Visual processing of sound : My mind has been blown

January 26, 2009 | 4 Comments

Audio Cookbook

Screenshot of the AudioCookbook article

January 26th, 2009 – Have you ever stared at the audio waveforms when working on music and thought about the relationship of the visual and auditory? I have, and have experimented a bit with compositional techniques based upon what I see, rather than what I hear. John Keston from Audio Cookbook has taken that concept a step further and actually taken modified visual data, and transferred it back into audio data.

John began by using a program called Photosounder, and exported audio into a bitmap image. He then manipulated that image in Photoshop and then re-imported it back into Photosounder. You can visit the Audio Cookbook website for more information and to listen to the outcome. This opens up a whole new realm of possibilites for sound design. Insane snares, driving digeridoos, the world is your oyster. Mr. Keston, I salute you!

Audio Cookbook via Synthtopia

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  1. Jean-Francois Charles says: January 26, 2009

    Graphical synthesis is a fascinating topic indeed. There were early experiments to convert an image into a sound, either by drawing a wave shape or a more spectrally-oriented picture. But in terms of software, pioneers have included AudioSculpt and MetaSynth. Today, with a software environment like Max/MSP and Jitter, you can conceive such graphical sound processing operations yourself. You can realize the sound analysis, the graphical transformations, and the sound synthesis from within the same environment, and use it / program it in real time. If you don’t want to learn what’s happening under the hood, PhotoSounder looks like a good option. I would be curious to see a comparison with AudioSculpt and MetaSynth. SoundHack is another tool for spectral processing, but I’m not sure you can play with images like that.

  2. Sean says: January 27, 2009

    @ Jean-Francois Charles : I’ve been looking at Max/MSP recently. Looks pretty neat, do you recommend it?

  3. Jean-Francois Charles says: January 31, 2009

    Hello Sean,
    Well, Max/MSP is an environment to develop yourself all kinds of audio and MIDI processing, especially if you intend to have interactivity. Add Jitter, and you can design your own video / audio interactions to use live. But one thing to have in mind is that it takes time to learn. It is similar to learning a programming language. It takes time. The documentation is great, the community of users is great, but the learning curve is nevertheless steep.
    Learning Max may also be the occasion to learn how digital audio works, and obviously, if you have already good notions in the domain, that will help you get started with Max. To build your own spectral processing using FFT, Max MSP / Jitter is surely one of the best tools for the moment.
    If you use Ableton Live, and find it’s enough in terms of interactivity, that’s fine. If you feel limited, then it would be time to add Max MSP to your toolbox.
    A demo version is available, but only works for 30 days. Plan on installing when you have some free time to play with it, and for more fun, install Jitter at the same time (while checking out the demo).
    To see some of the possibilities, look at this free article about spectral sound processing in spectral domain:

  4. Sean says: January 31, 2009

    @Jean-Francois Charles : Cool, thanks for the info! I just downloaded the PDF you linked and I’ll give it a look.


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