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Visualization of the Beach Boys’ Harmonies (2013)

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Still from Alexander Chen's graphical visualization of the Beach Boys' Harmonies.

Still from Alexander Chen’s graphical visualization of the Beach Boys’ Harmonies.

Alexander Chen is a New-York-based designer for Google and a musician.  While experimenting with visually representing notes, he was inspired by the relationship between the diameter of a church bell and its pitch, and transcribed the harmonies of a Beach Boys tune to create a visualization that represents each pitch by a circle with related diameter.  It’s a lovely, minimalist representation of complex harmonies.

Anyone want to weigh in on the significance of the rotation and the Y offset of the circles?  I believe the rotation represents key changes, but my musical theory is very, very rusty.  The dual X-axis circle locations at 1:47 sound like representations of the right and left stereo tracks – I’m hearing different voices in each ear as opposed to voices centered in the left and right tracks – but I’m not certain about the Y-axis offset during the five discrete circles at the start.

You can read more about this visualization, including some discussion by Chen, at Wired.


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