The Voice of the Sea


Núria Bonet (ICCMR – Plymouth University, UK).


The Voice of the Sea is a music performance which uses information gathered by a marine buoy off the coast of South East Cornwall, in real-time to determine compositional choices. Factors such as wave height, period, direction, water temperature will directly influence musical parameters. The Voice of the Sea is a piece reflecting the state of the sea at the time of the performance. Therefore, every performance will be unique as the resulting music will be determined by the location of the buoy and the weather conditions at the time of play. Surrounded by speakers, the listeners will be immersed in an extended and real-time marine sonic world of recorded and electronic sounds.


The performance of the Voice of the Sea lasts up to 30 minutes. The data from the buoy are received in real-time and turned into music through data sonification to create a performance which is both aesthetically engaging and intellectually stimulating. Each performance is unique as it reflects the state of the sea on the day; the buoy can also be chosen according to the place where the piece is performed. Visual aids such as a graph of the incoming data and a webcam are meant to help the listener to understand their experience and focus on what they are hearing.

This installation encourages the audience to experience their surroundings, in this case the ocean and its behaviour, in an emotional manner. Music can evoke emotions but also a curiosity for the data used, therefore being a great tool for outreach. This performance is part of a wider research project using environmental and climate change data to compose music; to further public engagement and evaluate the usefulness of music in doing so.

The Voice of the Sea will be first performed on 26 February at Plymouth University as part of the Peninsula Arts Contemporary Music Festival. A summer performance at Balance-Unbalance will create an interesting counterpart to the first performance due to the cyclical nature of winter storms.


Núria is a PhD student at Plymouth University under the supervision of Prof Eduardo Miranda and Alexis Kirke. Her research looks at the use of sonification methods in music composition; her music has been performed by Psappha, Lucilin Ensemble and Vaganza amongst others, and in locations such a disused cotton mill, an underground fortification and the jungle at the Eden Project. Núria also researches Catalan folk instruments. She has published in the Galpin Society Journal and Women&Music.

Balance-Unbalance 2017

Balance-Unbalance (BunB)
is an International Conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between NATURE, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY and SOCIETY as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.

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