Sound designers translate air pollution into music – News

Scientists created music based on air pollution data from urban and rural areas at different times of the day.

The project, named “Sounding Out Pollution”, is made up of three parts. The first is based on pollution statistics from across the UK, contrasting rural and urban areas. They then turned this information into music using a range of instruments and genres.

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The second graph shows how air pollution in the West Midlands fluctuates from hour to hour. The third shows how the quality of the air we breathe varies dramatically when traveling from the rural outskirts of Birmingham to the city centre.

Speaking about the uniqueness of the project, Dr Catherine Muller, Project Manager for WM-Air, said: “We are all aware that air pollution is harmful and affects us all – but because that it’s invisible, it’s hard to maintain that awareness. Sounding Out Pollution gives people a new perspective on pollution – and perhaps an incentive to walk occasionally or choose public transport over riding in a car.”

Sound artist Robert Jarvis is working on the project – since the early 1990s Jarvis has worked as a composer, performer and guitarist, winning two British Composer Awards.

This isn’t the first time Jarvis has used music to draw attention to crucial causes. Its installation SONORA V19 is a good interpretation of the number of active cases of COVID-19 reported daily in 19 countries.

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Robert Jarvis said, “Sound is often a vivid means of expressing data that is normally presented by one of the other senses. Maybe through years of listening to music, people are pretty good at deciphering sound information.

“As a result, by using audio in this way, we can quickly form new understandings. I hope Sounding Out Pollution provides a useful way to learn how our immediate environment is changed by the choices we make.”

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Professor William Bloss added to this and said: “Hearing how air pollution Varying levels can help us understand how the air we breathe changes depending on location and time of day.

“For example, some air pollutants are closely related to road traffic – others less so. Polluting helps people understand these differences, and thus make decisions that may affect their exposure to air pollution.”

The work is part of the university’s The Air We Breathe exhibition. For more information, visit the University of Birmingham website website.


Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag’s digital intern, follow her on Twitter

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