Japanese Earthquake in Audio

Houses afire amid tsunami debris in Natori city ©Logan was his name-o,Flickr

Japan was today hit by the most powerful earthquake the country has seen since records began. The massive quake triggered a huge tsunami which swept across the north eastern coastline.

Over 200 people are feared dead and hundreds of others still missing.

The 8.9 earthquake is the fifth largest in the world since 1900 and scientists say about 8,000 times stronger than that which devastated Christ Church, New Zealand last month.

New York based sound programmer Micah Frank has created this audio interpretation of the seismic waves of the quake.

Micah describes Tectonic on his website as ” a sound sculpture created in real time by earthquakes as they occur across the globe. A tightly integrated system between Max/MSP, Google Earth and Ableton Live processes a stream of real-time data that is translated into synthesis and sample playback parameters.”

When an earthquake occurs the seismic data is relayed to the system and produces sound. Although not the easiest on the ears I found this strangely spooky especially in the parts where the sound becomes more intense.

Whether this counts as audio journalism I’m not sure, but it’s a great example of how audio technology is being used to interpret the world around us. In a story which has dominated today’s headlines and will likely be on the news agenda for sometime it’s an innovative and interesting piece which I think would slot in well as an add-on to online pieces about the disaster.



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