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  • Monday, September 26, 2016

    The Sonification Of Climate Change

    The haunting song of climate change, in D minor

    Brian Kahn, September 25, 2016 (Grist)

    “…Music based on data has the potential to reveal new patterns to scientists…[Nik Sawe used a technique called data sonification to make music from data on] multiple types of trees in the forest and a clear progression of climate change killing off yellow cedars. Rising temperatures are decimating snowpack, but when still frequent cold snaps hit, there’s not enough insulation to protect the cedar’s shallow roots, so they die…[This odd death by freezing in a warming world] could have profound impacts on one of the most culturally and economically important trees in Alaska…That’s why Sawe picked up [Lauren] Oakes’ data and turned it into tunes.

    Though a computer played the music, Sawe helped arrange the piece so it made sense. He assigned different trees to different instruments based on their role in the forest (though in the case of sitka spruce, he assigned it to the cello because it’s a common wood used in cello construction) and a key so all the players were on the same page (in this case, a rather foreboding D minor)…Each note in the piece is a single tree from one of Oakes’ study sites while its pitch conveys the age and loudness conveys its size…[I]t may serve as a reminder that we’re all composers and our choices will define what the next movement sounds like.” click here for more

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