Heidi Frank

Scores Illustrated

See the music, Hear the art! Compose your own piano score as an abstracted art piece.


Drawing Machines

This project will result in the production of abstract music scores and drawings based on the MIDI signal received from a piano keyboard. Using Processing and the proMIDI library, the notes that are played on a piano, as well as the velocity with which they are pressed and sustained, will be captured and graphically projected on the screen in an abstract composition, mimicking a piano score.

Secondly, it is also intended to have the program capture images of the screen as it runs, in order to create a flipbook recording the progression of the final art piece.

In my Drawing Machines course, we were assigned a reading entitled "Drawing Densitites for Guitar" by Mick Barr. In this writing, the guitarist had created a set of abstract symbols and marks used to represent each of the musical notes he put together in his compositions. The end result was similar to hieroplyphics, creating more of an artistic drawing rather than a legible music score.

I really liked this idea, and also, I had taken many years of piano lessons a long time ago, so wanted to get back into music. This project was a means to explore both interests.

I feel the audience for this project can be anyone, but especially those with an interest in piano music.

User Scenario
The user will play something on the piano and watch their abstract musical score (or abstract drawing) being drawn on a large plasma screen hanging above the piano. Sample flipbooks (made prior to the ITP show) will be available as an example of physical artwork that can be created from the visual output.

The project consists of an electronic piano keyboard connected to a computer using a USB cable. A Processing program receives the MIDI signal from the connection and draws to the screen the visual display based on what notes are being played by the user.