Listen to the sound of data

Mark Last, Anna Usyskin Gorelik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Timestamped observations, generally known as time series, may contain valuable information about a variety of natural and man-made phenomena ranging from weather changes to stock markets. Our capability to collect such data has increased dramatically due to advances in computing and sensory technologies. Visualization is known as a very effective tool for interactive data exploration tasks. In this research, we have tested the hypothesis that musical sonification (the use of musical audio) can serve as a viable alternative to visualization of time-series data whenever the visual representation is unavailable or impossible to use. We have developed a time-series sonification technique, which utilizes some important features of Western tonal music to convert univariate and multivariate time series into a musical equivalent. The technique was used to conduct two online user studies, where the subjects were asked questions about the data behavior by listening to a musical display of time series rather than viewing their visual representation. The results of both studies indicate that our methodology for musical representation of time-dependent data allows most users, including people with low musical hearing ability, to successfully perform a variety of common data exploration tasks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMultimedia Data Mining and Analytics
Subtitle of host publicationDisruptive Innovation
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9783319149981
ISBN (Print)9783319149974
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015


  • Audification
  • Auditory display
  • Auditory interface
  • Exploration
  • Interactive data
  • Musical sonification
  • Segmentation
  • Time series
  • Trend discovery
  • Western tonal music

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (all)
  • Engineering (all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (all)
  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)


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