Although using the visual data from sound waves to create a number of designs – both 3D and 2D – isn’t necessarily a new concept, the clickity-clack process of gathering and making use of the usable data hasn’t been as easy as one might expect. For Brooklyn-based artist and creative technologist Blair Neal, this was a perfect opportunity to create an application that analyzes the structure of a song and automates the process of converting that structure into a 3D model.
In what started as an experiment in May of 2013 for visualizing music in real-time as a physical structure has since turned into Sonic Sculptures, an app that automates the process of turning sound waves into 3D models to use for other projects or for 3D printing.
To create the models, the app performs a Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) audio analysis on the chosen sound file and “spits out” the intensity of the different frequency ranges, which ultimately provides the foundation for creating the three-dimensional structure of the wave.
“The shapes are set up like this: left is generally the bass/low end, right is high end. Red or orange marks are the loudest frequency band at that particular time,” explains Neal. “White to black shows the relative volume intensity of the particular time. You can adjust the number of frequency bands it is looking at and make it more coarse or fine.”
Although the app – which has been released under a Creative Commons license – can be used by anybody to create their own 3D models of anything from a favorite song to a loved one’s voice, Neal is currently looking into teaming up with a musician to print the models in much larger sizes.
Find out more and try the app out for yourself by heading over to Neal’s site.