Yes, You Can Turn Weather Data Into Music

It seems like if we have a data set on just about anything, we can turn it into music. Weather is a little different though in that it’s very organic and changes frequently, sometimes to the extreme, making for an interesting output. Hydrodynamics scientist Graeme Smart for New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) is an expert in accessing natural hazards from floods, caused by storms and tsunami. He also had an idea about how to translate that data into music.

Dr. Smart (a fitting name) used a month of data of Christchurch (the second largest city in New Zealand) temperature, rainfall, windspeed and direction, as well as other rainfall, river and sea levels. These were then fed into a computer that converted the data into a musical score that played those hourly values at a rate of four per second. Different instruments were assigned to each different weather elements, like wind (percussion – cymbals), rain (bells) temperature (strings), river flow (flutes), and rainfall (brass).

While the resulting music sounds pretty robotic and can probably do with a better mix, it’s very interesting and melodic in ways that you might not have heard before. This is actually a 5.1 mix down-mixed to stereo, which might account for some of the imbalances. Take a listen below.

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