Special: Visual Animated Score for “Twenty Seven”

Most of the time, when I hear music, I have initial feelings about whether I like or dislike it and down the line (maybe next time I’m at a record store) that may influence my decision to buy or not buy the album.  A couple of weeks ago, I came across the EPK for Brad Mehldau’s newest album, titled “Highway Rider,” and hearing the music provoked a much more immediate reaction — I knew that I had to buy the album and listen to it immediately.  After buying and downloading the album from iTunes, I started digging around on Mehldau’s website and found an animated score for one of the songs.

This seemed like the perfect way to present the Duo Chronicles material.  We already provide videos and sheet music files, so why not combine the two?

After quite a bit of research and planning, I came up with what I thought would be the best method to create that sort of video using the tools at my disposal.  The final product was made with Finale 2010 (for the sheet music itself), Gimp (to edit the sheet music into separate image files), and Final Cut Express (to animate the image files and combine them with the audio track).

I chose to use the technique on “Twenty Seven,” a piece from a couple of weeks ago that was completely through composed, meaning that the score represented everything that was played — no improvisation to deal with.  “Twenty Seven” also had a few instruments (melodica, soprano sax, tenor sax, and piano), making the five-staff score more interesting to represent than just a piano/sax duet with only three staffs.

Without going into too much detail, the basic process for creation of the video was:

  • Create a score that fit on one page (about 110 inches long and 5 inches tall)
  • Cut the score horizontally to make separate files for each instrument
  • Cut those resulting files vertically to break up the piece into sections (the result was about 50 separate image files)
  • Line up the different sections of the score with the audio track in Final Cut and add animations

The amount of time that it took to create the project makes it prohibitive to do for each Duo Chronicles piece, but it’s definitely something we’d like to explore further for the occasional video.

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