João Ricardo

CESEM — University of Évora, Portugal;


The academic and artistic circles surrounding sonification have been getting more attention each day, with some semi-viral examples in which one can listen to the «sound of genes» (TEMPLE, 2017) or the «sound of the sun» (ATKINSON & SOSBY 2022). Following a collection and sampling of empirical data from various fields, the creation of sound objects to convey information turns practical and viable, as well as evident and accessible; objects which are but the consequence of random connections with musical vocabulary such as pitch, rhythm, timbre, etc. Composer and researcher Carla Scaletti (2018) states that sonification isn’t music, but music is sonification. Following that argument, this paper aims for a creative communion of both sides of that assertion, proposing to create music that is sonification and sonification that is music. The first stage of this research settles within base categories and concepts regarding soundscape and acoustic ecology practices (KRAUSE 2012): Biophony (sounds generated by organisms), Geophony (non-biological sounds such as the wind, rain, etc.) and Anthropophony (human originated sounds). However, this paper won’t dwell on events inscribed beforehand in these categories. Instead, the goal is to work on data material – and subsequent sonification – whose results may fit in one of the groups mentioned above, closer to a sympathetic link. For example, considering a sound object achieved through sonification and music composition practices from data pertaining the gradual extinction of a specific species as connected to Biophony, the weather conditions or population increase and decrease in a specific site and timeframe suitable for Geophony and Anthropophony respectively, among many other possibilities. In light of the three sound classifications above, the goal is the explore and report the creative results from the combination of the emergent methodologies associated with data sonification and more traditional techniques and practices analogous to music composition. In conclusion, this research aims to display the transmutation of raw “landscape” data into intrinsically musical associations and specifications such as the mentioned pitches or rhythms, but also exploring other possibilities like intervals, micro and macrostructures, etc., while taking into consideration the main consequence of these endeavors: the creation of – despite an underlying program close to a synthetic soundscape – self-standing musical pieces.

Keywords: Composition; Sonification; Soundscapes.


João Ricardo (1993, Portugal) holds a master’s degree in Musical Arts from Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas, Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCSH/UNL) since 2019. He studied composition and analysis with Luís Soldado and attended workshops and masterclasses with Michelle Agnes Magalhães, Jaime Reis, Vincent Debut, Ake Parmerud, Hans Tutschku, among others. His operas were premiered by Inestética Companhia Teatral, Quarteto Contratempus and Operafest Lisboa, and he was the Composer in Residence at Orquestra de Câmara de Cascais e Oeiras for the year 2022. He works regularly with AREPO – Associação de Ópera e Artes Contemporâneas, in score engraving and technical assistance, and is affiliated researcher with Centro de Estudos de Socioloia e Estética Musical (CESEM) since September 2019, and within Grupo de Investigação em Música Contemporânea and Linha de Estudos de Ópera.