A systematic procedure to develop sonifications
The amount of data being processed today is steadily increasing, and both socienty and science need new ways to explore their data. In SysSon, we worked on a systematic procedure to introduce sonification - the acoustic analogue to visualization - to new scientific fields. Sonification takes advantage of human perceptual capabilities of the sense of hearing.
We tested our approach in a case study with climate scientists at the Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change. Climate data are an ideal use case for sonification because of typically large and multivariate data sets which are difficult to visualize; data are inherently dynamic (just as sound is); and the appealing nature of sound supports communication to a broad public.
SysSon software has been released in November 2015 (Vs. 1.7.3.) as open source software resulting from the project (see github for information and download). It allows to sonify and plot climate data (format: NetCDF files; the tool allows also to convert spreadsheets into NetCDF). Three template sonifications are provided online for immediate use with an interactive GUI. Furthermore, the tool is extendable with any sonification patch over an interactive shell. The SysSon wiki includes the User Manual, Software installation, files for the Science By Ear Workshop 2014, and the Release Workshop 2015.
SysSon was a cooperative project with three institutions involved:
Institute for Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM)
The project SysSon was mainly hosted at the IEM - a multidisciplinary institution, whose general mission is to bridge the gap between science and the arts in the field of audio engineering. In the last years, the institute developed a research focus on sonification.
Hanns Holger Rutz
Wegener Center for Climate and Global Change (WegCenter)
The WegCenter is an interdisciplinary, internationally oriented research center at the University of Graz focusing on "Climate, Environmental, and Global Change". In total, 25 members of its staff took part in the SysSon project as test subjects.
Andrea K. Steiner
Centre for Systematic Musicology (SysMus Graz)
SysMus Graz conducts research and teaching in all areas of systematic musicology, focusing on music psychology. The centre also promotes interdisciplinary interactions among systematic musicology, its “parent disciplines” (e.g. psychology), and other musical disciplines (e.g. ethnomusicology).