Math with a soundtrack

There’s something about music or a soundtrack that really enhances what would otherwise be just a silent movie. So I plan to add music to my visualizations as time and inspiration allow. Here’s an example that I did a week or two back. The original movie was 24 seconds long, but now it’s been slowed down to accommodate an atmospheric soundtrack.

Hyperbolic Kaleidoscope from Peter Liepa on Vimeo.

Scoring the Boulder Dash theme

A few weeks ago I discovered noteflight.com, a website that lets you create musical scores.  I’ve always wanted to use scoring software, but never got around to it until – well you know, the price was right.

Years ago I wrote a computer game called Boulder Dash.  The music for that was composed in a very basic soundtrack editor I wrote for the Atari 800, and was never actually played on a real-world instrument.  I’ve always wanted to convert that music to a real score and hear what it would sound like on, say, the piano.

I dug up some old listings and transcribed the music, which was encoded in all of 256 bytes, and represented 16 bars of music in two voices.

Here’s the result (the play button is at the upper left of the snippet):

In the original game, the 16 bar melody repeated endlessly, ceasing only when the user pressed the Start button.  Here, I give two reps, followed by a tacked-on finish.  According to a friend with music theory background, this kind of repeating passage is called a vamp (in musical theatre circles), and the key signature (which I admit had been puzzling me) is C minor.

By the way, some of Noteflight’s amazing features show through in the score snippet above.  Not only can you play the score by pressing the forward button, but you can click individual notes and play them (or play notes that share the same stem by clicking on the stem).  Each bar has its own play button, so you can start play in mid-score.  You can select groups of notes, staffs, bars, etc – check it out by hovering over different parts of the score. Shift-P will start playing from your current selection.  For more of this awesomeness – and actual music-editing functionaliy, go to their site. Or click on the Noteflight icon at the lower right of the snippet to see the full score.