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Data scientists translate emotions expressed on social media into music

By David Young and PA

Published 27/04/2015

Ben Silcox (left) of Havas helia joins Ministry of Sound’s resident DJ Sheldon (centre) and Chris Johnston, CEO of Adoreboard
Ben Silcox (left) of Havas helia joins Ministry of Sound’s resident DJ Sheldon (centre) and Chris Johnston, CEO of Adoreboard

Tweets have been turned into beats by a team of Northern Ireland tech experts who claim to have translated emotions expressed on social media into musical notes.

A team of Belfast-based data scientists, who have already developed software to detect emotional responses generated online, have now added a soundtrack.

Adoreboard, a technology company supported by Queen's University in Belfast, has teamed up with entertainment business Ministry of Sound and global ad agency Havas helia to create a house music interpretation of what Twitter users think about certain individuals and brand names. The scientists have devised mathematical algorithms for 20 emotions expressed in tweets, that turn them into melodies and rhythms.

Feelings such as love, hate, anger, surprise, annoyance and trust each create their own individual sounds.

Ministry of Sound resident DJ Sheldon mixed house music with notes produced by Twitter responses to a number of high-profile brand names and individuals to create an eight-minute track.

Chris Johnston, chief executive of Adoreboard, said emotion and music were a good way to explore the moods of people and brands online.

He said part of the project saw music generated from his company's past research into the emotional responses on social media to the progress of world number one golfer Rory McIlroy's career.

"Initially we used the idea of creating a beat for McIlroy as a brand to reveal the emotional highs and lows of an incredible developing career, as well as the ups and downs in his personal life," he said. "The result is the first sound track generated by human language and emotions from Twitter."

Ben Silcox, chief data and digital officer for Havas helia, said data was often seen in a dry and scientific context.

"Everyone's life for the most part involves online interaction," he said.

"Many of these are intangible, like how we express emotion, mostly through words on social media.

"This project has shown how online data can be brought into the real world to create something new and fun which can be enjoyed."

Belfast Telegraph

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