The quantified self, the sonified self

The idea of the quantified self is not a new one at all. Capturing data on steps, heart rate, weight etc is something that a lot of people do on a regular basis. I’ve been slowly taking this on board for over a year. It started with just step counting but now extends to all manner of data. However, in the last few months I’ve began to extend this into a new concept which I call ‘the sonified self’, that might be something that already exists, but if it does I’m not aware of it. This involved the capture of data, again like steps, motion, heart rate etc and turning that data into sound, or in fact music when that’s possible

I’ve been experimenting with this idea for a few months now, and more recently I think some of my experiments have got to the point where I might even share them. Not in this post, but perhaps in the coming weeks.

Before I do share some of the experimental output I plan to go into more detail about how the process works for me, or at least the component parts of the process and the technologies involved in it. As you might imagine the process involves a number of different devices and apps. However, in the centre of all of this is an app called Holonist. Holonist is in many ways the operating system for my ‘sonified self’ concept. Without it the whole process would not hang together at all.

Holonist really deserves a post all on its own. It’s a complex piece of software and I have barely scratched the surface of it. There’s a lot more to learn and experiment with, and I’m very aware that I am at the start of what could be a long journey.

The next post on this topic will probably focus entirely on the Holonist app itself, after that I’ll cover the process, and, hopefully by then I’ll be able to share some output.

Standing Stones and Electromagnetic Waves

This has been something I’ve been meaning to experiment with for some time now. Last year I bought an ‘Ether’ device to experiment with electromagnetic waves. I was really taken with the sounds that were in the videos of the ‘Ether’ device, and it was impressive.

So far I haven’t used the Ether as much as I’d hoped. But one of the things that I wanted to try out was the electromagnetic waves that might be given off by stone circles. A bit strange you might think. Or maybe not.

My first, and probably most nonsensical thought was to try at Stone Henge. I’ve been there before and you can’t get anywhere near the stones. So I emailed English Heritage. No response. Not a massive surprise though. I had thought that they’d at least do me the courtesy of replying, but no. Nothing at all.

The next possibility was to try a stone circle where you can get right up to the stones. Hence Avebury. The Avebury circle is in fact older than Stone Henge. So I thought I’d give this a go. I took my gear and got up close.

The device I use for this is an ‘ether‘. I’ve had this for over a year now. It’s an interesting device, and, when I have used it, I’ve found the output very interesting. However, I haven’t found a real place for it in my creative workflow. Hopefully I will at some point, but I think that I probably need to do some more research.

Avebury

Anyway, back to the stones at Avebury. I hadn’t researched the composition of the stones at Avebury. If I had, I would have expected the outcome I got. Which was basically nothing. The best I could get was that the stones effectively acted as big radio receiver. I suppose that in itself was interesting, but not really what I’d wanted.

So that’s that really. I need to think about another use for the device. When I do I expect I’ll write about it.

Whilst you’re here, I thought I’d let you know about my field recordings podcast. You can find this on Apple’s podcast platform, Breaker, Castbox, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, RadioPublic, Stitcher, and also Spotify.

And the plants are singing to me

If this doesn’t mean anything to you then don’t worry. I have to admit it’s a very obscure niche. Sonifying the bio data from plants might seem odd, esoteric even, but to me it’s something really interesting.

I remember seeing MIDI Sprout on Kickstarter, but felt that the price point was prohibitive. However, I always felt that it was something that I wanted to try out. So I watched for one on eBay, and finally one came up at a reasonable price. So I bought it and it worked beautifully.

The little video is with a coffee plant. My plan is to try the MIDI Sprout with a range of different plants to see if there are noticeable differences in each plant’s musical output. As and when I do I’ll post the results. Probably with video too.

However, this isn’t the only kind of sonification project I have on the go, but more of that another time.

Uncommon Deities

This is undoubtedly my favourite album of all time. It is a work of tremendous and rare beauty, and every time I listen to it I am stunned by just how complete and unique it is.

I listen to it only when I have the time to devote myself entirely to listening to it without distraction, as it just isn’t the kind of music that you can listen to in the background. At least that’s my opinion.

However, I’ve recently just sat down and read the poems that are an integral part of Uncommon Deities. On their own they are incredibly beautiful. As a part of the whole they’re even better. But even so, I really enjoyed reading them in isolation.

Mute Synth 4.0

I’ve been a fan of the Mute Synth from Dirty Electronics since the very first one. I’ve got 3 now, Mute Synth 1, Mute Synth 2.0, and now the 4.0. It’s certainly the most complex of the Mute range, and, after a very brief play I think it has some very interesting possibilities.

I’m also interested to see how it can work with Mute Synth 2.0. Hopefully I’ll get to experiment with that in the not too distant future.

Music from the Forbidden Planet

The Forbidden Planet is one of the most amazing science fiction films. One of the best elements is the music, or rather the soundscapes. From when I first saw the movie I loved how it sounded. Electronic Sound magazine published this 7″ and I knew I had to have it. It’s a lovely disk.

They also published a piece on the music in their magazine. It was a really good read too.

Colossus Sequencer and Synth, it’s been too long …

Colossus Synth
Colossus Synth

Colossus Sequencer
Colossus Sequencer

I actually got these two working a long time ago, and they do work quite well, if being a bit limited, but they’re fun and that’s fine.

However, I was thinking the other day that I should give it a go with some of the other little modular things I have. The colossus sequencer has a CV out so should work with some of my other bits and pieces.

There’s an experiment or two in there I think.

Messing around the with Molecule

IMG_2230

It’s been an age since I used my molecule synth, and I was surprised to find that it actually still powered up too. It powered by batteries, 9 volt PP3 batteries, and they all still work. That’s quite impressive.

Anyway, it’s good to get back to it and experiment with it a bit again. It feels like there’s a lot more to experiment with too. So expect some more on this soon.