Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Bonet, Núria. “Musical Borrowing in Sonification.” Organised Sound 24 (August 2019): 184-94.

Sonification, a process of transmitting information through sound, requires a listener to understand the four components of data, mappings, musical language, and emotional content in order to understand the transmitted message. Musification describes sonification for artistic purposes and sonification subjected to musical constraints. Musical borrowing offers one (albeit uncommon) solution to the challenges of successfully communicating data through sonification. Pitch shifting or tempo shifting recordings of familiar songs to map onto a dataset requires little context for a listener to understand, but they can be musically crude. Núria Bonet’s Wasgiischwashäsch (2017) is an orchestrated sonification piece that modifies Rossini’s William Tell Overture based on temperature data in order to convey the extent of climate change in Switzerland. The first movement of Wasgiischwashäsch maps average annual temperature in Switzerland data onto pitch, intervals, and harmony in the third and fourth movements of William Tell; rises in temperature result in rising pitches for high registers and descending pitches for low registers. The second movement maps the differences between the average annual temperature in Switzerland and the global average annual temperature to tempo; rises in temperature difference result in slower tempos with the final tempo reaching 40 beats per minute. The two datasets are not absolutely mapped to musical parameters, and some artistic liberties have been taken to emphasize the higher-level meaning of the data. Musical humor and familiarity with the source material are factors in making climate change data tangible through this particular musification.

Works: Nùria Bonet: Wasgiischwashäsch (189-92).

Sources: Rossini: William Tell Overture (189-92).

Index Classifications: 2000s

Contributed by: Matthew Van Vleet

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