Bach Visualized

Bach’s music is often described as cerebral, even mathematical in nature. (Douglas Hofstadter even put Bach on equal footing with mathematician Gödel. He used these two, together with visual artist Escher, as examples of logic in his book-length introduction to mathematics and intelligence, Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid).


But how to prove this assertion? Well, visualizing Bach’s music helps. That is what Alan Warburton did in this beautifully executed animation. It is lovely to look at, and at the same time it reveals some of the underlying patterns of the composition. It proves that there is method to the music.


Over a decade ago, Stephen Malinowski performed a similar experiment. Though much less visually refined, his rendition of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor reveals just as much about the composition, if not more.


Finally, this third video takes its musical cue from the Canon 1 à 2 (Canon cancricans) from Bach’s Musikalisches Opfer. It reveals the circular, even palindrome-like structure by visualizing the sheet music as a Möbius strip.