Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Arnold Schoenberg's Opus 11....Played by Cats

I've always had a strange feeling that cats have the lowdown on hexachordal combinatoriality - a huge congrats to Cory Arcangel for creating an audio/video mashup of Arnold Schoenberg's Drei Klavierstuecke Op. 11, as played on fragments of 170 separate videos of cats. Here's how he did it:
So, I probably made this video the most backwards and bone headed way possible, but I am a hacker in the traditional definition of someone who glues together ugly code and not a programmer. For this project I used some programs to help me save time in finding the right cats. Anyway, first I downloaded every video of a cat playing piano I could find on Youtube. I ended up with about 170 videos. Then I extracted the audio from each, pasted these files end to end, and then pasted this huge file onto the end of an audio file of Glenn Gould playing op11. I loaded this file into Comparisonics. Comparisonics, a strange free program I found while surfing one night, allows users to highlight a section of audio, and responds by finding "similar" sounding areas in rest of the audio file. Using Comparisioncs I went through every "note" (sometimes I also did clusters of notes) in the Gould, then selected my favorite "similar" section Comparisonics suggested and wrote it in the score. After going though the 1000's of "notes", the completed scores were turned into a video by some perl scripts I wrote...
Opus 11 #1:



(Via kottke.org)

More feline performances on the Collaborative Piano Blog:

Finally, don't forget to check out the Hello Kitty Piano.


  1. Predictably non-PC, I can only say that this is the best Schoenberg I've ever heard, and for me, the ultimate best use of his music. To go even further into my dinosaur-like fuddy duddyism, I'll admit I would probably like it best of all with just the visuals.......

  2. Love the cats playing piano. And really, some of the best music I've ever heard has come from the animal world! :)