Environmental Sound, Sonic Art, Physical Computing, Performance

The Severn Sounds Player

The Severn Sounds Player is a software program that accomplishes a real-time data sonification and visualisation. The program continuously monitors the weather and tidal conditions in four different Severn estuary locations. Data changes update the dials and monitors on the map and alter the playback of site-specific sound recordings as well as live-generated sounds.

Severn Sounds Player Screenshot

Listeners may choose to tune into one location or to switch between locations. Either way one can discover interesting aspects, such as the unfolding of local weather phenomena, or the interconnection of larger-scale environmental processes.

As the map reveals local differences it is possible to see the movement of the tide in different locations over time, and how this is affected by local weather patterns.

The Severn Sounds Player was first exhibited at the Emotional Geographies conference in Groningen, the Netherlands, July 2013.

Insights from creating the artefact and discussing it with listeners evolved into a paper: Palmer, M., & Jones, O. (2017), Arts and Humanities Perspectives in Studying Intertidal Areas. Presented at International Interdisciplinary Workshop "Between the Tides", Groningen, The Netherlands, 2017


The software artefact sonifies weather and tidal conditions for Avonmouth using open data.

sonifcation schema

The work weaves current environmental conditions into a continuously changing sound piece. To achieve this a mix of sonic techniques were applied: some sounds are generated live and in sync with the incoming data, others are pre-recorded samples which play as the weather and tide conditions change.

The parameters that are being monitored can be fairly easily identified by listening: the rise and fall of the tide (major/minor chords, faster and slower tempo), the wind gusts and their direction (layers of wind sounds and stereo-panning), humidity (various rain sounds) and current temperature (brief saxophone solo per minute).

Example Recordings

Predictions for Avonmouth

Disclaimer: The tidal and weather information provided are for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied on for safety, accuracy or navigation. The authors assume no responsibility or liability for any incident, accident or other situation arising from the use of the data above.