Beautiful Music by Louise Shorten

Beautiful Music features sixes pieces of music which are each remarkable compositions in their own way. Visualising the notes shines a light on the different elements of each piece. Through exploring the data I was able to settle upon a different way of presenting each one in a visual manner. Three of the pieces are classical music by Mozart and Bach and three are popular songs by well-known artists. You can interact with the visualisations by clicking and hovering to find out more information about the notes. I’m very grateful to Dinushki De Liviera for her blog ( which outlined the process that allowed me to convert the files on Musescore to data I could work with. Many thanks to all the authors on the Musescore platform who published the scores used here and of course the musicians themselves for the wonderful music. All data sources and required attributions are linked in the interactive version on Tableau Public. There are six tabs with visualisations and one with supporting information.

In the first movement of Mozart’s Symphony No. 40 ‘Molto Allegro’ each orchestral instrument is shown in a different colour, so we see where the different sounds feature across the full spectrum of notes throughout the piece (lower notes closer to the centre and higher notes as you move towards the outer edge). The piece opens with the strings on the left (see the red/pink/purple circles) and then the other instruments join in to create a rich and varied sound. The longer the notes are held, the bigger the circles representing them. The visualisation of ‘Offertorium: Domine Jesu’ from Mozart’s Requiem can be read from left to right with the colourful palette showing the presence of high and low notes across the movement. In contrast with the first two pieces, Bach’s ‘Minuet in G Major’ is a much simpler piece. I chose to colour the notes and show them as if they were written on a the musical staves. The acapella arrangement of Regina Spektor’s ‘The Call’ was written for several voices and I’ve highlight the line carrying the tune in blue. The score for Coldplay’s 'Sky Full of Stars' was written for piano. The chords in the left hand create a strong recurring pattern and the high notes of the melody jump out in the right hand. Finally, Adele’s ‘Set Fire to the Rain’ is an arrangement for piano and we can follow the melody in the right hand from start to finish.