Hearing Nano-Structures: A Case Study in Timbral Sonification
Hearing Nano-Structures: A Case Study in Timbral Sonification We explore the sonification of x-ray scattering data, which are two-dimensional arrays of intensity whose meaning is obscure and non-intuitive. Direct mapping of the experimental data into sound is found to produce timbral sonifications that, while sacrificing conventional aesthetic appeal, provide a rich auditory landscape for exploration. We discuss the optimization of sonification variables, and speculate on potential real-world applications. We have presented a case study of sonifying x-ray scattering data. Direct mapping of the two-dimensional intensity values of a scattering dataset into the two-dimensional matrix of a sonogram is a natural and information-preserving operation that creates rich sounds. Our work supports the notion that many problems in understanding rather abstract scientific datasets can be ameliorated by adding the auditory modality of sonification. We further emphasize that sonification need not be limited to time-series data: any data matrix is amenable. Timbral sonification is less obviously aesthetic, than tonal sonification, which generate melody, harmony, or rhythm. However these musical sonifications necessarily sacrifice information content for beauty. Timbral sonification is useful because the entire dataset is represented. Non-musicians can understand the data through the overall color of the sound; audio experts can extract more detailed insight by studying all the features of more »
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