How does money sound?

Have you ever seen a business graph and thought how does it sound? National Public Radio (USA) translated this idea into a project. They took the Case-Shiller home price index as a basis for a composition – a kind of sonification – and converted the graph into musical notes.


Source: Case-Shiller Home Price Index, via Standard & Poors. Credit: Alyson Hurt.

Then they gave the sheet music to a bariton from Julliard School of Music, New York City. And that’s how it sounds “a decade of U.S. home prices”:

And here is a “decade of Miami home prices”:

I would not call it Sound Branding but it shows how graphs and data streams can be converted to sound and music. In a next step it could be woven into Sound Branding Elements…. Just some food for thought.

Have a great weekend :)


4 responses to “How does money sound?

  1. Hmm…
    This is a very technical translation of the chart. Funny in a way but unfortunately not very creative and unfortunately lacking any real link to the topic the graph is describing.
    How about the sound of coins dropping onto a table. Few coins for the smaller numbers and many coins for the larger numbers.
    Just a thought.
    Take the money and run.

  2. He he, well, pretty obvious but it as a pragmatist, it is easier to use the eyes in this matter, to tell whether it goes up or down.

    Harmonic regards
    Karsten Kjems

  3. I love the mixture of line chart and sound wave. The fluctuation of money seems like the wave of different sound which is quite funny. Let’s use some instrument to interpret the money sound as soon as possible.

  4. Hello Karlheinz,

    I must agree with Mr. Wodrich, it is a rather technical interpretation – that is, if an interpretation was the goal. As a sonification of data, I would describe the same aspects as objectives as with visualisation: simplicity, accessibility & conciseness. Aesthetics would be secondary, though important.
    What is true though is that pitch is the most obvious interpretation of height in visual terms. One could also try to use volume, tempo (with a pulse for example), or timbre for example by modulating the cut-off frequency of a synth sound.

    I think an interpretation this simple is especially useful, if one wants to sonificate multiple streams of data, just as the image does. It would be interesting to hear all three graphs of the data in one piece of sound – maybe with different instruments? That to me would be the real challenge in terms of pushing sonification forward as a means of illustrating information.
    I would not recommend a version with lyrics though, as in the secret bonus track, as multiple lyrics would ruin the accessability, I think.

    Maybe we could hold a little competition on sonificating this piece of data? I’m listening forward to hearing more. :-)


    C. Stiegler

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