A year ago, my software „ASCII Controlled Polysynth“ was first presented at the symposium Invisible Places – Sounding Cities. This software creates an auditory representation of an ASCII graphic by transforming it into sound. It can be used as a sonification tool, for information coding or for some weird kind of additive synthesis.
„ASCII Controlled Polysynth“ automatically captures the number of lines in an ASCII text and generates a pure tone for each line, to which an individual pitch is assigned using an exponential function (the lowest line has a frequency of around 30–40 Hz, the highest around 12–13 kHz, and the frequencies of those in between increase exponentially). The software reads all the lines in the text simultaneously from left to right and modulates the amplitudes of the sine waves depending on the characters in the lines that represent them. The value of the amplitude is defined by the surface area covered by the individual characters – “M” has the highest amplitude, “.” the lowest.
In the video shown above, an ASCII representation of a Moscow street map was fed into the programme. The image was first converted into a text file in which all segments of the picture were represented by 32 characters from the ASCII character set (M, &, @, B, W, Q, 0, E, b, 8, Z, 9, 6, A, I, U, 2, o, z, n, 1, S, t, C, X, 7, x, c, v, i, : and .). “M” was assigned to black areas, “.” was assigned to white ones. The other characters represent different shades of grey depending on how much surface they cover.