Tidal Severn

Data sonifications of the Severn Estuary

The Severn Sounds Player

Severn Sounds was first exhibited at the Emotional Geographies conference in Groningen, the Netherlands, July 2013.

It is a software program that accomplishes a real-time sonification and visualisation. The program continuously monitors the weather and tidal conditions in four different Severn estuary locations. Data changes update the map and initiate the playback of site-specific sound recordings as well as the modification of live-generated sounds.

Listeners may choose to tune into one location or to switch between locations. Either way one can discover interesting aspects, such as the unfolding of local weather phenomena, or the interconnection of larger-scale environmental processes.

Concept

The software artefact sonifies weather and tidal conditions for Avonmouth using open data. It weaves current environmental conditions into a continuous sound piece. The parameters can be fairly easily identified by listening: the rise and fall of the tide (major/minor chords, faster and slower tempo), the wind gusts and their direction (layers of wind sounds and stereo-panning), humidity (various rain sounds) and temperature (brief saxophone solo per minute). Some of the sounds are generated live and in sync with the incoming data, others are recorded samples, triggered by data changes.

Here are some recordings:

Low tide

Conditions: summer evening, slack water at low tide, windy, dry, 17 degrees Celsius. If you cannot see the audio player above, please click here.

Rising tide

Conditions: autumn daytime, rising spring tide at about 7 metres (to reach to 13 metres in ~3 hours), continuous winds, slight rain, 16 degrees Celsius. If you cannot see the audio player above, please click here.

Falling tide

Conditions: winter daytime, waters just passed high (neap) tide, at 11.30 metres, falling. Very little winds, dry, 9 degrees Celsius. If you cannot see the audio player above, please click here.

Predictions for Avonmouth

Tide table

Moon phase

moon cycle

Disclaimer: The tidal and weather information provided are for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied on for safety, accuracy or navigation. The authors assume no responsibility or liability for any incident, accident or other situation arising from the use of the data above.

The Prototype

'The Breath of the Moon' was the title of a first sonification prototype of tidal patterns at the Avonmouth Docks. On 12th June 2010, the software application observed these patterns for 12 hrs and 18 mins. This involved the tide going out, reaching low tide, coming back in, reaching high tide and then receding again. The observed tidal movement was translated into sound and then, to make it more easily perceptible, contracted in time. The work was shown at the Bristol Festival of Nature in 2010 and 2012.

Sound example 1 (00:01:35)

This 'Breath of the Moon' recording covers one tidal cycle at Avonmouth (about 12.3 hours). It is time-condensed, so 7.5 seconds of the track correspond to 1 hour of clock time. If you cannot see the audio player above, please click here.

Sound example 2 (00:03:08)

A slightly less condensed version whereby 15 seconds represent 1 hour of clock time. If you cannot see the audio player above, please click here.