Quotidian record: sonifying everyday life

Quotidian record is another sonification work by Brian House, whose work You’ll have to take my word for it, I wrote about earlier in this blog. In this highly individualistic work, Brian tracked all his travels for a year and used those data to create a composition. He suggests that “our habitual patterns have inherent musical qualities and that daily rhythms might form an emergent portrait of an individual”. In other words: life is music.

Tracking and Mapping

Brian House used the Open Paths tracking app to collect his location data. This application collects user’s data, encrypts them and stores it on secured servers. the data can be downloaded in a variety of data formats for analysis. The app is available on the App Store and Google Play.

The OpenPaths app allows you to track your movements and store them on a secured server.

Each location was assigned a note, and every different city a different scale. New York, for example, was assigned a major G scale. When Brian travelled to another city, the composition would modulate.

Within cities, locations are ordered by the frequency with which they were visited. This is mapped loosely onto a composed harmonic series but not strictly ordered by consonance. For example, the most common location is a third, second most common is a sixth, etc., and seconds and sevenths are further down the list. This interval mapping is the same for each city.

The speed of the sonification is as follows: A pulse which tempo represents two hours, making the whole composition last 11 minutes, accompanies the melody.

Physical output

The sonification has taken on a physical form as well: Brian pressed the composition on vinyl, marking the cities he has visited. Furthermore, the speed of the sonification matches the rotation speed: 1 day equals 1 rotation.

The physicality of the vinyl is a reference to the value that something material holds. While our data are digital and by definition non-material, the vinyl object offers a chance to cherish the value in our data.

About the artist

Brian House is an artist who uses technology as a fundamental part of his practice. He has exhibited in various locations such as the MoMA and ZKM Karlsruhe as well as festivals such as Ars Electronica. You can check out his work here.



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