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A whole new Rite of Spring seen in animated video

Wikimedia Commons

Classical music fans who like a little visual to go with their orchestra may enjoy this video featuring an animated graphical score of Igor Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, Part 1: Adoration of the Earth. 2013 is the centennial of this classic piece of 20th century composition.

The orchestral work by the Russian-born, American-based 20th century classical composer debuted in Paris in 1913 and caused a near-riot among audience members for its avant-garde nature.

For his animation of the piece Jay Bacal created the audio while Stephen Malinowski rendered the symphonic piece using virtual instrument software by Vienna Symphonic Library. The result is a visual buffet. Things really get rolling around 9:30 but don’t skip the build-up.


Each shape in the video file corresponds to a family of instruments. The shapes linger on-screen based on the duration of the players’ performances. A Rite of Spring segment with an extended horn performance features pulsing stars of vibrant red flaring across the bottom of the screen. A parallel staccato drum beat appears as recurring blue boxes above the red pulses. As instruments are added to the orchestration the visual gets more complex. Producer Jay Bacal encourages viewing the detailed animation on the highest resolution screen for maximum impact. Like part1 of the animation? Here’s part2.

The whole effect of taking Stravinsky’s work and setting each family of instruments to a different color reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a colleague who said he sees colors when he hears music. The condition is known as synesthesia and is said to aid artistic types during the creative process. If you are average like me and don’t experience colors when you hear music the animated Stravinsky can help us experience a new side of this contemporary masterpiece.

Trevor serves as KBIA’s weekday morning host for classical music. He has been involved with local radio since 1990, when he began volunteering as a music and news programmer at KOPN, Columbia's community radio station. Before joining KBIA, Trevor studied social work at Mizzou and earned a masters degree in geography at the University of Alabama. He has worked in community development and in urban and bicycle/pedestrian planning, and recently served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia with his wife, Lisa Groshong. An avid bicycle commuter and jazz fan, Trevor has cycled as far as Colorado and pawed through record bins in three continents.
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