A joint project of FNR, Rockhal, LIST and University of Luxembourg transforms scientific data into music in an innovative and experimental approach with the help of data sonification. The aim of the Esch2022 project is to bring the worlds of music and science together at Belval.
The project is centred around the transformation of scientific data into music via data sonification. First scientific data will be collected, then transformed into “bricks” of music, which will then be used by musicians to compose music. Finally, the music will be played to the public in live performances. During the process conferences and communication activities, such as this event, will be organised to engage with the public.
Why the topic of data?
Because data is becoming increasingly important for both society and science, keyword: Big Data. New approaches are therefore becoming increasingly important to analyse and communicate large data sets. The sonification of data is a creative, innovative and experimental approach to doing this. It also provides many opportunities for researchers and musicians to creatively meet and learn from each other.
For Luxembourg, Belval is the country’s most important research location. But for most Luxembourgers, Belval is above all the home of the Rockhal and thus the place where you can experience the biggest concerts. So the former industrial site is equally important for science and music. And with Esch 2022, there is now a very special opportunity to combine these two worlds.
For this reason, the Fonds National de la Recherche (FNR), the Rockhal, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) and the University of Luxembourg (with its research institutes FSTM, C2DH, SnT) have started a collaboration to bring the diverse relationships between science and music closer to the population. This resulted in the project “The Sound of Data – science meets music”, which is specifically about the sonification of data.
How does the project work in concrete terms?
In phase 1, scientists from the University of Luxembourg and LIST will collect data (more detailed information at the end of the press release).
– Traffic data (FSTM of the University of Luxembourg together with LIST)
– Historical data (C2DH of the University of Luxembourg)
– Body Scan Data (SnT of the University of Luxembourg)
– Crowd Sourcing Art Data (FSTM of the University of Luxembourg)
In phase 2, the data will then be converted into musical building blocks by Valery Vermeulen. The Belgian is a musician, music producer, mathematician, visiting professor at the KASK-Conservatory-School of Arts in Ghent and researcher at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Antwerp and is considered one of the pioneers in the field of data sonification.
Finally, phase 3 is about composing pieces of music from these musical building blocks. Musicians from Luxembourg and the Greater Region can register for workshops and a call for applications to be trained by Vermeulen and other experts from the field of electronic sound generation in the use of data sonification at the Rocklab – and then to compose and rehearse their tracks on the Rocklab premises.
In phase 4, the results of this entire process will be presented to the public during a music festival at the Rockhal. Further events are also planned to introduce the public to the interesting interfaces between science and music, as well as the concept of data sonification.
What exactly is “data sonification”?
Sonification is the process of converting data into sounds. The basic principle is similar to visualisation. But while visualisation uses elements such as lines, shapes and colours, sonification relies on sound properties such as volume, pitch and rhythm. So sonification is, in a sense, visualisation for the ears. You take a data set, a type of information, and create sounds from it. Data sonification already has applications in our everyday lives, for example when our car beeps when we reverse or when Geiger counters are used to measure radioactivity.
Transforming data into sound and music can be a powerful tool to engage an audience with a story in a new way and even reach entirely new audiences.
The project created a video explaining what exactly data sonification is: “What is data sonification?”