Machinate: MIDI Music Illustrated


The Shape of Song converts MIDI files into graphic mappings of a song’s construction.

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.

Digital artist and data visualization designer Martin Wattenberg developed this Java based program which renders a graphic arch to connect repeated phrases of a musical composition. The result is an image that instantly conveys the complexity and variations within a song.

A simple search tool allows you to find a MIDI of your chosen artist or composer or select a song from the menu. Here’s what Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” looks like.


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