When we count, multiple, divide or do other types of mathematical calculations, we use these ten digits- 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9. When writing words, sentences or other types of written communication we use letters like A, B, C, D, E, F, G and so on. However, computers use a different system of representations called “binary code” to communicate all sorts of information. By using a pattern of 0’s and 1’s over eight spaces or bits, binary code can be used to represent different letters, numbers or symbols that can be used to communicate with other computers or difference forms of modern technologies.
Here is the letter A, capital A, shown in binary code form. 01000001 Notice where the 1 digits fall within the 8 digit sequence. The 1’s are in the second and eighth position in the binary code sequence. I wonder what the letter A in binary code would sound like? If we perform the 0’s as a silence or rest, and the 1’s as a drum sound, it would sound like this!
Let’s do that again.
Let’s add a steady pulse that will play quietly in the background.
Put them together and the letter A in binary code repeated two times sounds like this.
Now it’s your turn. Let’s use our left hand to quietly keep that steady pulse. We will count you in by saying, “1, 2, ready, and.”
Our right hand will perform the binary code rhythm. Let’s perform the letter A sequence twice.
Ready to put your two hands together? The left hand keeps the pulse while the right hand performs the binary code rhythm. For younger students, perform just the right hand binary code rhythm.
This is the letter W, capital W in binary code. 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 1, 1
The 1’s fall in the second, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth position. Let’s perform the binary rhythm in our right hand while keeping the 8-bit pulse in our left hand. Let’s perform it two times through.
This is the letter z, lower case z in binary code. 0, 1, 1, 1, 1, 0, 1, 0
The 1’s are in the second, third, fourth, fifth and seventh spot of the sequence. Let’s perform the letter z in binary code 2 times.
To close out our video, let’s combine all three letters, A, W, and lower case z in binary code rhythm. We will use a snare drum for the letter W, a wood block for the letter A, and an even higher-pitched wood block for the lower case z. If you are in a group of three, each pick a different part to perform. Let’s repeat the rhythms four times.
Performing Binary Code Rhythms was created by Sound Explorations / Terry Wolkowicz
Sonifications translate information into sound. The activity above translated binary code into beats. Explore other sonifications of galaxies, black holes, and more at our A Universe of Sound web site.