CGI Bach Animation Casts 1722 Masterpiece in a Futuristic Glow

Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier becomes an ethereal visual experience, bathed in neon light.

image via vimeo screen capture

When Johann Sebastian Bach compiled his Well-Tempered Clavier collection of keyboard music in 1722, he intended it to be used primarily as practice material for beginning students, and something fun and easy for more intermediate players. Since then, however, the compositions found within the collection have gone on to become some of Bach’s most famous pieces of music, recognizable to many by melody, if not necessarily by name.

Now, nearly three hundred years after Bach first composed the music that would comprise his Well Tempered Clavier, one of its best-known pieces has been given a beautiful new life as a haunting visual experience.


Created by classical music appreciation website Sinfini, the deceptively simple video above is actually an extrodinarily complex CGI animation. As Sinfini explains on their site:

Alan’s (visual artist and director Alan Warburton) incredible design incorporated many thousands of separate CGI lights, every one of which had to be tailored to the precise duration of (musician) Pierre-Laurent Aimard's note strikes. 'I needed to find a way of automating the process of these turning on and off in time with the music,' says Alan. With no midi file of the performance available, he was faced with the seemingly impossible task of matching every note of a stand-in midi file to the recording, by ear alone.

It was clear that this was no one-man job, so Alan called in a US-based music visualization specialist, Matthew Bain. A gifted pianist, Matthew not only learned Aimard’s interpretation by heart but played along with the recording on an electric piano, thus creating a useable midi track. This data was then linked up to the data from Alan's 3D lights model so that every light responded to the right note at the right time, for the correct length of time.

As difficult as the video may have been to create, its effect is profoundly soothing. It becomes a synesthetic melding of sight and sound, and brings centuries-old music to pulsating, ethereal life.

[via boing boing]

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

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