Library Edition

Sonic Visualiser is an application for viewing and analysing the contents of music audio files. The Library edition (release 1.9) provides adaptations for the use of Sonic Visualiser at the British Library and new features tailored for musicologists:

- All of the features of the full Sonic Visualiser are provided, except that audio files cannot be saved from it ("Kiosk Edition").

- Two operating modes are available:
  • minimal mode with an easy-to-use interface offering pure playback functionality (closed listening practice);
  • full mode where visualisations (e.g. spectrograms) and audio feature extractions are possible (multimodal listening practice).

- Session templates can be used to load/store the layout of the user interface (waveform, spectrogram, note onsets, etc.) and user parameters.

- Pitch identification can be performed more easily, by comparing against synthesised notes played on the piano keyboard scale in the spectrum and melodic spectrogram representations.

The application Sonic Visualiser Library Edition (release 1.9) for Win32 OS can be downloaded here.

Users interested by the general release of the application should visit Sonic Visualiser's main website .

Vamp plugins (add-ons which extract descriptive information from audio data) can be used jointly with Sonic Visualiser.

How to Install Vamp plugins

Vamp plugins can be downloaded from .

A Vamp plugin set consists of a single dynamic library file with the file extension .dll, .dylib, or .so (depending on your platform) plus optionally a category file with .cat extension and an RDF description file with .ttl or .n3 extension.

To install a plugin set, just copy the plugin's library file and any supplied category or RDF files into your system or personal Vamp plugin location.

The plugin file extension and the location to copy into depend on your platform:

File extension System plugin folder Personal plugin folder
Linux or other Unix .so /usr/local/lib/vamp $HOME/vamp
Mac OSX .dylib /Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Vamp $HOME/Library/Audio/Plug-Ins/Vamp
Windows (32-bit) .dll C:\Program Files\Vamp Plugins
Windows (64-bit) .dll C:\Program Files (x86)\Vamp Plugins

(You can alternatively set the VAMP_PATH environment variable to list the locations a host should look in for Vamp plugins. VAMP_PATH should contain a semicolon-separated (on Windows) or colon-separated (OS/X, Linux) list of paths. If it is set, it will completely override the standard locations listed above.)

Documentation and Tutorials

The reference manual of Sonic Visualiser is available online here and as a PDF file here.

The online book The Changing Sound of Music: Approaches to Studying Recorded Musical Performances by Daniel Leech-Wilkinson explains how to study recorded performances using Sonic Visualiser. Examples of use of Sonic Visualiser to analyse musical expressivity are given in the Chapter 8 - Expressive gestures , along with sound examples.

Further documentation and tutorials can be found on the main Sonic Visualiser website, and on that of the Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music at King's College London.


Sonic Visualiser Library Edition has been developed within the Musicology for the masses project at Queen Mary University of London (EPSRC Grant EP/I001832/1).

Attached files

BarthetDixon_EthnographyMusicologistsMIR_ISMIR2011.pdf - Related article on ethnographic observations of musicologists at the British Library, presented at ISMIR2011 99.8 KB, downloaded 341 times Mathieu Barthet, 2011-11-09 05:13 PM - Sonic Visualiser Library Edition 1.9 (Win32) 9.71 MB, downloaded 196 times Mathieu Barthet, 2011-11-09 06:13 PM

analysing_recordings.pdf - A musicologist's guide to Sonic Visualiser by Nicholas Cook and Daniel Leech-Wilkinson (pdf file) 2.41 MB, downloaded 380 times Mathieu Barthet, 2011-11-09 07:01 PM

svtour-20060630.ppt - Sonic Visualiser Tour by Craig Stuart Sapp (ppt file) 9.53 MB, downloaded 112 times Mathieu Barthet, 2011-11-09 07:03 PM

Barthet_Talk_ISMIR2011.pdf - ISMIR2011 talk on ethnographic observations of musicologists at the British Library by Mathieu Barthet (pdf file) 2.36 MB, downloaded 283 times Mathieu Barthet, 2011-11-10 12:43 PM

sonic-visualiser-reference-19.pdf - Sonic Visualiser reference manual (pdf file) 616 KB, downloaded 2564 times Mathieu Barthet, 2011-11-10 04:37 PM