First sonification workshop

From 20 to 24 of November last I took part in the first sonification workshop at OKNO in Brussels. This workshop is part of the European ALOTOF project. I’ll be working with them for the next two years on building a laboratory in the open field and making audio-visualisations of environmental and physiological data. Some thoughts on the workshop and subject:

- What is your idea about ’sonification’ or even ‘audiovisualisation’?
I would like to use sound/silence and light and for example air flow to influence my inner state. I’d like to measure environmental and physiological data, turn them into actuators and then measure again to see the results.

- What were you working on in the workshop?
I had to invest a lot of time in reading the values from my decibel meter through the serial port with Processing. As measuring noise is important for my plans I had to tackle that first. Unfortunately it took a lot longer then expected.
As I’m quite new to the world of sound I’ve explored some basic stuff using the minim library for Processing (http://code.compartmental.net/tools/minim/). After trying some frequency modulation and synthesis which sounded awful I ended up using layers of sine waves.
I used years of mood data that I read into Processing and sonified one row of data every second. I used three sine waves: 1. the current mood 2. the average mood for that day 3. the average mood for that year. The sine waves all had mapped mood values between 400 and 60. The better the mood higher the tone.

And I worked with real-time data from the decibel meter. Again using just sine waves now with low frequencies of up to around 100. I measured the decibel level and stored it to calculate the average for up to an hour. The other sine was the current decibel level. The low frequencies didn’t disturb the silence and acted like an echo.

- What are your plans for the future workshops?
My next step will be to work with physiological data from a muscle tension sensor (http://floris.cc/shop/en/sensors/807-muscle-sensor-v3-kit-.html) and hopefully with my heart and breath rate shirt (http://www.hexoskin.com/en). I’m hoping to produce sounds that will reduce tension and lower heart an breath rate. I’m thinking of reproducing natural sounds like birdsong and rustling of leaves, etc.