Massachusetts Geophonic


Massachusetts Geophonic is a performative interactive piece that uses data from the USGS Massachusetts geological map as a palette with which the performer can create music – music from geologic data.

Massachusetts Geophonic is both an interactive piece of music and a musical instrument. It is a interface to create music out of data from the USGS MA geologic map, mapping from the geologic properties of the rocks to sound. The challenge was to map 2D, sometimes qualitative geologic data into a piece of music, which is usually a one-dimensional format (time). To facilitate this Massachusetts Geophonic is open ended. The music is shaped by the performer (or explorer), but its structures are created by the geology. The properties of the rocks are the underlying musical material, and the performer can exploit them in varied combinations.

See the Geophonics page for more information and videos of performances using this software


All you'll need to explore (and perform!) the geologic map of Massachusetts is a mouse, a keyboard and a computer running either Mac OS X 10.5 or newer, or Windows XP or newer.

Download Massachusetts Geophonic for:

View the User Guide (PDF)

Unzip the folder if your browser didn't already do that for you. Place it anywhere you like. Double-Click Massachusetts (Mac) or Massachusetts Geophonic.exe (Windows).



You'll find a quick start guide and documentation in the software itself. Just click the "Help" button.

Built using Max from Cycling '74. See their more detailed system requirements if you have issues.

Thanks to Togu Audio Line for the reverb |

Special thanks to Swissnex Boston for their support of this project |

Windows Specific

On windows the unzipped application will be very large (around 360 MB). The compression I use on the data files on Mac doesn't work in the windows version of Max, so i had to use uncompressed data for now. Sorry about that. But it does mean the program will launch faster on windows.

Mac Specific

On mac you can make the application launch faster at the expense of ~300MB of disk space. Download the windows version and move the folder "data-for-jitter" from "Massachusetts Geophonic/support/" into the "Contents/support/" folder inside the Mac application package. (Ctrl-click and choose "Show Package Contents" to get there.) The app will then default to using these uncompressed data files instead of the compressed PNGs normally included with the mac distribution.

Version History

  • 1.0 :|: 2014-03-10 :|: UI improvements, better documentation, slightly reduced CPU usage
  • 0.1 beta :|: 2014-03-05 :|: 1st public release

Download old versions