Sound Visualization Project for Education and Entertainment


Having a great interest in music and sound visualization, I enjoy combining the two for sometimes unexpected results.› This proposal is that of a mobile art and science project combining both human interaction in space and sound visualization.› For this project to remain mobile, the set up would occupy an enclosed space (i.e. a classroom or large room) with microphones monitoring sound levels in a few, distinct locations.› Upon detection of noise or voices, the project would also incorporate a video projection to illustrate a 3-D model or map of the sound waves depending upon the individuals' location within the space.› The purpose of this project is to raise interest and awareness in children of the importance of sound, many times filtered by our sense of hearing.› The visual projection would help form a relationship of sound waves as a continuously changing landscape not usually considered in everyday life. This project is primarily for educational purposes to teach children the fun in sound and music, and to instill in them an appreciation for their own voice and musical values.


Through recent research topics, I have found that sound visualization is nothing new.› Researchers, scientists, and artists alike have all attempted to visualize sound for educational and entertainment purposes.› Recent developments in technology have allowed for computers to even recognize speech patterns of individual persons and musical instruments.› Many other artists have created similar projects with interactive playgrounds, noisemakers, and visual projection to great delight. Bill and Mary Buchen have spent years designing and building interactive sound sculptures across the country.› Stephen Malinowski of Berkeley, California has spent over 20 years in refining what he calls the Music Animation Machine which tracks sound along a timeline, often distinguishing amongst different instruments, key changes, and harmonies produced in a piece.› In this context, sound visualization is an aid for musicians to "see" the composition outside of them hearing and feeling the music. See a quick demo here.› I feel this technology should be more available to children for an early understanding and appreciation of sound and music.


Though sound visualization has become quite advanced with innumerable psychedelic and hallucinogenic effects, I intend to keep the project simple, with actual peak and valley maps of sound picked up by microphones.› For the classroom setting, four microphones at most would be used to monitor sound levels.› These four microphones are then attached to a stereo mixing board to distinguish the levels of each.› From this mixing board are two audio output jacks.› One output is run into an amplifier that will amplify the particiants' sounds into four speakers placed within the room. The other output is wired into a single laptop computer with adequate software for processing the signals from each of the microphones.› The processed sound signals trigger visual displays which are then› projected onto a wall by a single video projector.› The participants are then encouraged to vary their voices in tone, volume, and distance from the microphones.› The interaction of several voices will also affect the visual display of the sound waves.› I feel this presentation of "science" in a visual and fun manner can be a great asset to the classroom learning environment, and a new way for children to relate the invisible with the visible world.


This project would not require uncommon equipment, and is easy to transport within a simple automobile.› The sound visualization model would serve many education purposes--sound and voice appreciation, music and tone recognition, and a visual element often lost in a static textbook.› Funding for this project could be appropriated by individual schools, often with most equipment already available.› Again this project aims to raise interest and awareness in children of the importance of sound, and the visual projection would help form a relationship of sound waves as a continuously changing landscape.

Sources Referenced
San Jose Museum of Art Artist Proposal Review Procedures.› Last viewed March 3, 2003
24HR Art - Proposal Guidelines.› Last viewed March 3, 2003
Music Animation Machine History.› Last view March 3, 2003
Alex Davies link.› Last viewed March 3, 2003
Bill and Mary Buchen link.› Last viewed March 3, 2003