The RADICAL project is funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Project Grant (RPG-2020-113).


The ambitious aim of this three-year project beginning in October, 2020 is to develop a fundamental understanding of the relationship between sonification design and the listener and to stimulate a revitalised agenda for sonification research and practice.


Sonification represents (signifies) data and relationships between data through sound (like a Geiger counter for data) but is still not widely accepted. The sonification research community’s understanding of the role played by embodied perception, spatial considerations, and aesthetics in our listening to, and perception of, sonification is very limited. These aspects of sonification cannot be addressed except through an interdisciplinary approach, and this project draws together proven experts in computer science, sonification, listening and perception, ethnography, music composition, and aesthetics to foster a fundamentally new understanding from which to derive concrete guidelines for better and more successful sonification design.

Sonification is the use of non-speech audio to communicate data and data relations but it lacks the general acceptance of information visualisation despite great potential, especially in continuous monitoring situations in which it is impractical to watch a computer screen for long periods. The ways in which people listen to sonifications and make meaning of the sounds they hear is still not well studied and current approaches to sonification research have tended to design sonifications for narrow use cases with results and design heuristics that are not transferable and of mixed success. Furthermore, considerations of the role of aesthetics in sonification listening are very restricted, typically being confined to questions of how pleasant the audio sounds. It is now widely accepted that the act of listening involves embodied perception. That is, making sense of and responding to sound involve not just our ears but are shaped by aspects of our entire physical body as well as our interactions with the space in which listening takes place. We will conduct a comprehensive study of sonification making and listening to form a fundamental understanding of the relationships between sonifications, their designers, and their listeners. The interdisciplinary nature of the project team will enable us to develop a new theory of sonification listening and to derive an aesthetics of sonification which, up till now, has no accepted definition. These outcomes will be important in formulating a new framework for successful sonification design. This in turn, has the potential to help sonification to become more widely used.


A major part of this project is the role of spatialised audio and we will be making much use of Northumbria’s IKO icosahedral loudspeaker.


At Soundstack 2019

Paul Vickers talks with Angela McArthur about the IKO at Soundstack, 2019.

Gerriet K. Sharma talks with Angela McArthur about the IKO at Soundstack, 2019.


Applications are now closed for both research positions and the shortlisting process will commence very soon.

NOTE Due to some problems with Northumbria University’s recruitment portal If you applied for the Research Fellow post at Northumbria before 29 August please contact Paul Vickers.

Project Team

The project team is:

  • Vickers, P. (2020). Sonifications Sometimes Behave So Strangely. In M. Bull & M. Cobussen (Eds.), Bloomsbury Handbook of Sonic Methodologies (pp. 733–743). New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

  • Shaw, T., & Bowers, J. (2020). Ambulation: Exploring Listening Technologies for an Extended Sound Walking Practice. In Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (pp. 23–28). Birmingham, UK: Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

  • Bowers, J., & Hagan, K. (2019). Improvisation at the Edge of Chaos: A Worked-Through Design and Performance Practice for Electronic Improvisation. In International Computer Music Conference.

  • Shaw, T. (2019). Augmented Sound Walk w/ Musée Imaginaire Newcastle, UK.

  • Vickers, P., & Höldrich, R. (2019). Direct Segmented Sonification of Characteristic Features of the Data Domain. In P. Vickers, M. Gröhn, & T. Stockman (Eds.), ICAD 2019 — The 25th Meeting of the International Conference on Auditory Display (pp. 244–253). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Northumbria University.

  • Hogg, B. (2018). Geographies of Silence. In M. Bull (Ed.), The Routledge Companion to Sound Studies (pp. 166–176). Routledge.

  • Vickers, P., Hogg, B., & Worrall, D. (2017). Aesthetics of sonification: Taking the subject-position. In C. Wöllner (Ed.), Body, Sound and Space in Music and Beyond: Multimodal Explorations (pp. 89–109). Routledge.

  • Vickers, P. (2017). Sonification and Music, Music and Sonification. In M. Cobussen, V. Meelberg, & B. Truax (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art (pp. 135–144). Oxford: Routledge.

  • Shaw, T., Bowen, S., & Bowers, J. (2016). Unfoldings — Multiple Explorations of Sound and Space. In Proceedings of the International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (Vol. 16, pp. 152–157). Brisbane, Australia: Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University.

  • Bowers, J., Bowen, S., & Shaw, T. (2016). Many Makings: Entangling Publics, Participation and Things in a Complex Collaborative Context. In Proceedings of the 2016 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systems (pp. 1246–1257). New York, NY, USA: ACM.

  • Freeth, B., Bowers, J., & Hogg, B. (2014). Musical meshworks: from networked performance to cultures of exchange. In Proceedings of Designing Interactive Systems (DIS ’14) (pp. 219–228). New York: ACM.

  • Bowers, J. (2012). The Logic of Annotated Portfolios: Communicating the Value of Research Through Design. In Proceedings of the 2012 ACM Conference on Designing Interactive Systenms DIS 2012 (pp. 68–77). ACM Press.

  • Vickers, P., & Hogg, B. (2006). Sonification Abstraite/Sonification Concrète: An ‘Aesthetic Perspective Space’ for Classifying Auditory Displays in the Ars Musica Domain. In T. Stockman, L. V. Nickerson, C. Frauenberger, A. D. N. Edwards, & D. Brock (Eds.), ICAD 2006 - The 12th Meeting of the International Conference on Auditory Display (pp. 210–216). London, UK.

  • Bowers, J. (2002). Improvising machines: Ethnographically informed design for improvised electro-acoustic music. ARiADATexts, 4.