Covid-19 in the UK – sonified

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.

Coronavirus Data from the UK made into music

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.

The UK #Coronavirus data was correct at 20 Dec. Stats taken from Our World In Data