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Christopher Frauenberger <[log in to unmask]>
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Christopher Frauenberger <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 12 Apr 2006 15:08:18 +0200
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ICAD 2006 Concert
Call for Sonifications - Submission deadline 30 April

Title : Global Music - The World by Ear
A Concert of Sonifications at ICA London

The 'Global Music - The World by Ear' Concert will take place on June  
21st, 2006, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA - http:// London, as part of the International Conference on  
Auditory Display in London from 20-23 June 2006 (ICAD 2006 - http:// It is open to the general public and  
will be promoted and listed by the ICA.

The concert program will be sonifications based on global data. A  
basic dataset serving as a starting point for these sonifications is  
provided and you are invited to participate by submitting a piece of  
music driven by this data and your chosen additions to it.

**Data files have been updated, see section Data Background and  
Resources below.**

Werner Pirchner, Ein halbes Doppelalbum, 1973: "The military costs  
every person still alive roughly as much as half a kilogram of bread  
per day." ( 

Global data are ubiquitous - one finds them in every newspaper, and  
they cover a range of themes, from global warming to increasing  
poverty, from individual purchasing power to the ageing of the  
world's population. Obviously these data are of a social nature: They  
describe specific aspects (e.g. ecological or economic) of the  
environment in which societies exist, which taken together determine  
culture, i.e. the way people live.

Rising awareness of these global interdependencies has led both to  
fear and concerns (e.g. captured in the notion of the risk society,  
see Beck 1986, Giddens 1990, 1999), as well as hopes for eventual  
positive consequences of globalisation. Along with developments like  
the scientisation of politics (see Drori et al 2003), this growing  
understanding of global issues has re-defined the context of the  
political discourse in modern societies: As modern societies claim to  
steer their own course based on self-observation by means of data, an  
information feedback loop is realised.

Alternative choices of data that are important to consider, which  
data should be set in relation to each other, and a consideration of  
how to perceptualise these data choices meaningfully can enrich this  

Closing the feedback loop by informing society about its current  
state and its development is a task that both scientists and artists  
have responded to, and this is the key point of this call:

     * You can contribute to the discourse by perceptualising aspects  
of world societal developments,
     * search for data that concern interesting questions, and devise  
strategies for investigating them, and
     * demonstrate that sound can communicate information in an  
accessible way for the general public.

As a common reference point, we have compiled a basic dataset which  
includes 190 countries with geographical data (capital location,  
area), population numbers, and is extended by several basic social  
indicators such as GDP, access to sanitation and drinking water, and  
life expectancy.

Using this reference dataset is mandatory: All submissions must  
include countries, capital locations, population and area data. This  
dataset can be extended with extra dimensions, and in fact this is  
strongly encouraged; the extensions included in the reference dataset  
(such as GDP) are given as examples only.

Examples of a larger number of interesting extensions can be found in  
the extended version of the basic dataset (see links in section Data  
Background and Resources below).

Easily accessible sources for possible extensions to the dataset are  
also given in the Resources section; if you need advice on these,  
please feel free to ask us: icad.concert AT

Submissions should last between 3-10 minutes.

Likely Questions
Missing values for some countries and some dimensions are to be  
expected, and this is a common problem in social data. Pragmatic  
handling of some sort will be necessary here.

The countries/regions represented have very different sizes and  
population numbers; one result we hope for is that very different  
strategies for representing these frame dimensions will be applied in  
the submissions.

Our reference data set is a snapshot of the year 2005; participants  
may choose to introduce time and to explore development issues.

If you are unsure whether your idea for a submission would comply  
with the rules, please feel free to ask us:

Data Background and Resources
The reference datasets have been compiled from official UN statistics  
and the CIA World Factbook (links below).

Data files have been updated!

    1. Basic data file simplified:
           * latitude and longitude also provided as floating point  
           * no special characters - easier to machine-read.
ICADConcertData_Basic2.txt (missing values replaced by -1)
    2. Extended data file provided:
           * Same as basic date file, but
           * extended with numerous example data.
ICADConcertData_Extend2.txt (missing values replaced by -1)
    3. Extensive documentation on the extended dataset provided as pdf:
    4. File reading script provided for SC3:

There are a number of openly accessible resources which can be used  
to extend the basic dataset:

1. Social Indicators of the United Nations Statistics Division
This webpage offers first insights in the distribution of some  
selected indicators. Though these indicators are not very highly  
sophisticated, the advantage is that the files comprise data from  
almost all nations represented in the UNO.
The Statistics Division also offers other data files to be found via  
their main pages:

2. Statistics Portal of the OECD,2639,en_2825_293564_1_1_1_1_1,00.html
The OECD offers a lot of interesting data, e.g. patent statistics or  
statistics on the purchasing power, but their files are often  
restricted to member-states. However, missing data might be found via  
webportals of other national or even international statistics  

3. CIA Fact Book
Offers a multi-faceted collection of facts for more than 220  
countries/regions. This factbook might also be used for getting  
additional background information on specific countries in the course  
of working on a sonification/submission.

4. International and National Statistics Agencies
Of course, there are a lot of international and national  
organisations hosting databases. Though they might restrict their  
data sets to certain nations, they often provide rather sophisticated  
indicators and measures. Provided that the indicators follow the same  
definition (which were first defined by the UN in 1989), it is also  
possible to merge data from different organisations. Just to mention  
some of them:
- EUROSTAT, the statistics agency of the European Union, http://
- UK National Statistics:
- STAT-US/Internet, which concentrates on economic data, http://
- Stanford University Library provides a long list of links to  
African statistical bodies, 
- UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund, 

5. The economic historian Angus Maddison has spent decades  
researching, reconstructing and estimating basic population and  
economic data for the past 200 years in his book: The World Economy:  
A Millennial Perspective ( 
worldeconomy/), published by the OECD Development Centre in 2001.

Submission Details
- Panel
An international panel of sonification experts, composers, and  
sociologists will select 8-12 entries for the concert, based on  
scientific and aesthetic criteria.

- Deadline
All submissions must be uploaded or received by mail by April 30th  
2006. Please inform us two weeks before the deadline if you plan to  
submit, so we can do better planning of jury activities and schedules.

- Submission Checklist
Valid submissions must include:
   - A set of soundfiles (details below),
   - a short paper (2-4 pages) documenting your sonification,
   - and your contact information (name, e-mail).
You can submit either on CD by mail, or upload as one .zip file by ftp.

- Sound System at ICA
The sound system provided will be a symmetrical ring of 8 speakers.  
During the concert, the audience will be free to wander around, so  
there is no dedicated front direction that everyone will be facing.  
Please check the web-site for a floor plan and the loudspeaker setup.

- Submission Formats and Technical Description
The submission format is WAV soundfiles at a samplerate of 44.1 kHz,  
16 bit linear. You should submit 8 files spatialised for a  
symmetrical ring of 8 speakers, as described above, numbered .wav, <  
YourNameOrNames1 >.wav, etc.
Feel free to include any other information of relevance to the  
technical realisation/rendering of your submission, and when in  
doubt, contact us at: icad.concert -AT-

- Documentation of Sonification Details:
A short paper on context and background of your data choices, mapping  
choices, strategies, etc. etc. Please use the ICAD06 paper template.

- In case your submission needs to be accompanied by visual cues,  
screen projection can be made available. Please include information  
on why your submission benefits substantially from visual support,  
and technical details.

- Participants will be asked to make a short statement (3-5 min) on  
their work within the concert, also with screen projection if desired.

Send CD-ROM submissions to:
Alberto de Campo,
Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) Graz,
Inffeldgasse 10,
A-8010 Graz, Austria

For online submissions, an ftp site is available at
Participants will not be able to see (their own or other)  
submissions. Please send an e-mail to us at when you have submitted,  
so we can check your submission and send a confirmation e-mail as  
soon as possible.

Call and data edited by Alberto de Campo, Christian Dayť, and  
Christopher Frauenberger.

contact: icad.concert AT

Beck, Ulrich (1986): Risikogesellschaft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere  
Moderne. Frankfurt am Main. English edition: 1992, Risk Society:  
Towards a New Modernity. New Delhi.

Drori, Gili S., John W. Meyer, Francisco O. Ramirez, Evan Schofer  
(2003): Science in the Modern World Polity: Institutionalization and  
Globalization. Stanford.

Giddens, Anthony (1990): The Consequences of Modernity. Stanford.

Giddens, Anthony (1999) : Runaway World. A series of lectures on  
globalisation for the BBC, available [here]
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