[This is a guest post by Kevin Ng*, talking about his infographic project Tune Me Up]
Like most others, music to me acts as an auditory anchor in my life. It allows me to remember, to forget, to facilitate the tasks at hand, and to provide me with hours of enjoyment on end. A particular track may lead to memories of particular instances in my life. Others, such as the ones in my productivity playlist, provide auditory stimuli when working those late hours in the night. I had a discussion with a friend a few weeks back and we stumbled upon this exact same subject: what music do we listen to, why, and how do we personally recall these songs? For me, I tune out when listening to music, and allow myself to sink into the grooves and nodules of a track. I wouldn’t be able to identify a song from the lyrics, but given the instrumentals? No problem.
It is with these thoughts that I decided upon the subject of music when given free reign in my infographics class to track a habit. “Tune Me Up” is thus a self-study of my music habits over a period of two weeks. The title is a metaphor for how I view music; it “tunes” my thoughts, and I in turn tune the tracks I listen to to account for the situation I’m in.
I began the two-week period by carrying around a notebook with me. In it I logged data such as the track and genres I listened to, the mood I was in, the task completed at the time, and my location. I discovered a few days in that tracking each song title was overwhelming, and remembered that my last.fm already did this for me automatically. All I had to do was to track the songs played by music players not supported by last.fm’s service.
By the end, I had bits and scraps of data that I compiled into one spreadsheet. After a few round of sketches, it was clear that attempting to fit all my data into one infographic wouldn’t produce a clear narrative. I therefore pared down my data into a small set that would form a compelling story when brought together.
“Tune Me Up” is composed of a main four-level graphic with additional data that provides a supplementary backstory in clusters below it. The four tiers of the main graphic are as follows from the inner to outer levels: my listening habit by hour, weekday versus weekend; my overall listening habits by genre; my mood versus the BPM of the track; my task or location while listening. These tiers are organized by splitting the circle into 14 portions to reflect the number of days tracked.
By picking apart a particular portion and then seeing the relationships between the different tiers during that particular time allows one to get an overall impression of how my interaction with music fluxes over time. It was interesting for me to see how I respond to music from its beats and not its lyrics, and how my taste changes over the day shape the visualization of my two-week journey.
*Kevin is a graphic designer, proud sufferer of chromatophobia, and unashamed pug lover. At the moment, he is currently studying at YSDN in Toronto. To see more of his work, visit his website or follow him on Bēhance . And if you’re wondering exactly what Kevin likes listening to, check out his last.fm.