Variations is an interactive installation that we created for the MIT Museum. The purpose of the installation is to demonstrate how different music performers interpret a classical musical score by showing the stylistic changes they choose to include in their performance. By sliding musical notes back and forth along a table, the user creates their own performance of Anton Webern’s Opus 27 Piano Variations, showing how the same piece of music can be played many different ways.
The table has several slidable buttons on it, each representing a note from a phrase of the musical selection. When a play button is pressed, the exhibit will generate a composition from the spacing and position of the sliders and play it out loud. Three example performances from real performers are also featured to provide a visual aid, among other things. Each time the passage is played, it will sound completely different, highlighting the micro-differences that each performance unique.