Here’s the first in a long series of data sonification experiments. This Hidden Music series is a long term interest/project/passion of mine, which involves the systematic translation of ‘non-musical’ data into music. Here’s a simple example, the orbital periods of the planets of the solar system translated into pitch and rhythm. The rhythms are simply created by speeding up the actual orbital periods by 25 octaves (doubling the speed 25 times), and the pitches are created by transposing them up 37 octaves. I haven’t quantized pitch or rhythm, so its both microtonal to the nearest cent (100th of a semitone) and microtemporal (to the nearest millisecond), but I hear a clockwork beauty in this irrational/chaotic collection of ratios nonetheless. Stay tuned for some even more distant harmony from some ex-planets. I recommend a sub-bass speaker to really feel Uranus and Neptune’s drones. Thanks to Rob Scott for his space science brain, and my long term partner-in-nerd Anna Tanczos for the visuals.
I asked my friend and many-time collaborator Anna Tanczos to visualise Villa-Lobos’s New York Skyline Melody for a recent lecture-presentation. The results are fantastic (I predict 1000s of views), and you can see exactly how Villa-Lobos translated the New York Skyline into a solo piano work (note the multiple voices with the foreground and background buildings). This piece has been a big inspiration to me the field of data sonification. For more on New York Skyline Melody and similar workssee here, and for all things Data Sonification here.
For a dynamic list of Hidden Music projects click here.
Hidden Music:Sonic is a collection of electronic works using compositional systems to translate physical phenomena of the biological world into complex mesmeric soundscapes. Source material include the DNA, colour and shape of microbacterial colonies, the population of blood cells during leukaemia treatment, the shape of the coronal suture of the human skull, tree-rings, MRI scans of the human brain and the passage of molecules through the cell membrane.
Bonus material! Album purchase includes 6,000 word liner notes, detailing the philosophy and process behind these works.
Funded by the Wellcome Trust, Microcosmos is a sound installation project in collaboration with microbiologist Dr. Simon Park and Cameraman Steve Downer (Blue Planet, Life on Earth etc.). The DNA codes, colour & shape of microbacterial colonies are translated into sound design using a complex automated mapping system. The resulting soundscape reveals the hidden music of this spectacularly tiny world. Microcosmos has been performed internationally including the Science Museum, Royal Academy of Music, Art Researches Science Belgium and disseminated in international conferences. Here is an extract of the piece:
Some images from the installation below as well as a representation of the mapping system employed (from the hidden music liner notes)