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    • The Four Seasons is a group of four musical compositions by Antonio Vivaldi. Each individual composition corresponds to one of the four seasons. Wikipedia has this to say about them:

      They were a revolution in musical conception: in them Vivaldi represented flowing creeks, singing birds (of different species, each specifically characterized), a shepherd and his barking dog, buzzing flies, storms, drunken dancers, hunting parties from both the hunters' and the prey's point of view, frozen landscapes, and warm winter fires.

      You can listen to the whole concert here:

      This Saturday, the Elbphilharmonie-Orchester (Hamburg, Germany) will perform this music - with a twist. Instead of the original "Four Seasons by Vivaldi", they are going to perform "For Seasons by Data". According to a trailer I saw just yesterday, they worked with a team of sound-artists, software-developers and musical arrangers to translate climate data of the last 300 years into changes to the original Vivaldi composition: rises in temperatures and in the number of extreme weather events lead to a much more jarring composition, and the fact that about 15% of bird species have become extinct since the composition of this music is translated into a removal of an equal amount of melody.

      You can read more about this idea and also find a link to a livestream (November 16, 5:30PM CET) here. The livestream link goes to a page in german, which currently shows the trailer with a snippet of the music:

    • When I was in high school, kids would play songs on vinyl backwards in order to hear supposed Satanic messages. (Perhaps it was Joe Biden’s recent admonition to listen to the record player more often at home that got me thinking of this.)

      When I was in college, I had a friend ask me to listen to a composition by John Cage. Cage is an American composer best known for 4’33”,

      which is performed in the absence of deliberate sound; musicians who present the work do nothing aside from being present for the duration specified by the title. (wiki)

      I believe the piece we listened to was ten minutes long of shards of glass being randomly dropped into a bucket. I think I ruined the evening for the friend by not being as enthusiastic about the piece as he.

      I wonder if creating music 🎶 by computer algorithm is still considered art.

      Will the concert create positive action towards combating climate change?

      Or is it an opportunity for like-minded souls to share community and commiseration?

    • Will the concert create positive action towards combating climate change?

      Or is it an opportunity for like-minded souls to share community and commiseration?

      I think awareness about some problem is important - not as important as solving the problem, but it is often a necessary first step.

      Just yesterday I visited a presentation by a climate expert, held for regular citizens of a small town in Germany. In his presentation, the expert showed all the valid charts with both temperatures and carbon dioxide emissions running off in the future compared to some past three-decade average, with sea levels rising, with cold water krill being replaced by warm water krill throughout the last decades, with big numbers in general and with crazy letter soup looking like "GtCO2 yr⁻¹" or "3.5mm±0.7mm yr⁻¹".

      All of that meant something to me, but I could clearly feel the enthusiasm being sucked out of the room as the expert spoke, simply because not everyone understood what the various graphs and figures actually meant, and whether the situation was actually as dire as some people say.

      This is why, for example, the Warming Stripes graphic I talked about here:

      is a much better way to get across the idea of "constant warming that will eventually no longer be a fun thing" than a graph with complicated labels, error bars, mentions of crazy science stuff like deltas and standard deviations etc.

      We need stuff like that - and just like warming stripes are a way to make data more accessible by visualization, changing a well-known musical composition according to data can make the underlying data more accessible to people as well. I guess this can be considered as a form of sonification:

      So, while performing ugly music at a concert surely won't solve the climate crisis, it can potentially be another piece of the puzzle to make people aware about it in the first place.

    • We need stuff like that - and just like warming stripes are a way to make data more accessible by visualization, changing a well-known musical composition according to data can make the underlying data more accessible to people as well. I guess this can be considered as a form of sonification

      My interests in data science include data viz (data visualizations). I think that’s one of the biggest challenges for data scientists and scientists in general. You spend so much time collecting and analyzing the data that you end up thinking that everyone will get it if you speak in coefficients and p-values.

      My approach to visualizations is to always use a strong conclusion for the chart title instead of a description: “Sales are down 35% in Austin due to shipping delays” is a much better title than “2019 Q3 Sales versus Shipping”.

      Immediately, you know what’s the conclusion and then look at the chart to see if it’s true.

      I also like using color strategically. Your warming stripes graph tells a compelling story without the need for numbers. I’ve found it helpful sometimes to just use two colors: grey for everything else, and red for the data point that should scare you—or at least grab your attention.

      Sonification. My favorite example of sonification is from the late 1980s. A lab testing urine for health issues devised equipment that played a musical note if the results were favorable and a different musical note if there was a problem. This allowed the lab workers to focus their eyes on other work while the specimens went through the analyzer.

    • Right now, I can seriously relate to this. A TEDx committee that I had to rehearse my talk to the other night has now asked me to help get a few talks TED ready and damn it's hard. One of them is from one of the world's top vaccine researchers and what he had to say was incredible if you could manage to understand it, which precious few could. The question is how to transform the talk into something relatable.

      I think the all-time master at it was Hans Rosling.

      Okay, that was sophisticated data visualization. Maybe not everyone can do that. But look what a master he was even without sophisticated visualizations: