Unheard is my graduation project for the Media Technology programme. It was made in max5. I cannot explain the project better than in the paper abstract:

This research takes a practical approach to the visualization of sound: the extension of the ubiquitous waveform figure with textures, lines and colours results in an approximating and compact representation of sound samples within a musical context. Auditive properties can thus be ’read’ to a certain extent, making it possible to estimate the musical possibilities of the sounds by sight, without necessarily having listened to them. Perceptual sound features are being analyzed and their values mapped to visual features using mostly intuitive and non-technical audio-visual correspondences based partly on empirical perception studies. This system was put to the test in a live performance in which a piece of music was composed on the spot out of previously unheard sounds.

A waveform image such as this:

will be transformed by the program into the following:

which contains much more usable information about the sound (if you know how to interpret it). This visualization would be used in a live setting such as that of Ella Empress and the Layers of Reality, where new sound samples are constantly coming into your laptop, and the sooner you can use the sounds in the music, the better.

After my graduation, I sadly have not worked on Unheard anymore. One practical obstacle to using the program in real-life situation is the low performance speed of mostly the graphical operations, which causes long waiting times during usage.

Leave a Reply