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NSF Sonification Report

                Announcement of Report on Sonification
                Sponsored by the National Science Foundation

                ***Please forgive multiple postings***

In March of this year the International Community for Auditory Display
(ICAD) completed and published:

"Sonification Report: Status of the Field and Research Agenda"

Sonification is defined in this report as:

"...the use of nonspeech audio to convey information.
More specifically, sonificaiton is the transformation
of data relations into perceived relations in an
acoustic signal for the purposes of facilitating
communication or interpretation."

This report was the result of efforts by a group of researchers brought
together prior to the ICAD 97 conference at a workshop supported by the
National Science Foundation. The executive summary can be found below.

The report can be found at:


If you would like to receive a printed copy of the report ($5.00 to cover
mailing), you can contact:

Terri L. Bonebright, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Psychology
DePauw University
Greencastle, IN  46135
Phone: 765-658-4575
FAX: 765-658-4572

For further information about ICAD activities, including ICAD 2000 at the
Georgia Institute of Technology, April 2-5, visit the ICAD web site:


Gregory Kramer

Sonification Report Executive Summary

Sonification is the use of nonspeech audio to convey information. The goal
of this report is to provide the reader with

(1) an understanding of the field of sonification,
(2) an appreciation for the potential of sonification to answer a variety
of scientific questions,
(3) a grasp of the potential for sonification applications to facilitate
communication and interpretation of data, and
(4) specific ideas for productive support of sonification research.

The field is composed of the following three components:
(1) psychological research in perception and cognition,
(2) development of sonification tools for research and application, and
(3) sonification design and application.
In reviewing the current status of each of these components, some common
themes become apparent. One is a trend toward research in high-level
perceptual issues and development of corresponding complex tools. Another
is the potential importance of multimodal displays. Finally, an overarching
theme is the need for interdisciplinary research and interaction. By
nature, the field of sonification is interdisciplinary, integrating
concepts from human perception, engineering, design, and the arts.

In order to establish a discipline of sonification, three global issues
must be addressed. The first is the need for recognition of sonification as
a valid area of research. The recognition and funding of sonification by
the National Science Foundation (NSF) can play a major role in this
validation. The second is communication within the sonification community.
We propose support for coordinated workshops and conferences and a
peer-reviewed journal of sonification. The final issue is the need to
provide a curriculum for teaching sonification.

We recommend the following research agenda. Perception and cognition
research should focus on dynamic sound perception, auditory scene analysis,
multimodal interaction, and the role of memory and attention in extracting
information from sound. The development of sonification tools should focus
on providing the user with flexible control over data dimensions and sound
parameters and facilitating data exchange to and from varied application
areas. Applications and design research should focus on the formulation of
a method for sonification design. In addition to funding promising flagship
applications, task-dependent and user-centered approaches to sonification
design should be supported. Timbre perception studies should be furthered
and coupled with data-to-sound parameter-mapping research. Other worthy
research topics in basic sonification theory and design research include
aesthetics, metaphor, affect, and applications of gestalt formation.

A coordinated interdisciplinary research effort supported by moderate
funding at the national level is necessary if sonification research is to
prosper. The resultant advances in both basic research and technology
development will contribute to scientific and commercial applications,
which will then feed back into the development of the field. National
Science Foundation funding and leadership can help to accelerate this

Gregory Kramer, Ph.D.
Metta Foundation
310 NW Brynwood Lane
Portland, OR 97229
Fax: 503-292-4982