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Slightly better visualizations, Round 4

February 25, 2011

Ok, one more, then I’ll stop! This one’s also going on the front page, because I did this one from scratch. Here’s a visualization (or “infographic,” which is kind of a stupid term) of the lengths of Beethoven symphonies (click for hi-res version).

beethoven symphonies visualization

This one tries to conform to Edward Tufte’s principles of good design. The gridlines every 2:00 are implicit, and I tried to eliminate “chartjunk.” I think it’s an effective example of a small multiple: the design strategy for one symphony is repeated for all the others. There’s also a lot of data here; you can get general trends just by the length of the bars (it’s easy to see how ridiculously long the last symphony is, comparatively), and you can get specific data by looking at the data inside the bars. It would probably me more effective if I averaged data across multiple recordings, but then I’d have to go to the library instead of sitting around at home and doing it.

That’s all for now…maybe some more blog posts this weekend, but I think I’ve pretty much filled my quota for the month!

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Slightly better visualizations, Round 3

February 25, 2011

Ok, here’s a more advanced redrawing. Hit the jump! Read more…

Slightly better visualizations, Round 2

February 25, 2011

I haven’t quite got WordPress figured out, and I don’t want to put these images in a gallery, so I’ll split these up into separate posts. This one I’m including mostly so Mark can see how mine differs from his. I’ll keep this one on the front page, because I think it’s pretty!

Here’s an image from Fred Lerdahl’s book Tonal Pitch Space along with my redrawing of it. It follows one of the best design maxims for data visualization ever: if it doesn’t matter, make it gray! This one is the first one I did, so I’d probably change some things about it now, but it doesn’t bother me so much that I won’t put it up the way it is.

lerdahl lattice redraw

Slightly better visualizations, Round 1

February 25, 2011

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve written, but I’ve had a ridiculously busy couple of weeks (giving 2 papers 5 days apart was not the wisest decision I’ve ever made). Taking a cue from my friend Mark Chilla, I thought I’d post some things I’ve been working on for class. I’m taking a seminar called Visualizing Music, which is pretty much the sweetest seminar ever in that we sit around and look at pictures, then go home and make bad pictures better. I won’t spam the front page here, but hit the jump for some bad music theory pictures and my (I hope) improvements of them.

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Ramblings of a lazy grader

February 14, 2011

I have a whole lot of stuff to do, so naturally I’m blogging. I slogged through 10 out of the 30 essays I have to do earlier, then I sat down to do 10 more and couldn’t force myself into it. Student essays on form in Stravinsky/Hindemith/Debussy/Bartok/Ives aren’t really what I want after a long day at school, so I’ll just type randomly about everything I have going on.

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Stupid design, round 1

February 12, 2011

As a complement to my Bad Visualization series, I bring you a double-header of Stupid Design! Not like I don’t have a million things to do before the end of the month, but it’s early and I don’t want to start editing another paper yet. Hit the read link, because I don’t want these abominations taking up room on the main page.

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On why my friends are more talented than I am

February 4, 2011

So I just got back from hearing Ken Ge and Friends at the Cafe Django downtown. The Cafe is a cool place; Carolyn and I went once before to see Ken. I sat at the bar, since I couldn’t find anyone to drag along with me, which was fine until some stupid undergrads showed up. It was a good gig, and reminded me how much more talented my friends are than I am.

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