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Jiyeh (2006) for computer generated and processed sound first performance: A Concert of Music on Ecology and the Environment, CCRMA, November 9 2006 at the Imaging Environment conference, Stanford University http://shc.stanford.edu/events/ImagingEnvSchedule.htm

Jonathan Berger

Program notes:

Jiyeh is a small coastal town in Lebanon built upon the ancient city of Porphyreon, reputed to be the site where a giant fish delivered Jonah to the shore.

On July 14th 2006 a coastal power station in Jiyeh was attacked in an Israeli air strike causing over 20,000 tons of oil to spill into the Mediterranean Sea. Although there has been relatively little information regarding the ecological impact of this maassive spill a series of sattelite photos show the dispersion pattern of the oil. These patterns appear as Baroque-like ornaments that distort the contour of the Lebanese coast line. The music represents the evolution of these patterns and providing an auditory display of the enormity of this disaster.

Program bio:

Jonathan Berger is a composer and researcher. Berger's research includes developing methods and tools for effective auditory display of complex data. His recent recording of chamber music for strings will be released this Spring by Naxos recordings on their American Masters series.


I was in Jerusalem in July 2006 and read a fleeting and innocuous news report regarding an oil spill on the Lebanese coast apparently caused by an air or ship based missile attack on an aging power plant in Jiyeh. Little information was fothcoming although the estimates of the amount of oil spilled were alarming.

In September I asked Jeff Koseff if he had any information about the spill. He replied that, to his knowledge, there were only sattelite photographs and that those were yet to be carefully analyzed. In the subsequent weeks and months photographs of polluted shore lines have been posted along with sattelite imagery of the spill.

The piece (the first of a set of two pieces, this one for multi-channel playback and a second for solo violin, percussion and string orchestra) uses data from the sattelite photographs to set parameters for synthesis and processing of sounds, as well as creating source audio material using a raster scan direct synthesis method bing developed by PhD candidate Woon Seung Yeo.

Details of the sonification methods and edxamples will be posted below. A rough cut of the work is linked (beware: it's large).

20060716 g.jpg Smoke rising from the Jiyeh power station on July 15 2006



updated images of the coastal oil spill: http://www.zki.dlr.de/applications/2006/lebanon/lebanon_2006_modis_en.html

Google Maps layered view of the spill over time:


Sonification methods:

Since the oil dissemenated in a generally northern direction, image scans were done from south to north (by flipping the image). In addition to Woon Seung Yeo's raster scan synthesis ( http://ccrma.stanford.edu/~woony/works/raster ) which provided the following basic sound source materials:


The dimensions and shape of the spill shown in each sattelite image is represented in the following ways: The width of the spill at each sampled location is sonified by setting filter bandwidth (measured south to north each 25 pixels) at each sample position. Coastal shape as well as the western edges of the spill in each image. are mapped to melodic pitch. A fair amount of 'artistic license' was then applied.

here's a rough cut of the piece : http://ccrma.stanford.edu/~brg/jiyeh-first-draft.aif

http://creativecommons.org/images/public/somerights20.png This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License and ASCAP