This chapter examines how sonification has been explored as the basis for musical compositions, often employed or at least perceived as a musical gimmick. Various forms of sonification are discussed including datasets, speech patterns, electromagnetic fields and film, focusing primarily on the use of digital images.

The extensive ways sonification has been developed in the author’s own work in recent years is discussed. This extends both to the design of large-scale structural forms as well as to musical minutiae, the light properties of these images being transformed into sound data. Special attention is given to the author’s series of electronic Studies, which may be regarded as ‘Op music’, a sonic equivalent of Op art. In certain cases these Studies create sonic equivalents of the uncanny optical effects prevalent in Op art, often in ways that are difficult to predict or fully understand.

These techniques constitute in part a borrowing and an expansion of conventional notions of composition and transcription, between parallel art forms. The multidisciplinary nature of such techniques provides a fresh and oblique contribution to questions of (re)appropriation, the ‘originality’ of material and the fundamental relationship between sound and image. The capacity that creative sonification of digital images affords the composer is considerable, both to previsualise their work as well as make tangible both highly abstract and deeply personal musical concepts.