Atom Tone

AV performance - sonification of atomic data


NEXT festival, A4, Bratislava



The base material for the formation of all the sounds are spectral lines of atoms converted into frequencies of tens to hundreds of oscillators of additive synthesis. Each element generates a unique sound spectrum, which is further transformed and modulated by numbers of the Mendeleev Periodic Table of Elements. The project attempts to convert the chemical and physical logic into musical one.



Music as a chemical reaction.


The project is the result of a Jiri Suchanek’s residency with the support of the International Visegrad Fund at A4 – Space for Contemporary Culture, where he worked on the development of an “atomic sound synthesis”. For further musical cooperation he has invited Angakok Thoth, Slovak artist who would refill otherwise strictly digitally generated sound with analog synthesis and processes in his modular synthesizer.



 Each spectral line means one oscillator (sine/tri/saw/tang/wave). The relative intensity is logarithmically recalculated into he loudness of the osc. I use data from NIST database for this project. I use all wavelengths observed in vacuum. So even non visible light is sonificated. Because of huge amount of the lines ( sometimes few thousands) I had to reduce them to not overload the processor with my max/msp patch. Supercollider would be more suitable, but thats the next step… 


From light wavelength in nm I get frequency of the light. The recalculation of the light frequencies of emission/absorption lines into the sound is done by simple dividing. From Thz range I have to go into the audible range 20Hz-20kHz. The dividing factor can be adjusted to create frequency range which fits to my musical needs.

I use dedicated atom’s parameter numbers from Mendeleev periodic table as a modulation sources for filtering, frequency shifting, waveshaping etc…. So the generated spectrum from spectral lines is further transformed. As I realize that it is not possible to logically set one atom parameter to sound parameter I decided to make routable matrix for subjective data routing and own playfull discovering of the inner hidden atomic sonic logic.