Listening to Watling Street

I greatly admire the work of Brian Foo, the ‘Data Driven DJ‘. His ‘Two Trains: A Sonification of Income Inequality on the NYC Subway’ uses data on incomes around the stops on the subway as fodder for an algorithmically generated sound scape that captures (to my mind; I’ve never been to NY) the dynamics of that city. Brian released all of his code and data on Github, and I’ve been playing around with it.

I’ve got big plans.

But I thought you’d enjoy, to start with, my first experiment, which is a sonification of the epigraphic density of Watling Street (also known as Route II of the Antonine Itinerary in Roman Britain). My data is extremely rough (mere counts of inscriptions per town), as I was just trying to understand in the first place how the scripts work. (I’ve got big plans for all of this, as I said). I’ve found a bit of a marching beat; when the song really picks up we’re at the big centres like Eboracum (York), Verulamium (St Albans), Londinium. The script is set for 100 BPM, with 3000 m per beat (the script takes the longitude and latitude for each place and figures out the distance between each one in the sequence, to work out the length etc of the song).

It’s pretty catchy. Hope you enjoy; I’m excited to play with these scripts some more. Thank you Data Driven Dj Brian Foo!

(See the continuation of this experiment here)


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