In the opening bars of Steve Reich's "Piano Phase," two pianists play the same sequence precisely in unison --- then one player speeds up "very slightly,"creating a subtle dissonance that you can't so much hear asfeel.
Performersand their audiences experience a piece of music differently, and the distance between score and ear is a big one. Process music, as it's often called, revels in that distance ---but if an audience member can't read music or isn't privy to the plan, they lose out on some of the fun. That'swhy great music visualization projects can be so exciting, like this one byAlexander Chen. You can watch the pianos fall out of phase, then settle into a carefully choreographed game of catch:
When you experience the piece through your browser, the sound is generatedlive. That means that, unlike a recording of the original piece (and oddly,wonderfully), when you click to a different tab, the sound and visualization abruptly stop --- then start again with a spectacular crash when you return.
Chen also takes on classical work, includingthe first Prelude in Bach's "Cello Suites":
And oh how I wish I could play with this prototype:
In their ownway, Chen's visualizations are instruments, too.