Election Year Madness - Disquiet0032-sonicvote by Jim Hanks published on 2012/08/14 03:55:56 +0000 This one is pretty far out of the box for me. This is my first submission for the Disquiet Junto group. More details on the Disquiet Junto at: http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/info More on the 32nd Disquiet Junto project at: http://disquiet.com/2012/08/09/disquiet0032-sonicvote/ Disquiet Junto Project 0032: Sonified Election Data This week's project revisits the concept of the graphic score, something we explored with earlier in project 0019. You will treat the provided image as if it were a musical score. The image can be found at this link: http://disquiet.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/2012.08-sonicvotetpm.png You can use any instrumentation you choose. (You may employ the human voice, but no comprehensible words should be used, just sounds.) The goal is for you to "read" the image as if it were presented as a piece of notated music. You might do this by assigning note values across the page horizontally, or by interpreting it holistically, or by running the image through a piece of software or by any other systematic approach. Background: The image shows the poll averages for the two major candidates for the upcoming presidential election in the United States. At the far left hand side of the image is October 2010, and at the far right hand side is July 2012. The blue data represents Barack Obama, the red data Mitt Romney. The image is a screenshot taken from the TalkingPointsMemo.com website on August 8. ---- Here was my process: 1. Digitize the individual poll points to use as "harmony" parts and the poll averages to use as "melody" parts. I used an online digitizer (http://arohatgi.info/WebPlotDigitizer/app/ to digitize the data) to get the raw data which I stored in Micrsoft Excel. 2. Using a combination of Excel formulas and Python scripting, the raw data was turned into MIDI pitch (y-axis) and timing values (x-axis) written to a CSV text file that was then processed with midicsv (http://www.fourmilab.ch/webtools/midicsv/) to produce standard MIDI files. 3. The MIDI files were imported into Propellerhead Reason for sequencing and instrumentation. There are 4 tracks: Obama melody and Obama harmony (panned slightly left but perhaps not as far left as really warranted :-o) and Romney melody and harmony (panned slightly right). 4. One interesting part of the process was how to assign MIDI pitch values to the raw data. There are four different passes, with each pass choosing different combination of scale notes for the parts. I tried various scales including chromatic, diatonic ("white keys"), and pentatonic ("black keys" and CDEGA). I threw out the chromatic and "black keys" scales as they were just too discordant to want to listen to (even though that's probably more realistic given the subject matter :-)). But I did want a little of that effect, so I used the phrygian dominant scale for Obama's first melody part. Played against Romney's "white keys" scale there, I think it gives just the right amount of discord. The other three passes are various combinations of the other scales along with some drum loops from Reason for added interest. 5. Mixing and "mastering" was also done in Reason. 6. I wanted to add some improvisation parts like a basso continuo part and some kind of EWI solo but I've run out of time prior to the submission deadline. I may do some more with this piece later.