Skip to content
Whitney Music Box exhibit
Branch: master
Clone or download
Fetching latest commit…
Cannot retrieve the latest commit at this time.
Type Name Latest commit message Commit time
Failed to load latest commit information.

Whitney Music Box

A Math and Music interactive exhibit by IMAGINARY gGmbH.


Based on a concept by Jim Bumgardner inspired by experimental film pioneer John Whitney.

In page 38 of his book "Digital Harmony", Whitney writes:

An early intuition about how to control total dynamics led me to activate all graphic elements through a motion function that advances each element differentially. For example, if one element were set to move at a given rate, the next element might be moved at two times that rate. Then the third would move at three times that rate and so on. Each element would move at a different rate and in a different direction within the field of action. So long as all elements obey a rule of direction and rate, and none drifts aimlessly or randomly, then pattern configurations form and reform. This is harmonic resonance, and it echoes musical harmony, stated in explicit terms. I tried this procedure in several films, and was gratified by the consistency of the confirmation it demonstrated.

(John Whitney, Digital Harmony: On the Complementarity of Music and Visual Art, McGraw-Hill Inc.,US; 1st edition May 1, 1980, ISBN-13: 978-0070700154)

In the original Whitney Music Box Jim Bumgardner had 48 dots moving in a circle at different speeds. Every time the outermost dot moved once around the circle the next dot moved twice, the next three times and so on up to the innermost which moved 48 times around. He had the idea of playing a different note each time one of the dots moved through the zero point. In the first version Bumgardner used a 48 note chromatic scale, and in further experiments he tried the harmonic series with different fundamentals, putting the notes in reverse order, as a palyndrome, etc.


White paper

Nice explanation by Jim Bumgardner at Gel 2007

More examples at:


Just open the index.html file.

To operate the Whitney Music Box using on-screen controls use the screenControls query string argument:


otherwise the music box listens to the mousewheel event to rotate.


Compilation is not needed unless you want to do modifications.

To compile you'll need to install yarn and node.js.

Standing in the root directory run


to install dependencies. And then


to precompile ES6 and SASS sources to JS and CSS respectively.

You can’t perform that action at this time.