Digital Fabrication of Acoustic Sonifications

Sonification is the design of sounds to provide useful information. Dataforms are physical objects constructed from digital datasets. Can we combine these ideas to create dataforms with acoustic properties that provide useful information? We will refer to this combination as an acoustic sonification.

Barrass S. (2012) Digital Fabrication of Acoustic Sonifications, Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, September 2012.

Left, Null, Right
Left, Null, Right

This paper explores and develops the idea of acoustic sonification through a series of experiments that map a head-related transfer function (HRTF) dataset measured from a Kemar dummy onto the shape of a bell constructed in three-dimensional CAD software and then digitally fabricated in stainless steel. The tones produced from the left and right HRTF bells are compared against each other and with a null bell. The pitch and timbre of the left and right bells are perceptibly different from each other, and from the null. The spectra of these bells have a double harmonic series that distinguishes them from the null. These results suggest that the HRTF bells could be used to compare and classify HRTF datasets. This conclusion supports the hypothesis that acoustic sonifications could provide useful information about a general range of datasets.

Spectra of Null, Left and Right Bells
Spectra of Null, Left and Right Bells