From Program Music to Sonification: Representation and the Evolution of Music and Language
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Research into the origins of music and language can shed new light on musical representation, including program music and more recent incarnations such as data sonification. Although sonification and program music have different aims—one scientific explication, the other artistic expression—similar techniques, relying on human and animal biology, cognition, and culture, underlie both. Examples include Western composers such as Beethoven and Berlioz, to more recent figures like Messiaen, Stockhausen and Tom Johnson, as well as music theory, semiotics, biology, and data sonifications by myself and others. The common thread connecting these diverse examples is the use of human musicality, in the biomusicological sense, for representation. Links between musicality and representation—dimensions like high/low, long/short, near/far, etc., bridging the real and abstract—can prove useful for researchers, sound designers, and composers.