Georgia Tech Sonification Lab
School of Psychology - Georgia Institute of Technology

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Auditory Graphs Explained

Simple Auditory Graphs and Context

Note: The following examples are created with the Sonification Sandbox, a cross-platform program written in Java, and available from the Sonification Sandbox Software Page. There is also a Sandbox tutorial page to help you get started.

A visual graph is minimally a relationship between a series of points. The simplest auditory graph is a series of notes. This auditory graph displays an increasing series of points.

The last auditory graph doesn't contain a lot of information. It has no context, such as x and y axes in visual graphs, to ground the graph in a larger environment. The following graph adds a time context, playing every other note.

You can also add context to the data, such as playing the lowest note of the range. As the point increases, the context indicates the distance the point has gone from its lowest value.

This example puts both contexts together. The time context is changed to once every 5 points.

Multiple columns of information

You can play two instruments at once.

The problem with the last example is that it is difficult to distinguish the two lines. One way is to distinguish the instruments.

Advanced options

We can also play different types of expressions. The first auditory graph plays a square function while the second plays a sine function. The examples also demonstrate playing the points at different speeds.

Putting all the graphs together, without context, sounds like this:

Due to the speed of the playback, it is difficult to tell the instruments apart. This example slows down the graph and increases the minimum and maximum playable range.

Auditory Graphs in the real world

Now that you know the basics of auditory graphs, try to apply them to real data. The graph below is a rendition of high and low tides for Baker Bay, Washington, for October 1-14, 2007.


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