Fractal Audio

The following applet draws a rather odd diagram, as specified by a simple mathematical formula. This pattern is an example of a fractal, a shape that has an infinite amount of detail. You can zoom in by clicking an dragging the mouse across the area of the picture that you wish to view (the most interesting areas are in the darker curves towards the right). As you zoom you will notice that certain parts of the pattern strongly resemble the whole picture on a smaller scale. In fact, there are an infinite number of these repetitions - this is a characteristic of fractal pictures. The Zoom Out button undoes the current zoom, the Reset button reverts back to the original view.

As well as drawing the fractal as a picture, the applet can also render it as audio. It does this by treating the Y-axis of the diagram as the frequency of the sound. Because the fractal has an infinite amount of information, it can be sampled at any rate. Push the Make Audio button to generate a 10 second audio clip based on the area of the fractal that is currently displayed. This involves a lot of processing, so be patient - it will take from about 30 seconds to a minute to complete. Once the sound has been generated, the Play Audio button will reply the clip without regenerating the sound.


I came across a few other sites on the Internet attempting to create audio using fractals, but they all took the approach of generating musical notes. I wanted to know how the fractals sounded when converted into raw frequencies. If you have tried the applet then your already know the answer - like the mutant offspring of Aphex Twin and Philip Glass. I don't think the world is quite ready for such a sound, so in that respect the experiment is a failure.

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