Listen to the weather using Sonic Pi and data from Mathematica
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Learn resource—‘sonification’ with Sonic Pi

Listening to the weather

If you haven’t heard of Sonic Pi yet, it’s a brilliant sound synthesiser which runs on the Pi. It can support the learning of computing and also music.

This resource is about using Sonic Pi to ‘visualise’ data using sound; there’s a fancy name for this ‘sonification’. The aim is to use Sonic Pi, with help from another software package which is also part of the standard Pi Raspbian software—Mathematica to take weather (temperature) data and turn it into sound. Why would you want to do this? The ear is very sensitive to changes, and can pick out trends in data which might not be immediately apparent just by looking at a sequence of numbers. Sonification is becoming an important way of interpreting data.

What do I need?

To undertake this you will need:

  • a Raspberry Pi model B/B+ with speakers (for example those in the TV you’re using as a display) or headphones plugged into the audio socket
  • an internet connection, so the Pi can download data
  • a kettle, or other means of making a beverage, during the long process of Step 2 of the worksheet

Make sure you’ve updated Mathematica and Sonic Pi to the latest versions with

sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade

This resource is a re-working of an earlier blog post—Hearing the weather-sonification in Sonic Pi with modifications to suit Mathematica 10 now in Raspbian (version of NOOBS 1.3.10).