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Birds of a Feather (Les Oiseaux de Même Plumage): Dynamic Soundscapes using Real-time Manipulation of Locally Relevant Birdsongs

William Walker, Brian Belet
This paper and live audio demonstration explores the capabilities of using Web Audio API as a digital audio workstation (DAW) to manipulate sounds from massive server-side databases. Sonic source material comes from a database of birdsongs recorded worldwide by volunteer recordists at xeno-canto.org. Sounds from xeno-canto are chosen to match recent, nearby bird sightings submitted by volunteer birders at eBird. The result is a virtual soundscape derived from the sounds of birds currently present in the user's geographical region. Our client-server architecture delegates database queries and archival storage to the server, leaving the client to concentrate on the aesthetic context of sound modification and manipulation. Engineering issues include separation of client versus server concerns and mashups of crowdsourced databases. Aesthetic issues include which tasks are automated server-side, which are user-controlled client-side, and why. Social issues include single user versus multiple user paradigms, artistic soundscape composition versus commercial applications (e.g., games with evolving sound tracks) using public domain sound sources, music as foreground art versus background audio content, and the larger role of sound and music in current society. Audio results will be demonstrated as each topic is addressed. All the source code for this project is free available under the MIT License at [https://github.com/wfwalker/loco-xeno-canto]. A live demo is at [http://birdwalker.com:9090/quartet.html]
            
@inproceedings{2015_22,
  abstract = {This paper and live audio demonstration explores the capabilities of using Web Audio API as a digital audio workstation (DAW) to manipulate sounds from massive server-side databases. Sonic source material comes from a database of birdsongs recorded worldwide by volunteer recordists at xeno-canto.org. Sounds from xeno-canto are chosen to match recent, nearby bird sightings submitted by volunteer birders at eBird. The result is a virtual soundscape derived from the sounds of birds currently present in the user's geographical region. Our client-server architecture delegates database queries and archival storage to the server, leaving the client to concentrate on the aesthetic context of sound modification and manipulation. Engineering issues include separation of client versus server concerns and mashups of crowdsourced databases. Aesthetic issues include which tasks are automated server-side, which are user-controlled client-side, and why. Social issues include single user versus multiple user paradigms, artistic soundscape composition versus commercial applications (e.g., games with evolving sound tracks) using public domain sound sources, music as foreground art versus background audio content, and the larger role of sound and music in current society. Audio results will be demonstrated as each topic is addressed. All the source code for this project is free available under the MIT License at [https://github.com/wfwalker/loco-xeno-canto]. A live demo is at [http://birdwalker.com:9090/quartet.html]},
  address = {Paris},
  author = {Walker, William and Belet, Brian},
  booktitle = {Proceedings of the International Web Audio Conference},
  editor = {Goldszmidt, Samuel and Schnell, Norbert and Saiz, Victor and Matuszewski, Benjamin},
  month = {January},
  pages = {},
  publisher = {IRCAM},
  series = {WAC '15},
  title = {Birds of a Feather (Les Oiseaux de Même Plumage): Dynamic Soundscapes using Real-time Manipulation of Locally Relevant Birdsongs},
  year = {2015},
  ISSN = {2663-5844}
}