Who sez Bach can’t surf? Here’s my first ever public recording of Bach’s famous Prelude in D minor (BWV 999) played on guitar, with oscilloscope accompaniment. Found the results intriguing, so posted the video on YouTube, for your viewing pleasure.

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What fascinates me the most is this staggered wave effect in response to the patterned musical motif. For best results, try the full screen version by clicking on the YouTube logo at the lower right hand corner of this video to go to its YouTube page, and then clicking on the full-screen button below the player.

If you let yourself be hypnotized by what you’re seeing, you’ll start to see a “ghost wave” effect – even depth perception of shifting dream landscapes – much like the ethereal visuals achieved by film animation wizard Frédéric Back, in his famous film L’homme qui plantait des arbres (The Man Who Planted Trees).

Of note: the volume peaks are clearly visible, due to overly-accented top string playing, ugh. Nevertheless, I got this rather poetic result using the “synchronous” setting on my oscilloscope software. Btw, I also recorded a faster, more technically perfect version which, oddly enough, was less interesting to watch due to the uniformity or “matching” of the waves. It may be a stretch, but perhaps this wave matching effect has something to do – albeit below conscious awareness – with the preference for fast speed in most renditions of this prelude.

Otherwise, any of you acoustics techies who could further explain what we’re seeing here?

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