The following projects by Max Tfirn represent transduction of different kinds of disciplinary data and experiences into sound. These were inspired by presentations and conversations with other Transduction participants. Descriptions of the processes and sound files are found below.

OpenGrounds Exhibit

For the Exhibit many Transduction colleagues submitted sounds taken from their work sites on Grounds. These sounds include typing, talking, coughing, and other everyday sounds one would hear while walking through a library or classroom. Some of the recordings were poor quality and caused lots of noise to be produced. However, the distorted recordings served to add other sounds that people hear while walking. There is a lot of construction on Grounds but none of it was recorded so the distorted sounds after mixing and editing took the place of actual construction sounds. As I was putting the sounds together, I decided that I wanted there to be a certain amount of chaos and change in sound densities. Making the sounds flow and seem as natural as possible was top priority. I wanted the sound to be like a sound installation in which the listeners can’t tell if the sound where they are standing is the environment or part of the composed installation.


Oxygen Maps

The first project that I took on while in Transduction involved taking video data from luminescent oxygen sensing materials generated in the Fraser Lab and sonifying it. One very important aspect of this project is to make sure that the sound reflects or evolves with the video. While sonification of data is used in music composition, it is also used in different science fields as a way of understanding intricate processes without analyzing large quantities of data. The chemistry video did not provide a large amount of data to work with, however, pixel data that is not normally analyzed by composers has ample amounts of data. The camera RGB data at each pixel is critical for generating a dynamic oxygen map of tissue, for example. The pixel data shows the oxygen levels at different points in time. To accurately and auditorally use the pixel data, the video was converted into grey scale and inverted.  This allows the computer to look at the amount of greyness in the pixels and use it to control where in a table of values to gather information and create sound.


Chem Sound crop

E. coli

The E. coli project was inspired by the presentation of Rosanne Ford on bacterial chemotaxis. It took a mathematical model that described the movement of bacteria illustrated in the figures below and used it to create sound. Each variable is given a static audio signal to run through the equation. The product creates a sound that changes in time up until a certain point and then repeats.

Monte Carlo
Bacteria Trajectory



The image below shows bacterial pattern formation in response to chemical gradients.

Bacteria Pattern Formation

Physics Equations

While in Transduction, in conversation with Evan Wolfe, I was suddenly inspired to use physics equations as a source of sound. In order to do this, each variable in the equation is represented by an audio rate signal and follows the order of operations to sequence all the variables together in the appropriate order. By using an audio rate, sound samples are manipulated by the equation opposed to a number being altered. This creates rich timbres that follow the trajectory of the equation. This also creates functions in the timbre that can be heard immediately compared to just manipulating a number, which would be a bump in frequency or something not as complex or interesting.


Standing Wave Crop

The picture above is the sound spectrum of an equation that uses the formula for a standing wave. One can see that the formula, when approached in my method, creates a spectrum that looks like a wave but instead of being a frequency, the wave is comprised of cascading frequencies that ascend and descend.

equation implementation crop

The picture above shows the high-level programming for the standing wave sound.  In this picture each variable is represented by a cycle~ and a number. The cycle~ is creating a sine tone which is then going into gen~. Gen~ has the standing wave equation in it and is taking the samples of the sine tone and manipulating them. Cycle~ can be replaced by many different sounds. In the program Max/MSP cycle~ creates a sine tone but another approach could be to use sig~ or some other constant signal object of sound generator.

The flux sound below uses the equation that describes Poynting flux. The method to create this sound is the same as the methods described previously. All of the equation based sounds are part a small self guided study on hearing the differences and similarities in sounds that use the same process but different equations or different but similar sound generators as the variable source.