Vibrant Data Visualizations of Famous Classical Music Scores Burst with Color

Vivaldi data visualization

The Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi
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Self-described “designer, data geek, fractal nut” Nicholas Rougeux has merged open-source music with data visualization to create colorful imagery based on some of the most famous classical music scores in history. From Mozart and Beethoven to Chopin and Vivaldi, it's fascinating to see how these well-known pieces translate into artistic data visualizations.

For Off the Staff, Rougeux relied on MuseScore (free music notation software which allows community members to share sheet music) and OpenScore (a project that aims to “digitize and liberate all public domain sheet music”). Interestingly, Rougeux himself can't read sheet music, but he's able to parse it, pulling out single notes from the scores. Each individual instrument is represented by a different color, resulting in the brightly hued imagery, which is available as posters.

“Every time I extract data, I never know what it's going to look like,” Rougeux tells My Modern Met. “I had some inklings for some pieces like Flight of the Bumblebee with its rises and falls but even that one surprised me.” To create his visualizations, Rougeux altered the traditional representation of scale, typically noted by the different clefs on sheet music.

“I did away with that and showed all notes in their natural position on the scale—distance from center—no matter how high (farther) or low (closer) they were. Essentially, while sheet music shows notes from different scales on the same staff, my project shows different staffs on the same scale—hence the name, Off the Staff.”

In terms of color scale, he typically tries several different shades and hues to see what works best, as he never knows the final result until the visualization is complete.

The self-taught web developer and artist hopes that Off the Staff will allow people to see music in a different way and reveal something hidden within the notes. By taking something people naturally consume using their auditory skills, he enjoys flipping the experience on its ear by appealing to different senses. Surprises are sure to be discovered and Rougeux appreciates hearing what people take away from his work.

Off the Staff is a data visualization project that translates famous classical music scores into colorful imagery.

Mozart data visualization

Allegro, Eine kleine Nachtmusik, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Beethoven data visualization

Allegro con brio, Symphony No. 5, Ludwig van Beethoven

data visualizations of great composers

Cannon in D, Johann Pachelbel

Classical Music Data Visualizations by Nicholas Rougeux

1812 Overture, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

Classical Music Data Visualizations by Nicholas Rougeux

Flight of the Bumblebee, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov

Each instrument in the score is represented by a different color.

Classical Music Data Visualizations by Nicholas Rougeux

Hallelujah, Messiah, George Frideric Handel

Classical Music Data Visualizations by Nicholas Rougeux

Piano Quintet No. 2, Gabriel Fauré

Classical Music Data Visualizations by Nicholas Rougeux

William Tell Overture, Gioachino Rossini

data visualization of famous classical music

Quintet, Luigi Boccherini

Creator Nicholas Rougeux used open-source data from MuseScore and OpenScore to complete the project.

Classical Music Data Visualization by Nicholas Rougeux

Wedding March, Felix Mendelssohn

data visualization of Vivaldi

The Four Seasons: Winter, Antonio Vivaldi

music data visualization

The Barber of Seville Overture, Gioachino Rossini

data visualization of classical music

Symphonie fantastique, Hector Berlioz

You can also watch each piece as the mesmerizing visualization unfolds.

Nicholas Rougeux: Website | Facebook | Instagram | Behance | Zazzle

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Nicholas Rougeux.

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Staff Editor and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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