with Western classical traditions. And like those composers, he created music of both national and international appeal. The characteristic odd meters of Slavic folk music gives Vladigerov’s compositions a bubbling […]

  • Angela on the Arts stops by All That Jazz, Dec 5

    Trumpeter John D’earth and bass clarinetist Michelle Oliva will join Rus Perry on All That Jazz to present their new release “Within.”  Together with violist Bonnie Gordon, D’earth and Oliva make up the improvisational trio Angela On The Arts.

  • New Jazz Adds – 12/3/2019

    New Jazz Adds – 12/3/2019 Darren Barrett – The EVI Sessions – Mr. Steiner (Self-produced): “On Mr. Steiner, Barrett delves into the world of synthesis guru Nyle Steiner, credited for the invention of the EVI (Electronic Valve Instrument) as well as the EWI (Electronic Wind Instrument), made popular by saxophonist Michael Brecker. Created in the 70s, the […]

  • New Blues & Soul Adds – 12/3/2019

    New Blues & Soul Adds – 12/3/2019 New Blues: Diane Blue – Look For The Light (Regina Royale Records): “Ms. Blue is a soul-stirring vocalist, skillful harmonica player whose powerful delivery of Soul, Blues & R&B is captivating. Her performances are charismatic and heartfelt, whether fronting her own world-class band or singing alongside master Bluesman Ronnie […]