World-first duet unveiled at Geneva conference

Published: 15 February 2016 at 15:43

Dr Chiara Mariotti during rehearsal

Data sonification experts from Anglia Ruskin to deliver keynote at CERN event

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A unique musical performance, featuring a duet for flute and flautist, promises to be the highlight of the ITCR-Physics in Health CERN conference in Geneva on Tuesday evening (6pm GMT).

The conference keynote presentation, which is open to the public, will be delivered by Dr Domenico Vicinanza and Dr Genevieve Williams of Anglia Ruskin University, along with musical accompaniment from Dr Chiara Mariotti, a particle physicist at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider.

The event will showcase the benefits of using data sonification, which is where complex data is conveyed as audio signals as opposed to visual illustrations such as graphs.  Dr Vicinanza and Dr Williams are using their expertise in data sonification to help with new breakthroughs in areas ranging from sport science to the analysis of cancer biopsies.

On the flute Dr Mariotti, one of the CERN physicists who participated in the discovery of the Higgs boson particle in 2012, will perform movement and force data collected in Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Science lab.

This data has been sonified, which involves converting it into musical notes, in Anglia Ruskin’s Audio Technology lab.  Anglia Ruskin is creating the first facility in the world to link a biomechanics lab with an audio lab, providing a unique synergy for the scientists. Dr Vicinanza and Dr Williams, who is Co-Director of Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, are using this facility to create objective, audio data about the body.

Dr Vicinanza, produce manager at GEANT and Director of Sound And Game Engineering (SAGE) Research Group at Anglia Ruskin University, said:

“The performance will show that by taking data that scientists normally look at on graphs and in tables and turning it into audible information, it allows us to perceive scientific data in a different, and potentially richer, way.  After all, our ears are far more sensitive than our eyes at detecting slight variations. 

“Also, it will demonstrate our ability to create and communicate objective data about our body position.  This is one of our main research areas and has implications in sport training, rehabilitation, physiotherapy and music therapy.

“Our facility at Anglia Ruskin, which links a biomechanics lab with an audio lab, is a world-first.  It also allows us to receive data from elsewhere using research and education networks (like Jisc in the UK and GEANT internationally) – whether that’s participation in coaching and training activities, supporting rehabilitation of patients, or collaborating with therapists from different countries – and so opens our expertise and facilities to the world.”

Listen to the sound of movement and force data, collected by Anglia Ruskin scientists. The results have been converted into music using a process called data sonification, and are performed here on the flute.