[Air-L] Introducing the E-Rhythms Data Sonifier (fwd)

Barry Wellman wellman at chass.utoronto.ca
Wed Jul 9 13:13:31 PDT 2014


   Barry Wellman

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 9 Jul 2014 15:18:18 -0400
From: Jeffrey Boase <jeffrey.boase at ryerson.ca>
Subject: Introducing the E-Rhythms Data Sonifier

Dear friends and colleagues,

As some of you may know, I’ve been thinking about developing a tool for converting time-stamped data into rhythmic sound for some time now. The stars aligned when I met Jack Jamieson last summer. Jack has a background in sound engineering and coding, and he will be starting his PhD at the University of Toronto’s iSchool this fall.

Jack has been leading the development of a “sonification” tool under my direction as part of my E-Rhythms project. This tool has been developed to explore patterns within calling and texting log data. However, it can be used to sonify many kinds of time stamped data, allowing users to flexibly setup a range of filters that can be assigned to multiple tracks.

The E-Rhythms Data Sonifier is available for download here: http://www.ryerson.ca/~jboase/assets/e-rhythms-data-sonifier.dmg
It currently requires Mac OS 10.7.3 or newer, but a Windows version is in the works. You will need to set your Mac to allow the use of apps downloaded from “anywhere” (System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General).

We are now making this software public so please feel free to forward this message to others that may find this of interest.

A more detailed description of the software is below.

Warm regards,

Jeffrey Boase
Associate Professor
School of Professional Communication
Ryerson University


About the E-Rhythms Data Sonifier

The E-Rhythms Data Sonifier software allows you to listen to the rhythms contained within any time-stamped data.

How does it work?

The Data Sonifier works by counting the number of events that take place in a given period, and playing a sound to represent this number.  You can choose the length of the period, which events to count, and how sound output should reflect this number (i.e., by adjusting pitch and/or volume).

For example, if you choose one day (24 hours) as your sample period, you will hear one beat for every day.  One a day with a large number of events, then sound will be more intense, and on with fewer events, it will be less intense (or even silent).  You’ll be able to hear rhythmic patterns on a daily schedule, such as whether activity is different on weekends or other days.  Choosing a shorter sample period, such as one hour or fifteen minutes would allow one to identify rhythms on a finer scale (whether activity change around lunch time, in the evenings and so on).

You can create rules that direct certain types of events to four distinct tracks.  This allows you to compare rhythmic differences between these types of events.  These rules are built according to whatever is already in your data, so no special formatting is required.

Why Not Just Visualize Your Data?

Sound and images are processed differently and may bring to our attention different aspects of the same data. Given that data exploration is subjective in nature, this sonifier was developed to provide another tool that might help researchers recognize patterns that may be less easily recognized when visualized.

Doesn’t Sonification Software Already Exist?

It does. However, we were unable to find software that focuses mainly on the rhythmic aspects of data. We feel that rhythmic sonification is particularly well suited to understanding interactional data that occurs in short busts over time (e.g. mobile texting data). Moreover, we wanted to develop software that was simple to use for social scientists who might be unfamiliar with advanced aspects of sonification, but still want to explore their data using a sonification approach.

Using your data

In order to use your data with the Data Sonifier, all you have to do is save it as a .csv file.  One column of the data must contain a time-stamp, and the data in the other columns can be used for setting up filtering rules.

Formatting for the time stamp column must be consistent across all rows, and should follow one of the following structures:





An example data file is included with the software so you can test it out before converting your data (‘Example data set.csv’ in the ‘example data’ folder).
Detailed instructions are in the ‘ReadMe.docx’ file included with the software.

Software Download


The software currently requires Mac OS 10.7.3 or newer, but a Windows version is in the works. You will need to set your Mac to allow the use of apps downloaded from “anywhere” (System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General).

E-Rhythms Project Information


Questions and Suggestions
If you have any questions about how to use the software or would like report bugs, please e-mail Jack Jamieson (jjamieso at ryerson.ca).

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