Software Auralization


Have you heard the latest track by gzip? Maybe it’ll end up on a “Greatest Hits” album alongside Philip Glass.

Visualization techniques such as animated algorithms can help programmers better grasp the abstract theories that make software work. Could auralization, the sound equivalent of visualization, provide similar insights? Postgrad student (and J. S. Bach fan) [Cessu] developed a program to do just that. By carefully mapping registers to notes, and slowing the tempo to a human timescale, the result is a cacophonous machine that offers a glimpse into the operation of various programs. You might find the resulting minimalist “music” insightful, entertaining…or maybe just incredibly grating.

[thanks Shadikka]

13 thoughts on “Software Auralization

  1. i remember in high school i had a good friend who owned an occiliscope. we hooked it up to his stereo and played pink floyd dark side of the moon through the scope. i remeber looking at the patterns during on particular cut from the album and……….. well anyway it was early 1973 or so and we were young and having fun. seeing this article and others about occiliscopes and running different sounds and stuff through it brought bqack memories.

  2. I used to load executable files into Wavelab and time stretch them back in my younger years. I recently looked at an old notebook and found an entry with some pseudo code for how I could do this with software now. Some kind of synchronicity to see someone has done almost exactly what I was planning.

  3. I remember of my first MSX program
    something like that (don’t remember exactly the msx-basic instructions):

    for i=1 to 65535
    a=peak i
    sound a

    With this, I was able to hear the sound of the computer memory (sound takes an argument from 0 to 255 and peak reads the memory at indicated position).

    It made a great music (I found at this time) especially in the beginning of the memory.

    I didn’t remember if I did some cosine loops to slow the things down.

    Should try this in an emulator.

  4. That was amazing! A few months ago a did something similar where I wrote a Java app to play back the “audio” of log files. It was spooky how similar mine sounded to the post.

    I just might dust off my old code for that project and bring it to the next step. I had pondered about being able to parse a body of text like a log file into a midi file. Then having some tool that could allow you to play back the log until you here something interesting. At which point you could read the log to learn more about the anomaly or in my case the stack trace.

  5. cat > /dev/dsp I used to do this all the time when i was messing around with Linux.

    Or under Windows use Audacity to import, and set format to u-Law, 8000Hz, Mono. Explorer.exe sounds cool. Oh and if there are actual audio samples inside you’ll hear them played back between the noise bursts. Freaky.

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