Sonification and Music, Music and Sonification

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Despite it being more than twenty years since the launch of an international conference series dedicated to its study, there is still much debate over what sonification really is, and especially as regards its relationship to music. A layman’s definition of sonification might be that it is the use of non-speech audio to communicate data, the aural counterpart to visualization. Many researchers have claimed musicality for their sonifications, generally when using data-to-pitch mappings. In 2006 Bennett Hogg and I (Vickers and Hogg 2006) made a rather provocative assertion that bound music and sonification together (q.v., and further developed in Vickers (2006)), not so much to claim an ontological truth but to foreground a debate that has simmered since the first International Conference on Auditory Display (ICAD) in 1992. Since then there has been an increasing number of musical and sonic art compositions driven by the data of natural phenomena, some of which are claimed by their authors to be sonifications. This chapter looks at some of the issues surrounding the relationship between sonification and music and at developments that have the potential to draw sonification and the sonic arts into closer union.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Sounding Art
EditorsMarcel Cobussen, Vincent Meelberg, Barry Truax
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages464
ISBN (Print)978-1-13-878061-3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Aug 2016

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