The lessons of history are clear. The more exotic, the more abstract the knowledge, the more profound will be its consequences.” Leon Lederman, from an address to the Franklin Institute, 1995
|BBC article-Click on Image|
Sonification is the use of non-speech audio to convey information or perceptualize data. Due to the specifics of auditory perception, such as temporal and pressure resolution, it forms an interesting alternative or complement to visualization techniques, gaining importance in various disciplines. It has been well established for a long time already as Auditory Display in situations that require a constant awareness of some information (e.g. vital body functions during an operation). Sonification as a method for exploration of data and scientific modeling is a current and ongoing research desideratum.
One of the first successful applications of sonification is the well-known Geiger counter, a device measuring ionizing radiation. The number and frequency of audible clicks are directly dependent on the radiation level in the immediate vicinity of the device.
Sonification is an interdisciplinary field combining:
- algorithmic composition / sound art
- epistemology and sociology of science
- mathematics and computer science
- sound engineering
Some existing applications and projects
- Geiger counter
- medical and cockpit auditory displays
- Auditory thermometer 
- Volcanic activity detection
- auditory altimeter, also used in skydiving
- Storm and weather sonification 
- Speed alarm in motor vehicles
- Space Physics 
- Interactive sonification
Many different components can be altered to change the user’s perception of the sound, and in turn, their perception of the underlying information being portrayed. Often, an increase or decrease in some level in this information is indicated by an increase or decrease in pitch, amplitude or tempo, but could also be indicated by varying other less commonly used components. For example, a stock market price could be portrayed by rising pitch as the stock price rose, and lowering pitch as it fell. To allow the user to determine that more than one stock was being portrayed, different timbres or brightnesses might be used for the different stocks, or they may be played to the user from different points in space, for example, through different sides of their headphones.
Many studies have been undertaken to try to find the best techniques for various types of information to be presented, and as yet, no conclusive set of techniques to be used has been formulated. As the area of sonification is still considered to be in its infancy, current studies are working towards determining the best set of sound components to vary in different situations.
Several different techniques for rendering auditory data representations can be categorized:
- Auditory icons
- Parameter Mapping Sonification
- Model-Based Sonification
- Stream-Based Sonification
- ^ Thomas Hermann, Andy Hunt, and Sandra Pauletto. Interacting with Sonification Systems: Closing the Loop. Eighth International Conference on Information Visualisation (IV’04) : 879-884. Available: . DOI= http://doi.ieeecomputersociety.org/10.1109/IV.2004.1320244.
- ^ Thomas Hermann, and Andy Hunt. The Importance of Interaction in Sonification. Proceedings of ICAD Tenth Meeting of the International Conference on Auditory Display, Sydney, Australia, July 6–9, 2004. Available: 
- ^ Sandra Pauletto and Andy Hunt. A Toolkit for Interactive Sonification. Proceedings of ICAD Tenth Meeting of the International Conference on Auditory Display, Sydney, Australia, July 6–9, 2004. Available: .
- International Community for Auditory Display
- Sonification Report (1997) provides an introduction to the status of the field and current research agendas.
- SonEnvir general sonification environment
- Sonification.de provides information about Sonification and Auditory Display, links to interesting event and related projects
- Auditory Information Design, PhD Thesis by Stephen Barrass 1998, User Centred Approach to Designing Sonifications.
- Sonification for Exploratory Data Analysis, PhD Thesis by Thomas Hermann 2002, developing Model Based Sonfication.
- Sonification of Mobile and Wireless Communications
- Interactive Sonification a hub to news and upcoming events in the field of interactive sonification
- zero-th space-time association
- CodeSounding — an open source sonification framework which makes possible to hear how any existing Java program “sounds like”, by assigning instruments and pitches to code statements (if, for, etc) and playing them as they are executed at runtime. In this way the flowing of execution is played as a flow of music and its rhythm changes depending on user interaction.
- LYCAY, a Java library for sonification of Java source code
- WebMelody, a system for sonification of activity of web servers.
- Sonification of a Cantor set 
- Volcanoes may reveal secrets through ‘song’ (New Scientist)
- Sound of science (New Scientist) discusses many applications of sonification
- Sonification Sandbox v.3.0, a Java program to convert datasets to sounds, GT Sonification Lab, School of Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology.
- Infrasound Laboratory of Hawaii (sounds)
- xSonify a Java application to display numerical data as sound, Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA
- Program Sonification using Java, an online chapter (with code) explaining how to implement sonification using speech synthesis, MIDI note generation, and audio clips.
- Earthquake Sonification using USGS XML feed and sound synthesis software.
This recording was produced by converting into audible sounds some of the radar echoes received by Huygens during the last few kilometers of its descent onto Titan. As the probe approaches the ground, both the pitch and intensity increase. Scientists will use intensity of the echoes to speculate about the nature of the surface.
The Cosmos sings with many strong gravitational voices, causing ripples in the fabric of space and time that carry the message of tremendous astronomical events: the rapid dances of closely orbiting stellar remnants, the mergers of massive black holes millions of times heavier than the Sun, the aftermath of the Big Bang. These ripples are the gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein’s 1915 general relativity; nearly one century later, it is now possible to detect them. Gravitational waves will give us an entirely new way to observe and understand the Universe, enhancing and complementing the insights of conventional astronomy.