Chapter 12: Audification

by Florian Dombois and Gerhard Eckel


This chapter introduces the sonification technique of Audification. Some definitions are given, an overview of the history of Audification in the Sciences and in the Arts and an extensive description of how to make use of this sonification technique.

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Download the chapter: TheSonificationHandbook-chapter12 (PDF, 1.5M)

Media Examples

Example S12.1: Bat call (inaudible)
The bat calls are too high for the human ear (which hears frequency from 60 Hz up to 20 kHz).

media file S12.1
download: SHB-S12.1 (mp3, 5.3M)

Example S12.2: Bat call (audible)
The first sample has been pitched down 3 octaves, so it’s in the audible rage.

media file S12.2
download: SHB-S12.2 (mp3, 725k)

Example S12.3: Earthquake
Sample from the website This is a audification of the tōhoku earthquake in Japan in march 2011. Seismic waves look very similar the audio waves, but there are much slower. By playing them faster, the seismic movements can become audible.

media file S12.3
download: SHB-S12.3 (mp3, 721k)

Example S12.4: EEG-Data
Sample from the website Audification of Alpha-recordings (acceleration factor 4).

media file S12.4
download: SHB-S12.4 (mp3, 262k)

Example S12.5: Fax machine
Sound of an early fax machine.

media file S12.5
download: SHB-S12.5 (mp3, 119k)

Example S12.6: Computer modem
Sound of a early computer modem from the ’90s.

media file S12.6
download: SHB-S12.6 (mp3, 446k)

Example S12.7: Stethoscope
A heartbeat through a stethoscope, one of the most common tools for audification.

media file S12.7
download: SHB-S12.7 (mp3, 1.2M)

Example S12.8: Geiger counter
Sample of the detector for nuclear radiation, invented by Hans Geiger and his assistant Walther Müller in 1928.

media file S12.8
download: SHB-S12.8 (mp3, 57k)

Example S12.9: Sci-fi
From the TV series „Battlestar Galactica“ (1978), including a vocoder.

media file S12.9
download: SHB-S12.9 (mp3, 74k)
source: from the 70’s sci-fi series “Cylon (Battlestar Galactica)”

Example S12.10: Autobahn
Hütter, Ralf; Schneider, Florian; Schult, Emil (Kraftwerk): „Autobahn“ from the album „Autobahn“ (1974).

media file S12.10
download: SHB-S12.10 (mp3, 618k)
source: Philips (6305 231).

Example S12.11: Theremin
Leon Theremin plays his own instrument in a TV feature (piano accompaniment)

media file S12.11
download: SHB-S12.11 (mp3, 483k)

Example S12.12: Ondes Martenot
Jean Laurendeau plays “Turangalîla-Symphonie” by Olivier Messien on an Ondes Martenot.

media file S12.12
download: SHB-S12.12 (mp3, 229k)

Example S12.13: Trautonium
The early electronic instrument is played by the german composer Oskar Sala in dutch television (piano accompaniment).

media file S12.13
download: SHB-S12.13 (mp3, 483k)

Example S12.14: BAT
Müller, Wolfgang: Track 1 from “BAT” (1989).

media file S12.14
download: SHB-S12.14 (mp3, 725k)
source: Die Tödliche Doris (Doris Nr. 009).

Example S12.15: Correlation patterns in coupled spiking neuron models

Audification of weakly-coupled Fitz-Hugh Nagumo neuron models.
Description: This sound is rendered for checking how capable audification is to assist the differentiation of correlation patterns between two spiking neurons, here represented on the left and right audio channel.

media file S12.15
download: SHB-S12.15 (mp3, 98k)
source: Gerold Baier, Thomas Hermann, Oscar Manuel Lara and Markus Müller (2005). USING SONIFICATION TO DETECT WEAK CROSS- CORRELATIONS IN COUPLED EXCITABLE SYSTEMS. ICAD 2005.

Example S12.16: Selected Earthquake Recordings
Sound Examples of Chris Hayward’s contribution “Listening to the Earth Sing” from 1994 (Track 82, 00:03 – 00:25)

media file S12.16
download: SHB-S12.16 (mp3, 492k)
source: CD-Appendix of Gregory Kramer (ed.): Auditory Display. Reading MA, 1994

Example S12.17: Dombois “Earthquake sounds”
Kobe Earthquake 1994 accelerated by 2’200 times.

media file S12.17
download: SHB-S12.17 (mp3, 168k)
source: Florian Dombois: “Earthquake Sounds. Volume 1: Kobe 16.1.1995, 20:46 ut”. St. Augustin, 1999. (Audio CD)

Example S12.18: Kubisch “Electronic Walks”
Kubisch, Christina: Acoustic excerpt from the sound installation “Electrical Walks” (2003).

media file S12.18
download: SHB-S12.18 (mp3, 483k)

Example S12.19: Dombois “Circum Pacific 5.1”
3-minutes-excerpt of two channels from the sound installation (left Antarctica, right Papua New Guinea).

media file S12.19
download: SHB-S12.19 (mp3, 2.9M)
source: Florian Dombois: “Circum Pacific 5.1” 2003 (Sound installation)

Example S12.20: Brand “G-Player”
Brand, Jens: Acoustic excerpt from the mixed media installation “G-Player” (2004).

media file S12.20
download: SHB-S12.20 (mp3, 483k)