Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Iain McGregor; Phil Turner; David Benyon: USING PARTICIPATORY VISUALISATION OF SOUNDSCAPES TO COMPARE DESIGNERS’ AND LISTENERS’ EXPERIENCES OF SOUND DESIGNS
3.2 Design 02: Sonification
Sonification refers to a technique for transforming data into an audible stream that is analogous with data visualisation (Kramer et al. 1999). It can be argued that a sonification method must be objective, systematic, reproducible as well as suitable for use with different data (Hermann 2008). Data can be split into auditory streams where each stream is linked to a specific audio variable such as pitch, volume, note duration, fundamental wave shape, attack (onset) envelope, and overtone (harmonics) wave shape. This can make the data not only more informative, but potentially increase the amount of information that can be transmitted concurrently (Bly 1982).
This soundscape consisted of a 56 second video of an acceleration trace from a four man coxless rowing team sonified using a continuous tone that varied in pitch (Video 1) (Schaffert, Mattes and Effenberg 2010). The sonification is designed to help athletes improve their performance (see Table 5).
VideoObject1: Video 1: Sonification
The designer classified all of these sound events as sound effects, with values of gas for the material, informative for the content, and clear for the clarity attribute. Interactions varied from impulsive to intermittent, with a single instance of continuous (see Figure 4). The listeners were aware of all 8 sound events, and considered all but 1 to be informative. The listeners grouped the materials of the sound events into 1 gas (magenta border), 5 liquid (cyan border), 1 solid (yellow border), and 2 as both liquid and solid (see Figure 5). Listeners experienced a greater range of spectral attributes than the designer.
The sonification could be considered as successful, as almost all of the sound events were considered informative, and listeners were able to distinguish between the differences in pitch (see Table 6). The range of pitch variation could be increased so that it extended into the low range and some form of panning might be considered, if only to move the sound events into the centre of the stereo field. The designer’s and the listeners’ ratings for Type, Dynamics, Clarity and Emotions were identical. The Spectral, Content and Aesthetics attributes only differed slightly. The main differences between the designer’s and listeners’ responses were with the Y axis (depth), Material, Interaction and Temporal attributes. Whilst listeners found all of the elements informative they did experience the sound events as being further away, as well as sounding more liquid like than gas, and the Interaction being more continuous than impulsive.