Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Rainwire Prototype: An Environmental Sonification System

A set of slides from Balance/Unbalance 2015 paper + two recordings of the new Rainwire prototype referred to in the paper. A PDF download of the paper presentation is available :

For further background on the Rainwire Project please see :

Download the sound recordings for both rain events discussed in this paper :

Monday, 5 October 2015

Rainwire Prototype [18 June 2015] - Recording & Pictures

A test recording of rainfall on the Rainwire Prototype : 18th June 2015 at The Wired Lab, NSW, Australia. This recording was made using an Olympus LS-100 field recorder using the 2 piezo pickups mounted on the wire. 

A selection of pictures from this recording session. The altitude is about 650 metres above sea level, so there are some very spectacular views of changing rain cloud formations.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Rainwire Prototype - Piezo Contact Mics

Assorted pictures of the first set of piezo contact mics I've custom built for the Rainwire Prototype in January 2015. The green piezoelectric bimorph element converts mechanical vibration into an electrical signal (RS Part Number 285-784).

Thursday, 1 October 2015


A test recording of Aeolian Tones on the Rainwire Prototype : 16th Sept 2015 at The Wired Lab, NSW, Australia. This recording was made using the new Tascam DR-70D multi track field recorder using the 2 piezo pickups mounted on the wire. 

Acknowledgements: Rainwire Prototype is supported by Australia Council for the Arts and The Wired Lab

Rainwire Prototype [Wire Span Construction Nov 2014]

Some assorted pictures of the Rainwire Prototype construction back in November 2014 by David Burraston and local fencing contractor John Fitzgerald. This stage of construction was after the reclaimed electricity poles had been sawn to height and sunk into concrete in their chosen locations.

The pictures show the construction and tensioning of the fencing wire that forms Rainwire Prototype's 180 metre span. The wire span is tensioned by a fence strainer at the Woolshed pole and out on a hill in the paddock is the 'fixed end'.

For an introduction to the Rainwire Project and to hear sound recordings please visit this page.

Pole in paddock that will form the 'fixed end'

Pole in paddock that will form the 'fixed end' + fencing wire on spinner

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Rainwire Project : Introduction

Rainwire encompasses the investigation of rainfall & its application as a medium for artistic, cultural & scientific exchange. The Rainwire project includes development of a prototype Acoustic Rain Gauge using suspended cables (long wire instruments), and subsequently expanded through various collaborations in a range of creative & environmental contexts. Rainwire is an experimental approach at technological appropriation of agricultural based objects for art and science, with particular emphasis on climate change issues and agriculture.

Long-wire instruments are made from spans of fencing wire across the open landscape. Rainwire developed from using contact mic recordings of rainfall ‘playing’ the long wire instruments for music compositions. This enabled a proof of concept study to the extent that the audio recordings demonstrate a wide variety of temporal & spatial rain event complexity. This suggests that environmental sonification has great potential to measure rainfall accurately, & address recognized shortcomings of existing equipment & approaches in meteorology.

Rain induced sounds with long wire instruments have a wide range of unique, audibly recognisable features. All of these sonic features exhibit dynamic volume & tonal characteristics, depending on the rain type & environmental conditions. Aside from the vast array of creative possibilities, the high spatial, temporal, volume & tonal resolution could provide significant advancement to knowledge of rainfall event profiles, intensity & microstructure. The challenge lies in identifying distinctive sound patterns & relating them to particular types of rainfall events.

Rainwire is beyond simple sonification of data, it embeds technology & data collection within cultural contexts. With rainfall as catalyst to draw inspiration from, artists, scientists & cultural groups are key to informing science & incite new creative modalities. At the culmination of the project it is envisaged the prototype technology will be ready for adaptation to a range of contexts such as developing nations,  water management, agriculture & weather/ecosystem monitoring industries.

Previous work on Rainwire was conducted on shared instruments at The Wired Lab. This site will provide details, reports and reflections on the newly built dedicated Rainwire prototype, and include audio examples / images.

The first collection of Rainwire Prototype recordings/mixes using my own custom built piezo contact mics are available here and can be freely downloaded :

A paper and live performance about this project were recently presented at Arizona State University, Phoenix, Arizona, USA at  Balance/Unbalance 2015 Conference. A free PDF download of the paper presentation is available :

For a more detailed background on the Rainwire Project please see :

Funding History 
  • 2014/15 Arts NSW, Arts and Cultural Development Program - Artist Support Travel Grant 
  • 2013 Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Australia – New Art Grant : Rainwire Prototype
  • 2010 Charles Sturt University Competitive Grant to write two short research papers 

Burraston, D. (2015) Rainwire Prototype: An Environmental Sonification System, Balance/Unbalance 2015 Conference. Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ, USA (paper & performance)
Burraston, D. (2013) The Agricultural Vernacular : Technological Appropriation For Adaption In Complex Agroecosystems. Balance/Unbalance 2013 Conference. CQ University, Noosa, Queensland
Burraston, D. (2012) Environmental Sonification of Rainfall with Long Wire Instruments. Leonardo Music Journal 22 (Acoustics) pp 11-14, MIT Press.
Burraston, D. (2012) Rainwire: Environmental Soniļ¬cation of Rainfall, Leonardo Vol 45 (3), MIT Press.

Acknowledgements: Rainwire is currently supported by Australia Council for the Arts, Arts NSW and The Wired Lab