I’ve been talking to folks about sonifying or music-i-fying data a lot lately; I even created a soothing, gamelan-like melody from my Gmail spam folder at South by Southwest last spring. But this particular example is, well … special.

I hesitate to share this, because a) YouTube numbers suggest you may have seen it already and b) it’s pretty depressing. On the other hand, it’s not like the fact the economy is depressing is news, exactly, so I suggest we employ the time-tested coping method that is laughter. Thanks (?) to Paul Norheim for this.

It also suggests a pleasing solution: the world economy just has the pitch control set wrong! Just start that turntable up again.

Or, more disturbingly, the fall of the economy is all part of some deep Schenkerian urlinie, a global capitalistic descent to the tonic. (What? No one up for some Friday afternoon theory humor?)

And yes, with apologies to the very-talented Microsoft Songsmith team, your product is becoming the new Hitler meme.

That’s it. We’re out for the weekend. I got nothin’.

  • Lol, he did it again. (Thats the guy that also cut up those 70.200 songs to a 3-minute piece of music and then tried to clear all the samples)

  • it's sad someone lost a great deal of time doing this.

  • This is clearly exactly what Songsmith was created for. It turns the terrible notions conveyed by those graphs into catchy blurbs. The most sickening one was the happy tune of GIs killed in Iraq.

  • poorsod

    Haha I got the Shenkerian analysis joke 😛
    life is one big cadential 64. (i don't even know what that could mean as a metaphor. i'm just sorry)

  • poorsod

    (if anything it's a iv-vii43-i plagal)

  • adamj

    It seems all the graphs are supposed to be bad things. One of them really confused me: Is there something wrong with the growth of the porn industry (2:32)? I wouldn't expect anti-sex attitudes from what seems like an open-minded artist, but maybe I am misinterpreting. If the graph showed the growth of child porn, then it would fit in better… just saying. *shrug* Maybe I'm a perv.

  • For what it's worth, no, I'm not in agreement on everything here. But then, that's sort of interesting: it does actually underline the points being made, even if you disagree with them, to hear them as music. I'm not convinced the "downward" motion of the melody even translates to decline, because we're so used to it — but on the other hand, you do get a different sense of the data when it's underlined like that.

    Read a recent interview with the makers of the game Peggle, who found the feedback of ascending pitches as balls bounce onto pegs made it more addictive. (See also: pinball.) Interesting stuff.

    So, yes, I'm not sure it gives you more insight or that I agree with what he's saying, but I think you do get *something* — even something irrational — the graphs alone don't provide.

  • claviclaws

    Finally, Richard MacDuff^H^H^H^H^H Douglas Adams' work from 1987 is realised…

  • LOL at the schenkerian analysis humor. genius.

  • Damn, I just watched "Pi – Faith In Chaos" last night (damn, damn, damn good movie BTW).

    And I just googled "Shenkerian Analysis"

    My mind is blown.

    "mathematics is the language of nature", indeed.

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  • ec

    Any plans on updating these with current trends?