an extensive open-source Python framework
for data sonification research and auditory display

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Data sonification component processes

What is SoniPy?

SoniPy is an open-source project for the collection, creation and integration of open-source Python modules for data sonification.

What is data sonification?

The general meaning of the term data sonification is the acoustic representation of data for relational interpretation by listeners, for the purpose of increasing their knowledge of the source from which the data was acquired.

What is information sonification?

The term Data sonification does fully describe what occurs in practice, namely that it is often data relations that are sonified rather than the data itself. Relations are abstractions of, or from, the data and the sonification of them more explicitly implies sonifier intent. 

When the distinction is not important the term sonification is used without qualification.

Sonification is an interdisciplinary activity, with its rootsin music composition, perceptual psychology, acoustics and psychoacoutics, so it is not surprising that a diverse range of research and production tools is required.
read more ... (thesis)

The aim

Finding, testing and integrating components that can work together is a time-consuming and somewhat frustrating task. The SoniPy project collects tools by collating public-domain Python modules which are suitable for the purpose and integrating them using a modular framework. When a suitable tool is not available, the task is to make one. 

In doing so, SoniPy aims to provide a community resource for software developers who want to contribute to the development of a comunity resource and for sonifiers who don't have the time, skill or inclination to independently go through the process of putting together such a coherently-functioning toolset. 

Would you like to contribute? 

Contributions are welcome from anyone with an interest in better sonification resources– not just software developers, but  researchers using sound who could benefit from better tools experimentation tools, psychoacoustic modellers tc.

Software specifc tasks include external library wrapping (using cvars or swig for example), specific module testing and documentation, interface design for undertaking empirical experiments to name but a few. Perhaps you already have a module which would fit into the framework. Suggestions are welcome! Just click through to the CONTACT page for details. We have a strong commitment to friendly, non-discriminatory inclusion!


Data sonification is segmented into a number of processes, as illustrated by the following figure. Python modules are collected according to their function in those processes and Menu items on the left link to pages about modules that have been tested.

Data sonification component processes

Getting started

The SoniPy Project aims to be useful for a diverse range of users, from the adventurous psychologist to the experienced composer: researchers, software developers, industrial user-interface designers, sonifiers. The Project began in 2006 and so some areas of the website are still just sketches and should be read in conjunction with the FORUMs. If you'd like to lend a hand, see below.

How you use this website will be pretty much determined by your previous experience:

  • If you're keen to get started and haven't done any Python scripting, select the PYTHON menu on the left.
  • To try out some of the numerical tools, select DATA.
  • To explore the sound-synthesis possibilities, select SOUND.

Some of pages are more advances than others and we are keen to hear from you about your experiences in putting together a toolset.

More detail required?

If you'd like to read something more about the background to the project, try these:

ICAD 2007 paper (.pdf, 628k), by David Worrall, Michael Bylstra, Stephen Barrass and Roger Dean, delivered at the International Conference on Auditory Display in Montreal 2007, is a full introductory discussion of the motivations and concepts involved in SoniPy. ICoMCS 2007 paper (.pdf, 456k), by David Worrall, delivered at the International Conference on Music Communication Science in Sydney 2007, is a less technical introduction with more emphasis on musical applications.

The software

The SoniPy project has been established as a public-domain, community-based project so it can evolve as its components evolve to meet the changing needs of the sonification community. It uses only public-domain software and, although it is being initially developed on Macintosh OSX, the aim is to eventually release for all major hardware platforms.

Because the component modules and their libraries are written by a diverse range of unconnected people, there is a diverse degree-of-difficulty in building and/or installing these third-party tools. This degree-of-difficulty exponentiates when a module has dependencies which themselves need to be compiled. 

Our approach is to

  • recommend modules where the download and installation is simple or automatic, where possible, or
  • recommend modules where the build requires as few other dependencies as possible without compromising quality, or
  • build or rebuild the modules ourselves and release the build via our sourceforge site. This "repackaging" is our preferred modus operandi but has has copyright implications which need to be worked through with the software's author(s). See the under the DOWNLOAD menu.
Need help? Make contact!
If you have a project that requires sonification–from user interfaces to controlled sound environments, to the perceptualisation of large multivraiate datasets, see the the CONTACT page for how to get in touch.
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Copyright 2007-2009 David Worrall                                                                                          Last updated: 20090327