This sea shanty recording is an aural representation of extreme storm data

Scientists have transformed data captured during the most energetic series of extreme storms on record into a musical piece, “Song of the Sea,” demonstrating the effects of climate change.

The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) is currently underway in Glasgow, Scotland, and researchers at the University of Plymouth in England have marked the occasion by releasing their digitally altered version of a popular sea shanty, “What Shall We Do With a Drunken Sailor.” The twist: this altered “Song of the Sea” was manipulated using actual data collected during the extreme storms that ravaged the Atlantic coasts of western Europe in 2014. The intent is to demonstrate aurally, through a well-known popular tune, the impact of climate change by providing a snapshot of the devastation and destruction of extreme storms.

“Historically, scientific data has normally been conveyed visually, as charts or illustrations,” said Richard Thompson, director of the University of Plymouth’s Marine Institute, which collaborated with the university’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) on the project. “However, the combination of sound and images provides significantly more alternatives to convey information. ‘Song of the Sea’ is a novel way of using actual climate data in such a way that it controls the music. And with extreme natural events predicted to increase in frequency and ferocity, there is no barrier to its principles being applied to represent the far-reaching effects of climate change on our planet.”

Back in 2015, Eduardo Miranda, a Brazilian composer who heads ICCMR, designed a musical biocomputer, which  translated the electrical energy generated by the slime mold’s movement into sound to compose “music.” He even performed a “duet” with the single-celled organism at a biomusic festival. Miranda also developed a a Brain Computer Music Interface (BCMI), which enabled patients at the Royal Hospital for Neurodisability in London to interact with a string quartet through brainwave signals detected by electrodes placed on the scalp.

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