Spectrographies: Song Fingerprints of the Sound and Graphics of Music by Baltazar Pérez, Ilana Levin, Raimundo Pérez

Since music albums with cover art became the standard during the vinyl era, these two have become inextricably attached. Now, in the streaming era of digital distribution, a new call is open to bring the music into graphics. Spectrographies is the aesthetic experiment of fusing music and cover artwork through visualization to achieve human-friendly visual representations of songs that work also as their unique identifiers, like fingerprints. By using sound visualization as its main language, Spectrographies proposes a new way to embody music, in which any album can become a unique “photo album” of its content while retaining its original visual distinctiveness.

The process developed to create a spectrography is grounded on the spectrogram, a common sound visualization technique in which a sound wave is decomposed into its constituent frequencies (a spectrum), similar to what happens to white light when we see a rainbow. The color scale used to map the intensity of the frequencies is crafted in order to capture each album’s enfolding art distinctiveness. Then, the song’s sound spectrum and the generated color spectrum are combined in a radial layout, a circular painting of the song from beginning to end where patterns corresponding to the song structure can be observed.