Pianophase.com from Alexander Chen on Vimeo.

You can already hear it. And now, in a hypnotic, rotating visualization, you can see Steve Reich’s melodies shift out of phase.

It’s latest work from Alexander Chen, the Google-employed artist who we’ve seen working with wine glasses and Google Glass, visualizing Bach, and sonifying subway schedules.

This time, a radial visualization elucidates the subtle but beautiful play of piano lines in the seminal minimalist work.

Live in your browser:


This site is based on the first section from Steve Reich’s 1967 piece Piano Phase. Two pianists repeat the same twelve note sequence, but one gradually speeds up. Here, the musical patterns are visualized by drawing two lines, one following each pianist.

The sound is performed live in the browser with the Web Audio API, and drawn in HTML5 Canvas. chenalexander.com

It’s impressive how precisely the browser can capture the nuance of the work, down to its rhythms. And you get somehow a clearer sense of what you’re hearing seeing it at the same time – at least for me. (Curious if others have the same feeling.)

And (Tumblr fans, this is for you, let’s go viral with Reich), the blog post contains animated GIFs, including one that reduces the piece to a single second, producing a gorgeous pattern: