Music for Art – Shape and Sound

Music for Art – Shape and Sound

Despite my best efforts to divert Webmaster Dan from his quixotic exploration of the relationship between music and visual art, he dives deeper and deeper. Today the boss discovered several articles at ScienceDaily.com which flesh out substantially, in a non-mathematical way, the EyeMusic SSD. For those of us who lead normal lives (sleeping on sunny parts of the floor, grazing grass, chasing squirrels and rabbits, etc.) a brief refresher on the EyeMusic SSD is probably in order. This sensory substitution device (SSD) translates shape and color information into auditory data, a soundscape, which stimulates the visual cortex of the brain. With some training, a blind person listening to this soundscape will see shapes. The shape and sound algorithm translates images into sound through positional mapping. The x-axis describes left-right position of an object with volume differentiation over time. The y-axis describes high-low position with higher or lower audio frequencies. Apparently the visual cortex approves of the algorithm’s logic, because it is stimulated in the same way it is stimulated by actual visual sensory information.

This dog, for one, is skeptical. The only thing I see when my master whistles for me to come is the flat side of his hand on my butt if I don’t snap to it. But Dan is all hot to trot with this one. He thinks there are exciting implications relating to his music for art. Specifically, he wants to find ways to apply the algorithm to the images for which he writes. He feels that even for a sighted person, some additional dimension of information about the visual subject may be conveyed. If he is describing a cemetery scene, the gaps between tombstones might imply gaps of silence in the audio. Imagine a painting of children looking up at the graven images on Mt. Rushmore. Would higher frequency sections of the audio draw our eye upward to those images. Would it somehow emphasize the height of those images?

There seems little to lose in Dan’s trying some of these new theories out in his composition. After all, hasn’t he used that damn barking dog sound effect enough already! Anything for a change!

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