sdf PhD





Exploring visual representation of sound
in computer music software through
programming and composition



Selected content from
a thesis submitted with a portfolio of works to the University of Huddersfield in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy

December 2013

Samuel David Freeman

Minor amendments
April–June 2014

4: Spiroid

This chapter describes the context and development of the spiroid-frequency-space concept as a visual representation of frequency-domain aspects of sound. As mentioned in §1, my interest in this type of representation has stemmed from a practice of sketching different aspects of sound as abstract properties in geometrical forms. The basic premise of the spiroid-frequency-space is that the pitch-class and octave-level attributes of pitch perception can be mapped to the angle and radius values of a polar coordinate system such as to form a spiral on the plane that represents a frequency-domain continuum. Exploration of the spiroid premise has become an aesthetically motivated endeavour, and was pivotal to the initial inspiration for this project; the concept is present to various degrees in many of the creative works of the portfolio.

The concept of mapping pitch-class and octave-level as polar coordinates is not itself new; it can be connected directly to the ideas outlined in §2.2, and more examples of similar representations are presented within the discussion below. The aim here is to contribute critical evaluation of the spiroid concept through exploration of its uses within my practice, and thereby examine the aesthetic implications and creative potential of this archetypical visual representation.


← 3.7 Software as substance

4.1 Spiroid →