Data Sonification – using sound to make data easier to understand – is fascinating, and I think an incredibly powerful way to understand something quickly and instinctively – more so than just looking at the numbers alone.
The rising numbers of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK have become difficult to comprehend, so I wanted to use sound to create a more meaningful interaction with the statistics.
Listen out for the following:
Harp = Total cases | Violin = R number | Church Organ = new cases per month.
I used two tone for the data sonification after cleaning the data, then exported each ‘data song’ file into Logic Pro X to mix. The piece goes up at the end because of the rising case numbers. However, I felt the piece needed something extra to make it more ‘listenable’ and therefore easier to understand – instead of just hearing a series of musical notes. So the challenge: how do we balance any accompanying instruments – adding ambience and atmosphere without obstructing the data?
The hardest thing was choosing how to orchestrate the data itself: for fast moving numbers I felt the sound needed to be more percussive – but for the R number I felt there needed to be a more constant sound. I suspect there are some innate rules for data sonification I’m tapping into here, which might be interesting to research further.
Finally I used deep music visualiser to generate an #AI video which responds to the pitch and tempo, then onto Final Cut Pro X to edit on the captions and statistics to help listeners detect how the changes in pitch correlate to the numbers.
I hope that the next time I’m turning coronavirus data into music that the piece ends up lower at the end.