Sonification – Some Working Notes

This post is mostly a brain-dump of some information (actually, a lot of information) gathered over the past week as part of an effort to write a proposal for a sound art thing involving The QuadTool. Gustavo Alfaix suggested doing this, and I am grateful for his interest and help. Hylynyiv Lyngyrkz also provided some advice from past experience, for which I am again grateful.

I’m still figuring this stuff out, so there’s a chance I’m wrong about something, or am leaving out necessary information. If that’s the case, please educate me. So here you go:

Data sonification is, on its own, rather straight-forward: Find a dataset that has a time-series (meaning simply that the data changes over time), map listening objects to the data, season to taste and serve. Yes, that is a bit of an over-simplification, and should you be interested in more details, Shawn Graham’s post might be of interest. One takeaway from this article is the idea of organizing the sonification in terms of classification and clustering.

Sonification as a technical effort seems kind of easy, repeatable. What makes it interesting, what “aestheticizes” it, is the selection of the dataset, and the treatment of the data set.

Pitch/frequency information seems to be the most common axis to map the data onto. What I would like to end up with is a workflow to sonify data in the the quad listening space, rather than pitch-space. To put the focus of the work on the spatial domain, rather than pitch/frequency domain. Changes encoded/embodied in the data would be reflected in modulation of basic spatial patterns, rather than modulations in pitches/frequencies.

UPDATE 20170406:
Here are some links from information about a software called Play-splom, received from Chris Sattinger/CrucialFelix:

Play-splom software: view play-splom at GitHub
Play-splom in action: Listen to CrucialFelx play-splom example



Radio show

I’ve been looking for alternatives to the produce/perform/release/promote way of doing things, and perhaps have found one. Recently Resonance EXTRA has agreed to allow me to produce a monthly program for broadcast. It will be called “Listening Experience”, in keeping with the idea that as sound creators our primary job is to make listening experiences. Simple enough, yes? 🙂

For the beginning, at least, I think the shows will focus on themes written about elsewhere on this website. Themes like pulse, sonance, delta, and so forth. I like the idea of expanding these ideas to something tangible/listenable. Words about sound can only go so far to describe ideas about sound. Actual sounds are better. Hopefully this will evolve as it progresses.

The project manager for the station also suggested that I do one or more shows featuring the works of other people that fit the idea of the “Listening Experience”. I forget the exact words, but that was the idea. He suggested that separate programming time be devoted to this. So I am also on the lookout for recordings of music/sound art/whatever made by others that fit the show’s premise. I would like to eventually have enough material to do one or more of this type of show as well.



Before moving to Berlin, I recorded a few hours of feedback projects; the idea was to “play the air in the room”. This was done using a small audio mixer, which directed signals from several microphones to two amplifiers in the performance space. The signals from each amplifier were also included in the signal paths.

One of the performances was done at Crooked Floor studio, the other at Ramble Creek studio, both in Austin, Texas. I thank Ryan Rooney for the use of Crooked Floor, and Britton Beisenhertz for the use of Ramble Creek.

I don’t remember why I didn’t post the audio files online at the time they were recorded; they are now available here:

Piece (Crooked Floor)

Ramble Creek 019

Pro Tools as no-input mixing board

I am revisiting the use of Pro Tools as a no-input mixing board tone generator. My interest at this point is the generation of structured sonic content that is suitable for use in film/video/av performance.

Below is a link to a track from this batch of work. This track should have a better name, but at the moment I can’t think of one, so we’ll just use the production filename.