Sonification - definition

I am in the process of writing about my artistic research project soon to be published. The project revolves around my SC performance software which takes realtime midi- and audio input and turns a single-player performance into an orchestrated performance by adding chords, basslines, rhythms and fxs. I am tempted to describe it as either ‘sonification’ or ‘re-sonification’. I don’t know much about sonification but it seems the term is always used in connection with non-music-related datasets like dna strings, tracking of movement or whatever it might be.

Here is the first paragraph from the wiki entry on Sonification:

Sonification is the use of non-speech audio to convey information or perceptualize data. Auditory perception has advantages in temporal, spatial, amplitude, and frequency resolution that open possibilities as an alternative or complement to visualization techniques.

So by this definition, could you also consider the performance by humans of a piece of written music sonification? Could you consider the playback of a midiroll in DAW for sonification?

I am taking a dataset with one intended, or at lest ‘normal’ meaning and extracting a new layer of meaning based on rules arbitrarily set by me - some are quite intuitive, others not so much. The dataset is music-related to start with, but could I still call this sonification, possibly re-sonification? I do think the performance software perceptualize data, as it highlights and reacts to aspects of the performance, which might otherwise go unnoticed - a repeated sequence of pitches, a crescendo, a repeated sequence of accents, playing in certain subdivision etc.

Any input will be most welcome.


first of all, I’d say have a look at the The Sonification Handbook | edited by Hermann, Hunt, Neuhoff; you will find a lot of different and diverging definitions on sonification in there…
IMHO, a definition is always a little difficult when it comes to such processes and the idea on what qualifies as a sonification varies a lot depending on who you ask.

that said, my current idea of what qualifies for a sonification is determined more by the intention the listener has when listening to a piece of sound:

if the idea is to gain insights about something that lies outside the actual sound (EEG data, the interplay between humans performing a piece of music)m, then it is a sonification. If the intention is to be found within the sound itself, it is something else, possibly even music.
but that’s a different story alltogether :slight_smile:

hope that helps :slight_smile:

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