World map as a musical score

Originally published at:


Not to denigrate this person’s substantial efforts and time invested in the project but I don’t know what I find more annoying: this, or music symbols used incorrectly for the purpose of adorning things like novelty mugs and xmas ornaments.

“Look, I can turn a bass clef into a bird! See its little legs?” Hooray. Now go home and practice.

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Soooooo I guess you hate all the cool ASCII art too?

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I’m not very fond of this either. High concept art, but of very little interest when you do to the score what you are supposed to do to a score, i.e., play it. Compare with Ars subtilior, where the composer was actually less constrained as to the notes to be used:

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I think the paralell situation to the original post is more like, let’s say an ascii art creator used a bunch of characters that happened to spell out words, and then tried to pass off their ascii art as interesting literature.

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But are they trying to pass this off as ‘interesting music’ or just hey I do this thing that amuses me and I want to share it?
I think it looks cool. Sounds cool not so much though.

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IDK? The fact that this stuff bothers me isn’t necessarily an objective measure of its intrinsic goodness.

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Finally listened to these… Exactly! People who write music in pencil or pen know that it’s extremely malleable, visually. Apart from the limitations of music publishing software, there’s no reason why the artist who made the world map score couldn’t generate a likeness of the continental U.S. from the Entrance of the Gladiators or a Trump head from the Darth Vader Theme.

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I think this is really cool.

(also @MQtiepie)

Dunno, but there is usually an implicit promise of a tour de force: you’ve got two different ways of viewing a piece of work dictated by the same high concept, and both aspects are supposed to make sense and tie into the high concept seamlessly. Here the musical aspect is, at best, mediocre.

Contrast that with the Ars subtilior pieces: the notes aren’t actually dictated by pictorial requirements (but there were no such things as full scores in the late 14th century, only parts), but the music really is a tour de force, full of contrapuntal and mensural subtleties (the style came by its name honestly), and the scores are nonetheless very pretty.

I’m really very wary of high concept in general: it’s frequently used to hide lacunae in imagination and/or skill.

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