Recently I've been discussing with Janne Haydn's use of sonata form in his symphony no84 (in this forum and by PM). It's possible to pick up things by careful listening certainly, but it isn't really as precise as looking at a score. Unfortunately many find reading a score difficult and with a miniature score of an orchestral work there is alot to follow as well.
On youtube I found some interesting animations (by someone called Smalin) probably using some midi technology which help show the score easier. He created the program himself and it is available for people to use.
What do you think of these as a way of looking at music and analysing it. Of course it doesn't show everything like changes of key but it does help lay bare some aspects of the score such as the shape of the ideas. Looking at notes on an actual score isn't so clear as this particularly for those not used to looking at scores.
They're certainly interesting videos, but I think that they need to be approached in the right way. Their most obvious pitfall is that, to students at least, they run the risk of placing too much emphasis on visual shape (as opposed to aural). It implicitly suggests that a composer might have had this kind of bar-graph representation in mind when writing a piece, so it needs to be made clear that the appearance of these videos have little or nothing to do with the actual process of composition.
Having said that, they do of course have their virtues. Personally, I think they are most useful with orchestral pieces because they can give a very clear perspective on orchestration/instrumentation.
Well the visual obviously represents the aural to an extent, at least in the pattern of ideas. Then it can be seen how ideas are developed and changed through a piece through changes to the patterns. The overall structure and the orchestration and distribution of the ideas are made clearer in the linear unfolding of the piece. More precise detail, exact chords etc, should be seen by viewing a real score alongside it perhaps.
As many people mentioned, this bar-graph style is inaccurate about specific key signatures. However, bar-graph scores are a fantastic illustration of the relationships between all the instruments. It's a great way to see the spacial relationship in the harmonies between instruments.