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Hidden Music: Sonic Translations of the Biological World

Mermikides, MJ (2011) Hidden Music: Sonic Translations of the Biological World [Composition]

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Abstract

As composer and producer of this 7-track digital album (2011), I am exploring the field of data sonification in that digital audio technology is employed in the systemized translation of biological processes to sound design. As an example, Primal Sound (Track 1) - inspired by Rilke’s 1919 Ur-Geräusch – converts the contour of a coronal suture into musical data thereby “tricking the phonographic needle”. Other data sources include MRI brain scans, blood cell populations during my treatment for leukaemia, microbacterial DNA and tree-ring cycles. Each track involved collaboration with experts and institutions in the relevant field, in order to inform the compositional process, as documented in the accompanying 6,000 word liner notes. The field of data sonification has found resurgence with recent developments in digital audio technology, compositional models and in its theoretical paradigms (e.g. Fernstrom 2009 and Walker & Nees 2011), and this project aims to explore this newly-found potential. Key questions: i) How can traditional and electronic composition, data sonification and collaboration with non-musician scientists most effectively interact? ii) How can one fulfill Hermann’s 4 criteria for sonification (Hermann 2008) and produce work that is engaging to a range of listeners, reflective of the biological process and informative to ‘standard’ compositional practice? iii) Can a work resulting from data sonification be useful beyond its philosophical underpinning, i.e. work as music, disassociated from its origin, and requiring no explanation? Compositional insights and developments include: i) Isologos – the large-scale composition derived from heterogenous translation of a single contour). ii) A complex colour/DNA ‘synaesthetic’ mapping system. iii) A ‘trajectory’ technique of deriving multiple data curves from 3-dimensional structures. iv) The creation of works which engage a range of audiences internationally in sound installations, music and science conferences, and as autonomous pieces (used in TV, radio and film) divorced from an explanatory context. Key questions: i) How can traditional and electronic composition, data sonification and collaboration with non-musician scientists most effectively interact? ii) How can one fulfill Hermann’s 4 criteria for sonification (Hermann 2008) and produce work that is engaging to a range of listeners, reflective of the biological process and informative to ‘standard’ compositional practice? iii) Can a work resulting from data sonification be useful beyond its philosophical underpinning, i.e. work as music, disassociated from its origin, and requiring no explanation? Compositional insights and developments include: i) Isologos – the large-scale composition derived from heterogenous translation of a single contour). ii) A complex colour/DNA ‘synaesthetic’ mapping system. iii) A ‘trajectory’ technique of deriving multiple data curves from 3-dimensional structures. iv) The creation of works which engage a range of audiences internationally in sound installations, music and science conferences, and as autonomous pieces (used in TV, radio and film) divorced from an explanatory context. THe entire album - with 6,000 word liner notes - may be accessed here: http://miltonmermikides.bandcamp.com/album/hidden-music-sonic-translations-of-the-biological-world

Item Type: Composition
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
Mermikides, MJUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : 24 August 2011
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 28 Mar 2017 15:28
Last Modified : 28 Mar 2017 15:28
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/804277

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