Catapulting into Classical

A headlong leap into music, history, and composing

A Beethoven String Quartet and DIY Visualization


Portrait of Beethoven wearing tie-dye t-shirt, holding manuscript

I have some eye candy for you this morning, and an opportunity to get absolutely no work done today (hey, it’s Monday, let’s ease into the week!).

Here is a visualization of Beethoven’s String Quartet No 14 in C-sharp minor.  For visual learners, this is a gem, because you can see how each instrument line moves and it’s easier to see patterns.  It can also be mesmerizing to watch.

For those who are up to a challenge, let me recommend the visualization of Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge Op. 133.

The creator of the video, Stephen Malinowski, has uploaded a number of these visualizations to YouTube.  Malinowski developed the software that generates them.  Here is a TED talk about it.

So, do you want to generate your own?

It turns out the software to generate these visualizations (in other colorful formats as well) is available for free at  As of today’s date the file is safe to download, if that’s a concern.  Download the file, which is in zipped format, extract it, and open the player (it works fine in Windows 8).  Pull down the “File” tab, click “Open” and select any file you might have in .mid (midi) or .mamx format.

The download includes some popular selections such as Berceuse, Chopin’s Opus 27 No 2, Clair de Lune, In Dulci Jubilo, and some selections from Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier.  As Malinowski points out, you can find abundant midi files to download at the Classical Archives website (sign-in required).  You can also find them at (sign-in required), the Mutopia Project, the Choral Public Domain Library, and the Petrucci Music Library (

If you do a little composing yourself and use software that generates midi files, you can see your own music on screen!  You can also recreate an ocular harpsichord of sorts, because the program allows direct input from a midi keyboard.

Thanks to friend and reader Paul B. for telling me about the Beethoven string quartet video.


Image attribution

Portrait of Beethoven by Joseph Karl Stieler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Tie-dye by MpegMan at en.wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], from Wikimedia Commons.

Mash-up by C. Gallant.


4 thoughts on “A Beethoven String Quartet and DIY Visualization

  1. Extraordinary! This is no doubt really helpful for a general audience, but it also is a nice teaching tool, and even potentially helpful to composers, in terms of spotting bad habits of texture, voicing, instrument-utilization and hundred of other potential issues. And fun to watch too. The other approach to fugue would of course be to color-code the subject (and answer), counter-subject (s) and so on, to follow the material (and not just the instruments) through the score. And maybe not only for fugue. Wow!



    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: A Beethoven String Quartet and DIY Visualization | Kurt Nemes' Classical Music Almanac

  3. This lovely music has kept me company this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow. I’ve never seen a visualisation like that. So simple, and yet brings another dimension to the music.

    Liked by 1 person

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