Sounds like the first morning – 12 Months of Mornings begun

At the beginning of February 2024 I started a new, year long project called “12 Months of Mornings”. You can read the inaugural post here. In short, over the course of a year starting in February 2024 and finishing with the photo from January 2025, I am creating one track a month based on the previous “good morning world” aka おはよオーリバー photo I regularly post on SNS.

First morning: 12th February 2024

A few days ago I finished and published the first track from the project, created based on the おはよオーリバー photo from 12th February 2024. It is available on Bandcamp as the first track of an album that will grow with each passing month as new tracks get added. It is currently set to pay as thou wilt, and will then slowly increase in price. So get in there early to get a great price! Or just have a listen via the embedded player:

So, what is going on there? you may ask.

This is all based on sounds, albeit many of them heavily treated with effects, created by loading the image above into various image to sound programs and creating a pool of sounds to work with.

Initially I tried Coagula, a piece of software that has been around for many years created by Rasmus Ekman, who also created the legendary Granulab. Unfortunately, Coagula interprets blue tones as noise, so the results with the image above were not too useful.

I then used an old version of Photosounder, which interprets the image properties differently and gives more control over a variety of aspects.

The original photo gets somewhat squashed in Photosounder, but you can change the frequency range to which areas of the photo are equated in the sonic outcome, limit the overall range frequency range (lowering this from 22050 to somewhere in the 14-18khz range can produce more musically interesting results at the cost of overtones). The result of this process was still relatively noisy. You can hear it coming in at the 1 minute mark of the final track – to make it more interesting I used a emulation of the MoogerFooger Ringmodulator and another plugin that created delay-based gating effects to create life/movement.

A screenshot of the final track project in Cubase, showing the effects in use on the Photosounder generated sound object.

I then moved to another program, Stone Voices’ Sound Art. This, again, sonifies images according to its algorithms, giving you a set of options. As you can see in the video below I did, for example at one point flip the image horizontally to created a different sound. This program also has some minimal image processing available, adding alpha and saturation controls to further shape the sonic output. I’ve created a short video using Sound Art. See if you recognize the sound in the finished track!

Overall I personally like the use of Sonification as a creative tool, but I also feel that it’s important to point out that this is a very arbitrary process that much more reflects artistic choices in how data is converted to sound, then it does about the actual data. And it’s worth to be wary when you’re told that something is the sound of a photo, or an astronomical object or other phenomena, projects or media that don’t naturally produce audible sounds.

“12 Months of Mornings” is, ultimately, a creative project of composition that works with – somewhat random – source material that I harvest by transforming images to sound. I’m also planning to use tools to transform images to MIDI (a language used to control synthesizers and other electronic instruments and that contains information about note pitch, velocity (loudness) etc. I will post about that process in a future update. It’s probably better to see the pictures as a graphic score, its instructions transformed into music by various means of interpretation.

You can get involved by becoming part of the process: The photo each month are selected by choosing the picture with the most engagement (likes, reposts) across both the platforms I’ve recently been posting them to, Twitter and BlueSky.