Two Intriguing files about using Sound

Musical Urinalysis

From Omni Continum section, issue unknown

Can't carry a tune? Maybe your bladder can. Now scientists have figured out how to turn a urinalysis into music.

Using a computer and a Moog synthesizer, Michigan State University (MSU) biochemists, Charles Sweeley and John Holland have transformed graphs produced by lab instruments into music. Although what results is atonal rather than melodic, you do end up with a musical urinalysis that can be heard as well as read.

'Most people, including scientists, think we are pulling their legs,' says Sweeley, no pun intended. 'There are funny aspects to this work, but we also see some important applications. Most modern scientific applications. Most modern scientific instruments constrain analysis to only one sense - sight. It is a deficiency. In some cases another sense might be more appropriate.'

In other words, chemical analyses turned into music can help fight information overload. Important data that might be missed by tired eyes skimming over a boring graph may be picked up instantly when turned into music. A sour note, so to speak, in a urinalysis could warn a doctor instantly that a patient has diabetes or some other diseases.

According to Sweeley and Holland, potential applications include industrial quality control, in which analyses are relatively simple and repetitive. Sweeley also thinks a heartbeat could be set to music in the operating room, allowing doctors to listen to what a heart is doing, rather than having to constantly glance at a monitor. - Joel Schwarz

Musical Stocks

From Omni AntiMatter section, issue unknown

Buy or sell? People will try just about anything to give themselves an edge in the stock market. Now there's a new tool - music.

Denver investment adviser Darryl Gammill has converted last year's IBM stock chart to music, which he says the novice can use to predict IBM's movement on the trading floor.

Gammill's score, which he's named 'Audiooptics,' is available on a 45-rpm record or cassette tape. It comes with a chart of IBM's movement from April 1984 to April 1985. 'It takes a little practice to get the hang of hearing what you see on the chart,' Gammill says. 'The idea is to let the ear do the analysis instead of routing the data through your eyes. One novice correctly predicted the stock's movement four out of five times on his first try.'

How can 'Audiooptics' possibly work? Armed with stock charts, Gammill used a computer to translate four variables of IBM's performance into a musical score. A synthesizer generated all the instrumentation;

  • representing the daily stock prices as notes of the melody,
  • the daily trading volume as the volume of the sound;
  • the 50-day moving average as crashing surf;
  • and insider buying and selling as high or low bells and chimes.

'The whole idea,' says Gammill, 'is to give laymen a feel for the market by listening to the actual fundamental variables. Once the person is familiar with the score, he should, with a glance at the daily market listings, hear a revised version of the music in his head. That will allow him to predict where the next musical note, and the stock, ought to go.'

Gammill's system is being upgraded as well. While the current version charts just four variables for IBM, a new LP soon to be released through the Book-of-the-Month club, will chart 14 variables for the top 100 companies in the United States.

Is 'Audiooptics' for real? Richard Hurwitz, director of research for Boettcher & Company in Denver, says, 'Music is basically a mathematical medium, so if price and volume can be charted, then they should be reducible to music, too.' But, he cautions, professional stock analysts rely on 'upwards of fifty or sixty variables,' whereas 'Audiooptics' incorporates at most 14.

If you want to try a copy of 'Audiooptics' for yourself, contact Gammill & Company, 175 Sherman Street, Suite 2020, Denver, CO 80203. (this address might no longer be valid as it is from a now defunct magazine) - Peggy Noonan

If you found this file useful or interesting, please consider a donation or a purchase to help keep KeelyNet online and providing free information. Even a dollar will help. Others sell it, we prefer to share it, thanks!