Thursday, 6 December 2012

Rainwire : Floating Land Festival 2013

Floating Land is a biennial 10-day environmental art festival held on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia that brings together international, national and local artists to explore environmental themes through art and dialogue.

The principal activity site for Floating Land is Boreen Point at Lake Cootharaba. This is in the UNESCO-listed biosphere of Noosa.

Floating Land 2013 is in partnership with Balance-Unbalance 2013, a major international conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between nature, science, technology and society as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Rainwire paper : Leonardo Music Journal Vol 22

Leonardo Music Journal Vol 22 (Acoustics) has just been published by MIT Press, and features a peer reviewed Rainwire paper :

Burraston, D. (2012) Environmental Sonification of Rainfall with Long Wire Instruments. Leonardo Music Journal 22 pp 11-14 (MIT Press).

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Pi Scraper exclusive in The Wire magazine

The Wire magazine is featuring an exclusive track on the latest "Below The Radar" compilation Vol. 11 for subscribers

Dave Noyze & Garry Bradbury 

"Pi Scraper - Circumference Mix" 
Below The Radar exclusive (Wired Lab) 

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Exploring Discrete Dynamics - The DDLab Manual

I'm currently writing a review of Andy Wuensche's classic text Exploring Discrete Dynamics: The DDLab Manual for the Journal of Cellular Automata. In the book you'll learn about all sorts of interesting things such as 3D glider guns in the Beehive Rule, as well the whole field of discrete dynamic networks (random Boolean/multi state network, cellular automata etc.).

Glider-Guns in the Beehive Rule 3d Cellular Automata (Image courtesy of Andrew Wuensche)

In my book review I'll be writing about how I use DDLab and its functions in the context of my practice-based research in complex systems.  You can get the PDF free or buy the book online e.g. Amazon. While you're at it you should get a copy of the DDLab software, as well ALL of Andy's papers and books available as PDF's on his Publications Page. Dont forget to click on the Make A Donation button!

Wiring of cell in a Random Boolean Network (Image courtesy of Andrew Wuensche)

From the back cover:

EXPLORING DISCRETE DYNAMICS is a comprehensive guide to studying cellular automata and discrete dynamical networks with the classic software Discrete Dynamics Laboratory (DDLab), widely used in research and education. These collective networks are at the core of complexity and emergent self-organisation. With interactive graphics, DDLab is able to explore a huge diversity of behaviour, mostly terra incognita -- space-time patterns, and basins of attraction -- mathematical objects representing the convergent flow in state-space. Applications range within physics, mathematics, biology, cognition, society, economics and computation, and more specifically in neural and genetic networks, artificial life, and theories of memory.


"Andrew Wuensche has, in an important sense, done more than anyone to enable the study of discrete dynamical systems such as cellular automata and random Boolean nets. Wuensche derived the mathematical means to compute the "predecessor" states that flow to a successor state. Thereby he opened the door to study the entire state space flow of discrete dynamical systems. DDLab is a marvellous and useful tool for all of us fascinated by discrete dynamical systems and what they may tell us of mathematics and the world."
STUART KAUFFMAN, author of "The Origins of Order", MacArthur Fellow, FRSC, University of Vermont, USA. Tampere University of Technology, Finland.

"There is a whole universe of complexity that is captured by discrete dynamical systems, which have been widely used as a powerful framework to understand reality from different perspectives. Exploring Discrete Dynamics is a great example of how to dive in this neverending universe. A careful, compelling and detailed presentation of examples and methods will help both beginners and scholars to get into this fascinating field."
RICARD SOLE, Author of "Signs of Life", Complex Systems Lab, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.

There are two reviews of the DDLab software available:

Andrew Adamatzky in KYBERNETES, Vol.28, No.8 and 9, 1999.

John E. Myers in COMPLEXITY, Vol.3, No.1, Sept/Oct 1997.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Powertran DDL - pitch/trig mod part2

Powertran Digital Delay Line with pitch/trig mod board. This is a quick video of the pitch being controlled by a prototype cellular automata oscillator module with an OLED display. DDL is in freeze mode so works a bit like an 8 bit sampler. No trigger connected in this video. Audio input is sampled directly from Mudley Talker Junior.


External pitch and trig switches

Wiring for external pitch and trig switches

Wiring for external pitch and trig switches

Board is layed out on old school RS stripboard 

Wiring from main DDL board to mod board

Wiring from main DDL board to mod board - closeup of chip legs

2 grey wires mentioned in the Errata for adding back missing 2K RAM!!


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Powertran DDL - pitch/trig mod

Wow, an Emulator for 10quid!!!! Well, er yea, as the next line sez, not quite... A number of people have very usefully posted up schems for the Powertran DDL, or the blooddl as I call it. But I have not seen any scans of the Patrick Shipsey (E&MM ) pitch/trig mod. So I dug out my copy and scanned it. This mod is very handy for it, download the pix for the info. Gives you pitch and trigger control, lushcore. 

Noyzelab's Blooddl, pitch/trig mod switches are above the 4/10kHz switches

Noyzelab's Blooddl inside: pitch/trig mod board is back left 

Noyzelab's Blooddl: Rear End Jacks

OK, here are the circuit diagrams / article, note the 4th diag is an Errata note that appeared in a later E&MM.

Pitch/Trig Mod Page 1

Pitch/Trig Mod Page 2

Pitch/Trig Mod Page 3

Pitch/Trig Mod Page - Errata (Note: This is the photocopy I got with mine, and was already clipped at the right hand side)

For those wondering what the Blooddl sounds like, you are encouraged to play QBF Check Some on the Automata 49 album at a very loud volume.

Other useful links for the Blooddl :

Copyright for ETI got passed onto Everyday Practical Electronics. I am posting them here for the benefit of other Powertran DDL users as this is no longer supported by anyone to my knowledge. If you own the copyright on these 4 pages and want them removed please contact me at : noyzelab [at] gmail [dot] com

Wired Open Day 2009 - Double Vinyl LP

Wired Open Day 2009 - LP is now available at Taiga Records from the shop.

TAIGA 19 - Alan Lamb, Garry Bradbury, David Burraston, Oren Ambarchi & Robin Fox Wired Open Day 2009 2xLP

Wired Open Day 2009 was pressed on 100 clear with black core, 200 clear & 200 black (all 200g virgin vinyl).
 Packaged in heavy-duty Stoughton matte varnished tip-on gatefold jackets, each copy is hand-numbered /500 on the back cover.

Read more about the album here or listen to an additional excerpt from Oren Ambarchi's side here.

Clear with black core vinyl showing C & D side labels with front & back cover of jacket:

Clear vinyl showing A & B side labels & jacket innerspread:

Monday, 30 April 2012

Saturday, 28 April 2012

video of live set at moduluxxx

thanks to the legendary kazumichi grime for getting this video of my modular live set together & uploaded in hyper quick time. there will be a vid of my presentation at the dorkbot synthesizing synthesizers session at some point. ultrathanks to serial space and the moduluxxx crew for getting this mad little festival together, great bunch of people and modular synths all in one place! video shot by sarah last from wired lab.

modules used include my own designs : space time gravity modulator (see here & here), pling plong, mudley talker, arthur, maniac, uTonal oscillator, tube fuzz pre + some other homebuilt eurorack stuff i made back in the mid 90's of other peoples design (with my own panel designs) such as paia EKx series vc multimode filter (EKx 20) & vc eg (EKx10), tom henry processor.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

doepfer modules for sale


Used Doepfer modules for sale (including power cables). Click on the link to see the current new price at Elby Designs in Australia for comparison cost. Price as shown or offers :

a136 waveshaper $50
a165 dual trig modifier  $50
a162 dual trig delay $50
a150 dual vcs $40
a151 quad seq switch $40
a160 clock divider $50
a161 clock sequencer $50
a106 extreme filter $100 (brand new unused)

Anyone interested in these modules please email me : noyzelab [at] gmail [dot] com

I can bring these up to the Moduluxxx gig if required but I would need to know by thurs night / v. early fri morning.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

voltage controlled microtonal oscillator

test of a prototype voltage controlled microtonal oscillator. can set num tones per octave and tonic in hertz. this is a 6 voice module, test is of install of voices 1 & 2. also has a keyboard interface, not on panel yet. currently each oscillator voice uses the same scale, might try and get this as separate scale per voice.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

mudley talker junior - generative speech synth module

generative mudley talking speech synthesizer setup for recording a track on the automata 52 album (out soon on cataclyst).  algorithms let loose inside a speech synthesizer engine.   buttons & gate ins for talk & NOT talk (i.e. shutup). gate outs for talking and NOT talking. audio and composite video outs. this is the "junior" version of the module with an ultra minimal interface.

spacetime gravity modulator part 2 - eurorack prototype

quick test of prototype gravity/black hole-ish module, running a simulated physics. separate control voltage outputs from asteroid-like ships xy position. 4 x gate toggles with LEDs activate when ship passes  each screen boundary. control voltages for ship rotation, thrust, number of black holes & randomize hole location. each gravity blob has its own forcefield. push buttons for thrust, hyperspace, ultrabrake, clear/set gate outputs. composite video output.

some quick stills taken during prototype testing ==>

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

MANIAC NEW CV interface + uTonal

quick vid test of MANIAC with a new panel of 8 x cv in & 2 x cv out. the L&R audio outs on MANIAC are setup as 2 microtonal oscillators. cv outs are going to self oscillating filter and eg attack rate with eg also to filter cutoff. uTonal osc's notes are being driven directly from CA states and 2 CV knobs controlling the mapping.

more on the uTonal oscillator at some point, but briefly at present it is set up by number of tones per octave and tonic in hertz. + some more here...

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Moduluxxx - 27/28 April 2012

Moduluxxx is a modular synthesis mini-festival being held in Sydney on April 27th and 28th.

27th April, 7 - 10pm
@ Serial Space

Raucous gig featuring musicians and artists who use modular synths.

Robin Fox
David Burraston
Hair Hochman
Pia van Gelder

Monday, 2 April 2012

spacetime gravity modulator

just for a bit of fun at the mo. more on this later... (now little bit in PART2) + check it out on the new album by david burraston & russell haswell.

gravity/black hole-ish module, running a simulated physics. separate control voltage outputs from asteroid-like ships xy position. 4 x gate toggles when ship passes corresponding screen boundary. control voltage for ship rotation and thrust. each gravity blob has its own forcefield.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

pling plong

quick set of 3 videos of a new module idea for a bit of fun.

control voltage from xy moving block position. 4 individual gate toggles for the collision with the 4 edges of the bounding box. control voltage input via pots or external voltage for bounding box width and height. in the videos the control voltage input is from one of the bounding box gate toggles and the other one from the modular.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Music Box Toy with Elementary Cellular Automata

The Wolfram Demonstrations Project has just published my Music Box Toy with Elementary Cellular Automata

This demonstration uses a simple and novel mapping of elementary cellular automata (CA) to single-voice musical sequences. The mapping is created by evolving a small CA through all its possible initial conditions for a number of generations, converting the cells to decimals and storing them in a table. This table is visualized using Mathematica's built-in function ArrayPlot with starting conditions assigned vertically and generations evolving horizontally.

There are 3 experimental generative sound pieces I made for the demo. You'll have to download the demo from their website to hear them. Below are the example snapshots of the setup for each piece :

Piano piece with rule 105

Pizzicato viola piece with rule 110

Overwound Music Box piece with rule 54

This is a technique I have been using for about 10 years to make generative music with cellular automata. It is a quick and easy method of generating sequences, most often they are best approached with a bit of judicious editing after generation, but sometimes I get lucky after a lot of parameter fiddling... See noyzelab website for more info, e.g. Generative Music on the Roland MC4 MicroComposer - Cellular Automata Sequence Loops for Control Voltages page for a further example of this type of sequence generation.

Some info about Wolfram Demonstrations Project from their About Page :

Conceived by Mathematica creator and scientist Stephen Wolfram as a way to bring computational exploration to the widest possible audience, the Wolfram Demonstrations Project is an open-code resource that uses dynamic computation to illuminate concepts in science, technology, mathematics, art, finance, and a remarkable range of other fields.

Each is reviewed and edited by experts for content, clarity, presentation, quality, and reliability.

All Demonstrations run freely on any standard Windows, Mac, or Linux computer. In fact, you do not even need Mathematica. You can interact with any Demonstration using the free Wolfram CDF Player—for most platforms this happens right in your web browser. If you have Mathematica you can also experiment and modify the code yourself.

For a lot more info on the Wolfram Demonstrations Project please see their about page

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Creativity + Complexity Part 2 : Rainwire

This is Part 2 of an expanded version of my invited Leonardo Thinks article Creativity + Complexity = Win Win

It was so cold and lonely.
The crying blue rain was tearing me up.
Oh, tearing me up.
I wanna thank you my sweet darling
For digging in the mud and picking me up.
Thank you so much!
Jimi Hendrix "In From The Storm" 


This post is continuation of the C+C part 1 post. Presented here is a brief overview of the Rainwire project as a second exemplar of the creativity and complexity approach. Some demo soundfiles of environmental sonification of rainfall are provided first, why not have a listen to these while reading this post. The text begins with a brief historical introduction of long wires and their relationship to the Aeolian harp. Some aspects of construction and recording techniques are then discussed. Observations of rainfall induced vibrations on long wire audio recordings follow. The deeper implications of this work for improving rainfall measurements and characterisation through environmental sonification will also be discussed. 


CreativeComplex-WEATHER-MIX by TheWIREDLab 25-10-09-thunderstorm-7mm by dave noyze 29-10-09-4pm-GW-rain by dave noyze

Dec-8-Sputnik-Wire-rainfall-fishmans-2.5min-demo by CRiCS Dec-8-Sputnik-Wire-rainfall-fishmans-5min-demo by CRiCS Dec-8-Sputnik-Wire-rainfall-fishmans-tstmix1 by CRiCS 16-Feb-2011-Sputnik-tstmix1 by CRiCS Flying-V-eastwest-24-4-10-5pm-onwards-fishmans-RAIN by RAINWIRE


Probably some thousand Americans have noticed the automatic storm-signaling of wires by sound-vibration. I allowed a telephone-wire to remain for a long time attached to one corner of my (frame) house because of its practical utility as a weather-prophet. When not a leaf was stirring in the neighborhood, and not a breath to be felt, the deep undulations were audible in almost every room, although mufflers had been duly applied. Before that, some hours in advance of every severe storm, the upper story was hardly inhabitable on account of the unearthly uproar, which would have made a first-rate case for the Society for psychical research. Wm. H. Babcock, (1885). Do Telegraph-Wires Foretell Storms?, Science, Volume 5, No. 119 (May 15, 1885): 396-397

Long wire instruments have foundations in sculpture, land art, complex systems science and music composition, as well as historical precursors in the form of Aeolian harps back to the ancient Greeks. In the Romantic period Aeolian harps enjoyed a domestic re-emergence by being incorporated into buildings and castle grounds in England, Germany and Italy. Aeolian harps and their mystical audible qualities featured in the literature of Romantic poets and physicists such as Hoffmann, Kerner, Gattoni, Shelley and Goethe [1]. By the eighteenth century the Aeolian harp had become universally popular, ranging from small installations in domestic houses to large storm harps that were constructed from gigantic strings spanning the landscape [2].  In 1785 the Italian scientist Gattoni expanded the domestic scale of the romantic period instruments through his ‘Armonica Meteorologica naturale’ experiments [3]. Gattoni built an instrument of 100 metre long wires of varying diameters to research and ‘sound’ weather predictions. A sketch of Gattoni’s instrument can be seen in Figure 1. After unsatisfying results with gold, copper, silver and iron, Gattoni settled on steel wires. Gattoni made an interesting observation: the wires would become absolutely silent when rain began to fall. However, while it is true that rainfall will often dampen Aeolian tones in long wires, there is an incredible acoustic universe of rain induced sounds that Gattoni missed when he abandoned his experiments. This is of course entirely understandable, and it is only through the benefit of modern technology that I have been able to investigate this hidden acoustic world.

Gattoni’s long wires installed as a “giant weather harp”  Source: &

The present day long wire instruments I work with were originally developed by Australian composer Alan Lamb [4, 5], and were designed and constructed by myself, Lamb and Sarah Last as part of The WIRED Lab project [6]. They are artwork installations consisting of highly tensioned spans of fencing wire that stretch across the open landscape. Instrument spans can range from tens to hundreds of metres, up to a total multispan length of several kilometres or more, usually supported by poles and porcelain insulators or attached to very large rocks (usually granite boulders). Spatial arrangements can typically be in the form of a single line, parallel lines, radial lines from a central point to compass points (e.g. NESW) or other geometric shapes. Long wire instruments can be constructed on flat land, across gulley’s, down hillsides, over complex terrain and over sections of water.

In my early collaborations with Lamb (2006 – 2008) it became clear that investigating rainfall patterns on these instruments had no precedent. Indeed Lamb’s work has mainly centered around what he terms “singing” where Aeolian vibrations/tones evolve over time, and also other ways of interacting such as attaching percussive objects and polystyrene boxes (which act as microphones/loudspeakers). Recording rainfall events is a new and independent direction I have developed for these instruments, encompassing both art and science aspects, in a project I have called ‘Rainwire’ [7, 8]. 


My work with long wire instruments has required expanding on Lamb’s original methods, where he used piezo ceramic pickups, a DAT recorder and bipolar transistorised guitar preamps. In particular I have worked to completely encapsulate the pickups within silicon gels and completely redesigned the preamps from the ground up.  

Waterproof pickups attached to a long wire instrument

The acoustic dynamics of rainfall is incredibly large, from a light drizzle to extreme weather events (high winds and storms). Examination of the piezo ceramic output on an oscilloscope when actuated with impulses revealed quite a large voltage swing, sometimes in the order a several volts. I made a decision to build a prototype preamp stage using valves (vacuum tubes) instead of transistors. Valves are much more forgiving and musical when overloaded, and my early rainfall recording experiments in April 2008 with transistor preamps would sometimes suffer from unwanted / unmusical distortions. I have also made a number of experimental preamps that used Field Effect Transistors (FETs) which are generally considered to be closer to a valve in response, and although the results were useable, the valve preamps definitely produced a better sound.

Stereo valve preamp prototype

I have developed unattended “long form” recording strategies, often using solar panels to charge 12V batteries to power the preamps and a digital field recorder. Recording times are possible for as long as rainfall events last, which can be of the order of a few minutes to several days. The field recorder allows for either compressed (mp3) or uncompressed audio files. An uncompressed stereo audio setting will enable recordings up to about 12 hours for an 8GB memory card at 16bit / 44.1kHz. High quality mp3 is used if a rainfall event is expected to last for a longer period e.g. an 8GB memory card using 128kbs would give about 5 and half days continuous recording of near CD quality stereo audio.


Long wire spans are scientifically classed as suspended cables, which exhibit a complex variety of non-linear dynamical behaviours, and are an archetypal complex system with applications in many fields of engineering e.g. mechanical, civil, electrical, ocean and space [10, 11]. Suspended cables have significant research interest, in particular the investigation with random excitation and rain-wind induced vibration, which is a vital area where new studies and results are important [9]. The non-linear dynamics of suspended cables are modelled with various forms of the Duffing oscillator, a key engineering model with vast application areas from electronics to mechanics [9, 12].

There are many aspects of long wires that will affect the response to a rainfall event. As the long wire span becomes wet, this will have the effect of dampening the vibrations, so over time the spectral content also changes. In addition, the formation of rivulets along the wire length will have the effect of changing the wire diameter and affecting its response to wind-rain induced vibrations [9]. The diameter of fencing wire we use at The WIRED Lab generally comes in two flavours, 2.5mm and 3.15mm. This is an interesting property when one considers that rain droplets on average range in size from 0.1mm up 5mm. Rain events can range from quite gentle affairs to raging cacophonies. The temperature of the wire will affect droplet impact, as well as the tension of the span. It should be noted that tension on long wire spans does not affect frequency in the way of a guitar string, which is a common but understandable misconception. Lamb has also commented on this aspect of tension :  “In the classical physics of vibrating strings, tension is of paramount importance to the frequency of vibration. However, in the case of very long wires, the static tension has little effect on the pitch. This can be traced to the observation that the very high harmonics are not distinctly related to the fundamental, but rather are closely correlated with wind speed and wire diameter.” [5]. 

Karman vortex street (source:ármán_vortex_street )

The well known singing sound of Aeolian vibrations can be viewed as a wind induced Karman vortex street, which occurs at frequencies proportional to wind speed and wire diameter [9]. Add to all this that the long wire itself is often moving / swaying in relation to its fixed ends, and one realizes that this is indeed a very complex system. 

Close up of frequency curve from a large rain drop surrounded by smaller drops (single channel)

Although a detailed analysis of the acoustic properties of these recordings has yet to be conducted, I have made a number of empirical observations and background research over the years that I will briefly outline here. Firstly, it needs to be stated that studying the dynamics, and hence the acoustics, of long wire instruments is not something to undertake lightly or with any expectation of completion in this lifetime!  

The high spatial, temporal, amplitude and frequency resolution afforded by long wire instruments results in significant diversity in audibly recorded event profiles, intensity and microstructure of rainfall. Rain induced sounds on long wire instruments have a wide range of unique, audibly recognisable features. Such features are connected with rainfall event properties such as duration, intensity, event profile and drop size, many of which encompass chaotic, complex and fractal (self-similar) processes [13]. These unique sound properties can take many forms; high frequency crackles, high to low frequency swept zaps similar to the sounds produced by a sound synthesizer, various percussive sounds, rhythms and clicks, metallic tinkling, extended periods of drones and tones imparted through rain patterns and other environmental processes (wind, temperature, barometric pressure, seismic activity, flora and fauna interaction). An example spectrogram of a frequency sweep (zap) is shown in the spectrogram with time horizontally, frequency vertically and intensity by shading. All of these sonic features exhibit dynamic amplitude and spectral characteristics, depending on the rain type and environmental conditions. 

In some circumstances a change in the acoustic environment is the first indication of rainfall, as indicated by such sayings as “Hark at it!” (UK) or “The rains are ‘ere!” (Australia). In Australia it is particularly noticeable as an acoustic phenomena, due to the widespread use of corrugated iron and steel roofing, in some extreme cases making all work and conversation impossible until the rain event ceases or subsides. 

The sound of rain is a fascinating and diverse acoustic phenomena, and I have been using recordings of rainfall “playing” the long wire instruments since April 2008. The long wire instrument can be considered as ‘natures microphone’, a kind of acoustic microscope and macroscope. Minute details, very long form temporal evolutions and large scale spatial / geographic coverage are all recorded simultaneously from the same instrument. These recordings have been utilized in a number of my compositions, such as The Computational Beauty of Nature II [14], and a joint composition performed live with Alan Lamb on the forthcoming vinyl album of WIRED Open Day 2009 [15]. As well as compositions published on CD and vinyl, I have put a number of recordings on The WIRED Lab’s website, which gives a glimpse of the multifaceted aspect of rainfall induced vibrations and represents just a small sampling from my archive of rain recordings [16, 17, 18, 19]. 


A central environmental and climatic problem of 21st Century science is the protection of freshwater resources. Availability of freshwater for human consumption, agriculture and industry is both a national and international concern. The main source of freshwater is rainfall, and underground water sources are also ultimately dependant on this same source. The complex problem of understanding natural rainfall events is vital for informed sustainable land management, and fundamental research in complex systems, climatology and meteorology. Rainwire aims to be at the forefront of environmental sonification by demonstrating fundamentally different and novel approaches for research in land based rainfall through an interdisciplinary art/science project. Key algorithms and techniques will be investigated for extracting the sound signatures of different rainfall patterns from vibrations induced on long wire instrument spans. 

Rainfall event properties are key requirements for research in environmental processes, agricultural processes, flood management, rainfall simulation and modelling, built environment and urban drainage [20]. Research in understanding and detecting global and regional environmental change require these rain event properties to be analysed in high resolution at the sub-daily level. 

Sonification is the presentation of data or information via sound, and the most well known scientific instruments in this field are the Geiger counter and Sonar [21,22]. Generally, methods of sonification of environmental data for scientific application to date have been based on digital sound generation from data, as opposed to analogue means. In such projects the phenomena under examination have been sampled to create data sets that are subsequently ‘mapped’ in an arbitrary way to sound synthesis engine parameters that produce audio output [23]. However, the more the data is mediated, the less direct the relationships are between the stimuli and responses. The resultant audio in typical sonification bears a somewhat arbitrary relationship to the source phenomena because the process is abstracted through the creation of a data set. Sonification from real world physical actions, as opposed to being mediated via electronic sound synthesis mapping, can be seen in an early example by Galileo Galilei in the formation of the law of falling bodies [24]. In this experiment Galileo attached bells to an inclined plane in order to make his discovery. 
Long wire instruments fundamentally differ from existing data based sonification processes and rainfall measurement devices by generating sonic events directly from rainfall patterns in realtime through induced cable vibrations. Piezo transducers are used to convert mechanical vibration into audio signals for recording, measurement and analysis, effectively sonifying the rainfall patterns.

Acoustic analysis using Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques have been successfully applied to rainfall measurement at sea using underwater acoustics for decades. Initial research was conducted during World War II when rainfall was discovered to impact on military sonar. Techniques were subsequently developed for Acoustic Rain Gauges (ARG) to identify rainfall events through unique frequency spectrum characteristics between 1 and 50kHz [25, 26]. The unique characteristics of rainfall impacting water are created by the initial impact and the subsequent formation of an underwater bubble for certain raindrop sizes. These variable drop impacts produce different frequency signatures as a result of this unique mechanism, which can be used to deduce important rainfall parameters. 
Detection, analysis and quantification for Rainwire is inspired from the underwater acoustics methodology used for ARG’s. However, it should be noted that the physics of the two processes are completely different resulting in different spectral responses and signatures for rain induced vibrations on wire / suspended cables compared to water surfaces. Future research will therefore require the detection of new spectral signatures associated with long wire systems, as well as the identification of any potential background noise or tones, and identification of any potential limitations

The complex systems methodologies will encompass techniques from non-linear time series analysis which are recently being used in rainfall research [27], though not on acoustic data. Complexity measures can provide a measure of a system’s organisational complexity (structure, regularity, symmetry and pattern). Complexity measures are an important complimentary addition to quantifying degrees of randomness, because measures of randomness cannot measure the structure or organisation within a system.

There is an explosive increase in the use of sensors in the environment, ranging from ubiquitous computing to agricultural and environmental monitoring. A future plan for the long wire instrument is for it to be completely remotely monitored and controlled, and Wireless Sensor Networks (WSN) are a key enabling technology. WSN consist of low cost miniature sensors capable of remotely sensing data and sending it to a base station for aggregation and processing [28].


Acoustic events from rainfall are naturally produced by long wire instruments, directly responding to environmental factors, unmediated by abstracted data mapping processes. Environmental factors directly induce responses from the instrument, causing it to sound in complex evolving musical patterns. Environmental sonification of natural rainfall events for the production of music, have formed the impetus for preliminary scientific investigations. I have not discussed in detail the scientific aspects of the Rainwire project, which is aimed at using these acoustic techniques / recordings to quantify the various parameters of rainfall events pertinent to climatology and meteorology. However, this is an important part of this research and references to this work were given, but a larger exposition and more investigative/technical work is required before such results are presented. Rainwire has the potential to contribute to the complex systems research knowledge base in the following key areas:

i) Extending the scope and methodology of rainfall detection, classification and quantification through the application of signal processing, and new / existing complexity measures.

ii) Extending knowledge in the non-linear dynamics of random excitation and fluid interactions with suspended cables

iii) Publically available datasets of high resolution long wire instrument rainfall sonifications for explorations of physical theory and pattern recognition.

It is anticipated that the Rainwire project will enable a bidirectional influence between the artistic and scientific investigations of long wire instruments.

Rainwire is conceptually innovative in that the field of scientific data sonification has emerged very recently. However, unlike most existing sonification systems where sound/music is attached to waveforms, in this approach the sonification is intrinsic


I would like to thank : Alan Lamb and Sarah Last at The WIRED Lab. Doug Kahn for historical information on Babcock’s weather forecasting by telegraph wires. Uli Wahl for Gattoni's weather harp picture.  


[1] Henry David Thoreau, edited by Bradford Torrey and Francis H. Allen, The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Volume 3, September 1851 to April 1852, Peregrine Smith Books, 1984, 342.

[2] Dolan, E. I. (2008). E.T.A. Hoffman and the Ethereal Technologies of ‘Nature Music’, in Eighteenth Century Music 5/1, Cambridge University Press, pp. 7-26

[3] Wahl, U. The Longstring Aeolian Harp; the "Singing Wires" of the Indians or the Giant Weather Harp of Abate Cesare Gattoni of Como/ Italy in 1785. 

[4] A. H. Lamb, (1991). Metaphysics of wire music. NMA 9, (NMA Publications, Melbourne, 1991).

[5] John Jenkins, (1988). 22 Contemporary Australian Composers, NMA Publications Melbourne 

[6] The WIRED Lab. (2012). 

[7] Burraston, D. (2012). ‘Rainwire: Environmental Sonification of Rainfall’, Leonardo, MIT Press, (forthcoming) 

[8] Burraston, D. (2011). Creativity, Complexity and Reflective Practice, In Candy, L. and Edmonds, E. eds. Interacting: Art, Research and the Creative Practitioner, Libri Publishing Ltd. Oxford. 

[9] R. A. Ibrahim, (2004) Nonlinear vibrations of suspended cables – Part III: Random excitation and interaction with fluid flow. Appl Mech Rev 57,6 pp. 515-549.

[10] G. Rega, 2004) Nonlinear vibrations of suspended cables – Part I: Modeling and analysis. Appl Mech Rev 57,6 (pp. 443-478.

[11] G. Rega, (2004) Nonlinear vibrations of suspended cables – Part II: Deterministic phenomena. Appl Mech Rev 57,6 pp. 479-514.

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