Sonification of Symbolic Music in the Elvis Project
Winters, R. Michael
Cumming, Julie E.
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This paper presents the development of sonification in the ELVIS project, a collaboration in interdisciplinary musicology targeting large databases of symbolic music and tools for their systematic analysis. An sonification interface was created to rapidly explore and analyze collections of musical intervals originating from various composers, genres, and styles. The interface visually displays imported musical data as a sound-file, and maps data events to individual short, discrete pitches or intervals. The user can interact with the data by visually zoom in, making selections, playing through the data at various speeds, and adjusting the transposition and frequency spread of the pitches to maximize acoustic comfort and clarity. A study is presented in which rapid pitchmapping is applied to compare differences between similar corpora. A group of 11 participants were able to correctly order collections of sonifications for three composers (Monteverdi, Bach, and Beethoven) and three presentation speeds (10², 10³, and 10⁴ notes/second). Benefits of sonification are discussed including the ability to quickly differentiate composers, find non-obvious patterns in the data, and ‘direct mapping’. The interface is made available as a MacOSX standalone application written in Super- Collider.