Sonification,, Music, Audio, Album, Stolen Mirror,
Idle Hands is a data-driven musical composition based on the Central Statistics Office’s Standardised Unemployment Rate for period from 1983 to 2014 -the total span of the CSO unemployment record. It is a gently evolving piece in G major that expresses the unemployment contour as a function of pitch and timbre. A leading tone rises and falls in time with the unemployment statistics over a small accompanying set of evolving timbral motifs -the harmonic complexity of which reference future gradients of the data contour. There are two complementary elements to the composition, the data and the baseline. Evolving timbre and pitch represent the data. Sustained harmonics centered on G major provide a baseline against which to contextualise the data material. The piece uses granular synthesis, frequency modulation and reverb modeling methodologies and is presented in 31 parts. Each 22s part correlates to a single year in the data and is separated from the next by a rapid instance of rest in the sonification material. The piece offers a unique view of a critical social issue in modern Ireland: the mass unemployment that has come in the wake of the Celtic Tiger’s demise. It reflects our national unemployment crisis back upon the audience through an exploration of the relevant CSO data contour. This current social crisis is contextualized against the similar -and admittedly worse- crisis of the mid-1980’s. This opens a new space that stands independently of politics, media interpretation or public opinion allowing the audience to engage with the statistical profile of Irish unemployment through shared musical experience. Audience members can then decide whether or not to reformulate their opinions based on their experience of the piece.
The social and economic data used in these compositions is provided by the Central Statistics Office.
This piece appears Tides: An ISSTA Anthology, which collects works notable presented and performed over the first 10 years of the Irish Sound Science and Technology Association.