How Sonification Helps to Spot Patterns in Data

If you’re interested in using computers for analyzing data, you might love the idea of the event “Measurement Music: ‘Sonification’ as tool for uncovering patterns in data”. In March 2016, the University of British Columbia’s Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies gathered 30 scientists to hold an event in a form of a workshop.

In the workshop, various datasets were used to show how sonification can provide people with a deeper understanding of natural and human phenomena and how it leads to the creation of new musical materials.

Sonification of cardiogram

Sonification proves the possibility to generate music from equations. What is more, exploring numerical models can stimulate musical behavior. It’s also possible to automate the detail algorithmically so that computer-generated sounds can specify notes details. Sonification is also used to apply sequences of numbers to the generation of sound. In this case, the numbers from datasets are imported from outside of music. While listening to the results, we use ‘musical ears’ which allows us to understand the system behaviors better. No matter what data you use for sonification, whether global economic trends or events, it represents patters and processes in the natural word.

What is the difference between sound and visuals? People are able to hear trends at multiple time scales.

The workshop proved that sonification can be implemented in many disciplines. For those who were interested in practical aspects, there was a possibility to participate in the tutorial using the laptop and special tool. All participants were able to analyze their own data, so one of the workshop members, Chris Harley, used his measurements of tides to analyze the impact of climate change on rocky coasts. Since his research group (Harley Lab) wanted to understand how different factors affect the ways that special interact with each other, they have created ecological patterns in time and space.

The idea of using some tide data was worth it as large data was converted into audio.

“You can hear the rising and then falling chirp-chirp-chirp of the major high tides, which get highest at the new and full moons, and then the slightly lower trill of two roughly equal high tides per day, which occurs during the quarter moons.”

All in all, sonification helps to save time and analyze data patterns faster, so the workshop has affected all participants.

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