CodeSounding, Sonification of Source Code Structure

So much for only posting some links tonight.

I saw this project via Hacker News, which reminded me of two other recent stories. One I shared a while back was video of sonification of various sorting algorithms. The first sample at the CodeSounding project page sounds similar which is surprising to me. A sort algorithm only has a few dimensions of interest, mostly time and relative magnitude of elements being sorted.

The reason I am surprised by the similarity between some of the samples and the very simple sonic space produced from sorting is due to the other recent story, Jonathan Berger’s lecture (mp3 link) on TVO’s Big Ideas about the social ethics of music. In that lecture, he specifically presents sonification of data sets that have a deep social dimension, for instance the spread of the oil plume in the gulf. Berger is a composer so perhaps his work, which uses similar techniques, shows more of his hand as a maker. His finished work definitely is meant to be as evocative in the result as the original input.

However one of the things he said that stuck with me is how music, and sound more generally, is better than visualization for representing multidimensional data. I would expect code to open up much more fully using sonification than the CodeSounding samples represent. Maybe it just wants for a hacker/musician to do a better job mapping the interesting dimensional elements of source code into the sound scape.

Word of warning, I could not find any license information so I suspect it is all rights reserved. That and the fact it takes in Java class and jar files, being written itself in Java, may be a turn off. Or an inspiration for an open source project to do one better.

CodeSounding: computer generated music sounds from a source code structure