Wrong numbers, wrong melodies

In this 3 minutes and 35 seconds duration  sound piece, the idea was to continue with the idea of using data to create sounds that somehow evoked the data that triggered the sound. I started with the idea of traffic sounds or “noises” as the material to be used. Then the idea was to find data that would be related to traffic. I found an interesting dataset among other interesting thing sources. It’s a dataset the city keeps about the traffic collisions.

The dataset contains details like the time of the events, the location (latitude and longitude), the borough (five boroughs), the cause of the accident, the type of vehicles involved, and the most important, the amount of injured or dead people involved in the accident. I started to think about what to do with the data.

At the beginning, I pretended to trigger sounds of cars, as I previously did with the previous experiment I called Hell-ectronic music. I thought about associating them to the boroughs where the accidents happened. I tried, but it sounded like hell and not too much like music. Another issue was not really having clear criteria about which sound to match each borough. Then I realized the most important and interesting data to use, was the number of injured people or killed people. It is the reason to be for the data. So it can be used to measure how dangerous the streets are on time. And off course to encourage changes in this regard, to make those numbers to be as closest to cero as possible.

Another aspect I wanted to play with was the equation between noise and music, and what we referred in class, as for how listenable it would be. So I started thinking about which sound should I use to relate to the event of injured people. I came back to the idea of traffic sounds, and thought about some kind of ambulance or siren sound.

Then, as I listened to a song I realized that the main melody would be good for this purpose. The song is called “wrong”, by Depeche Mode. The main melody sounds like a siren, and the song’s video is very close to the idea of accidents and traffic. It has a feeling of a nightmare. Very similar to a recurrent dream I used to have when I was a teenager. So I started to look at the song and I found different versions. I finally found the melody without any other sounds. I used this version that lasts 43 seconds in total.

I set it then to play whenever in the accidents a person or more where injured.

The result was very interesting to me. It sounds like some sort of ambulance parade, and also reminded me of the sound effect used in choirs, when people sing the same lyrics and notes in different time, so they overlap, creating some sort of atmospheric sound. But, going back to the concept and idea of the database, it made sense. It evoked the increasing number of injured people through time, in a very emotional way. Also, you can sense when the number decreases at the end of the database sample when there are less of overlapped sounds, and then none at the end of the sample.

A point that in the end turned to be interesting when listening to the result, was the idea that my friend Ayal told me to consider: the contradiction of a beautiful or pleasing sound that was revealing a tragic or unpleasant or ugly fact. I found the final sound piece to be both beautiful and pleasing, but I also feel a lot of dramatic tension when I listen to it.

That is the point a got so far. What I want to do is to learn the different sound methods that will allow me to play with the sound, such as the reverb and delay effects, of others that might make it more rich and interesting. Also to use them in a way that makes sense, in relation to the database.

Other things I would like to explore are the API’s data like real-time alerts, the current speed of the traffic, among others.

A difficulty I faced was dealing with the huge database. The file is to heavy to be easily handled, so I had to work with a piece of it, that resulted in a short piece.


“For the song in good sound quality: (video doesn’t work well after some time)“The one Depeche Mode video that Youtube constantly removes , or something happens to the video. They dont want to share. Wrong .“

Close to the original version of the video:


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