Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Spectrogram Art: A How To Of Sorts

One of my summer goals was to paint a picture. On Pinterest a few weeks ago I saw this website where you can turn a voice recording into sound waves and then the company prints the sound waves onto a canvas for you. I thought that was pretty cool, but I didn't feel like spending that much money on it ($700 for some, ouch) I also found an Etsy site that will do a custom sound wave art of a recording for about $40, again didn't feel like spending that much money.

I studied sound waves etc. in college as part of my degree. What I really remembered most was studying spectrograms. Once a professor gave us a quiz and we had to match spectrogram pictures to words, talk about hard, and useless. I have yet to use that knowledge anywhere in my job. That knowledge did come in useful when I wanted to do this project though. I knew there were free programs that would chart sound waves and spectrograms. Enter Audacity. Here is the run down of how I made my spectrogram art.

Downloaded the free program and played around with it a bit. Figured out what I wanted to say. In this case I went really cheesy and recorded myself saying "I love you Charlie."The way the program works is to chart the sound waves, but on the left under "Audio Track" there is an option to switch to spectrogram, if you so desire. Sometimes when Audacity opens it is in "waveform", make sure you're in "waveform dB" if you want to make a sound wave artwork.

Took a screenshot of the program, since I could not figure out a way to export it or copy and paste it.

In iphoto I cropped it down the the part that I wanted (the area in grey). Hilariously enough the below shot of the spectrogram also shows Charlie slamming the door right after I said I loved him. He had no idea what I was doing and was most likely ignoring me.

I wasn't 100% sold on the spectrogram idea so I did screenshots of both the spectrogram and the waveforms. Here is what they looked like. 

I printed them out as a reference, then got to painting. First I sketched a rough outline on my canvas, then painted the background grey and went from there. 

 Giving each color time to dry I worked from the grey to pink and red, then lastly did the yellow and a few different shades of blue. I was not extremely worried about making it look exactly like the real spectrogram. I figured it was a pretty abstract concept to begin with so I might a well make it look the way I wanted to. Plus, no one is going to know that it was not exactly right anyways, except you know now because I just told you.

Then you have a finished product, and I can check #16 off of my summer bucket list. Now I just have to figure out where to hang it up. 


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