Sixteen Lines

Abstract: Sixteen Lines was born as a data-visualization project of one of my (most extreme) sonic experiments. The resulting media has been showcased as an audio-visual installation.

Classification: Data Visualization


Sonic Design

A fully notated score was written for a sixteen-piece string orchestra with the intent of a pure exploration of sounds. Three different sets of intonation systems were employed, A = 427 Hz, 440Hz and 449Hz, with each instrument tuned to one of the three. The writing is marked by the use of extreme chromaticism, pitch clusters and dynamic oppositions. Each instrumentalist of the orchestra was then recorded separately: a total of 16 audio files was thus obtained.



Visual Design and Programming

Each instrument is visually represented by a line vertically on the screen. The amplitude of the each recorded string part was mapped to sinusoids, f(x) = A*sin(x), with x being the amplitude of each waveform, A properly scaled to fit approximately 1/16 of the screen size (some asymmetries were applied for aesthetic purposes) and all centered around the horizontal axis. Each sinusoid is then scaled to the input frequency - on a continuous sample-by-sample basis. The visual programming was carried with Quartz Composer: the sixteen audio files were each routed to sixteen individual routines, “node modules” with the illustrated procedures, and, at last, merged together to deliver the desired output.



The developed system may be employed, with the addition of few implementations, as a real-time visualizer in a live performance context. The first and last frames of the showcased fixed media have been set to coincide: in an installation context it is intended to be played in a ‘looping’ modality, to achieve experiential continuity.