Bored at work? This Max for Live device will turn your spreadsheets into music

Is there a single word that better evokes the drudgery of modern-day professional life than "spreadsheet"? They're mighty useful tools, we'll admit, but certainly not something that we typically associate with creativity or utilize in our music-making... until now.

Developer and producer Noah Pred has created a trio of Max for Live devices aimed at turning boredom into bangers through the process of sonification. Sonification Tools transforms raw numerical data - not only from spreadsheets, but strings of numbers from pretty much any source - into music, modulation, effects and audio. Data can be typed in manually, randomly generated or copied in from any text, website, Google Sheet or Excel file. 

Sonification Tools is made up of three devices. Data MIDI transforms data into patterns of MIDI notes to create melodies and harmonies, Data Mod will turn data into modulation sequences to modulate parameters elsewhere in Live, and Data FX uses data entered to control three audio effects (a spectral filter, convolution reverb and wavefolding distortion) or even to generate raw audio. 

Each of the devices is equipped with a number of parameters that fine-tune how the raw data is processed and transformed. Data MIDI is equipped with several 'trigger modes' which can be aligned with a library of 69 scales, so the melodies generated won't be completely random but instead work within a specified key.

A unique take on generative music-making, Sonification Tools looks like a neat way to semi-randomly generate MIDI notes and modulation. If you're not sure what data to throw in, the developer suggests perusing Our World In Data, though we're not sure that we fancy using data on deadly earthquakes and income inequality to determine the vibe of our next track. We recommend heading over to Happy Data instead. 

Sonification Tools is priced at €50.00 and available now for Windows and Mac.

Find out more on Manifest Audio's website.

If you want to find out more about data sonification, revisit our 2022 interview with Valery Vermeulen, the scientist and producer turning data from black holes into music. 

sonification tools

(Image credit: Manifest Audio)
Matt Mullen
Tech Features Editor

I'm the Tech Features Editor for MusicRadar, working on everything from artist interviews to tech tutorials. I've been writing about (and making) electronic music for over a decade, and when I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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