Bill Manaris : Fall 2012 / CSCI 180 Homework 4

Assigned: Monday, Oct. 29, 2012
Due Date: Monday, Nov. 12
Due Time: 10:55am

Last modified on November 07, 2012, at 12:47 PM (see updates)

This is a pair-programming assignment (i.e., you may work with one partner). You may discuss the assignment only with your partner or the instructor.


This assignment focuses on:


Music and Nature/Nature and Music

According to Scaletti [1],

[t]he idea of representing data in sound is an ancient one. For the ancient Greeks music was not an art-for-art's sake, practiced in a vacuum, but a manifestation of the same ratios and relationships as those found in geometry or in the positions and behaviors of the planets.

Pythagoras, Plato, and Aristotle worked on quantitative expressions of proportion and beauty, as observed in nature, such as the golden ratio. Pythagoreans, for instance, quantified harmonious musical intervals in terms of proportions (ratios) of the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. This scale became the basis for the well-tempered scales refined by J.S. Bach and others - the scales used in Western music.

Data Sonification

According to Wikipedia [2],

Sonification is the use of non-speech audio to convey information or perceptualize data. Due to the specifics of auditory perception, such as temporal and pressure resolution, it forms an interesting alternative to visualization techniques, gaining importance in various disciplines. It has been well established for a long time already as Auditory Display in situations that require a constant awareness of some information (e.g. vital body functions during an operation).
One of the first successful applications of the sonification is the well-known Geiger counter, a device measuring ionizing radiation. Amount of audible clicks is directly dependent on the radiation level in immediate vicinity of the device.


Create a musical piece using random elements and/or data sonification. The piece should be:


Use the following examples for inspiration:

Nathalie Miebach and Weather Data

Nathalie Miebach is a Boston-based artist who translates weather data into complex sculptures and musical scores:

Echo Movement and Astronomical Data

Echo Movement, originally a band with strong reggae foundation, uses music generated from astronomical data in its new album, Love and the Human Outreach. The title track includes a sonification made by Georgia Tech researchers, who mapped data from the dimming and brightening of the binary star Kepler 4665989 and converted it into sound:

Biosignal (Big-Data) Sonification

Figures 1 and 2 visualize the beginning of this data file of biosignals.

Fig. 1 Sample raw heart data.

Fig. 2 Sample SCL data.

Here is the melody from mapping heart data to pitch.


Follow the Golden Rule of Style: "A program should be as easy for a human being to read and understand as it is for a computer to execute." [1]

In general, you should comment any variable, obscure statement, block of code, etc. you create.

Additionally, your code should always include opening comments as follows:

#   Author:    "Your names"
#   Email:      "Your email addresses"
#   Class:      CSCI 180
#   Assignment: HMWK4
#   Due Date:  The assignment's due date
#   Certification of Authenticity:     
#     < ! Delete one of the two statements below - also delete this comment ! >
#      We certify that this lab is entirely our own work.
#      We certify that this lab is our own work, but we received
#      some assistance from:  "add people's names, Web links, or other references"
#   Purpose: < ! Replace this comment with a simple, yet complete description of
#         what your program does - e.g., "This program plays Chopen's Nocturne,
#         Op 72. No. 1."  The description may be several sentences long. ! >


You will submit your assignment via OAKS. Be prepared to demo your music to the rest of the class. Your submission consists of:

  1. Your Python program. Give it a meaningful name.
  2. The MIDI file generated from your program.
  3. Any data files used by your program.
  4. Provide documentation (URLs, etc.) of where you got your data.

Provide everything necessary for me to be able and generate your MIDI file from scratch, through your submission, if I wanted to check things out.


Your grade will be based on how well you followed the above instructions, and the depth/quality of your work.

Relevant Quote

"Any amount of work can be done in any amount of time... only the quality varies." ~Joao Meidanis


  1. Quote from Carla Scaletti, "Sonification - An Ancient Idea Made Feasible by New Technology", ACM SIGRAPH '93 - Course Notes 81, Aug. 1993, p. 4.2.
  2. Sonification, Wikipedia entry, accessed Sep. 2, 2005.
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