Breath is a collaboration of art, science and humanities. The composition of this piece by Elisabet Curbelo brings to life the analysis and sonification of twenty years of carbon dioxide emissions from human activities in Salt Lake City. Author Julia Corbett’s text follows the rising demand for attention to our Breath.

About the Composition

Breath is a piece created for Artivism4Earth. It is a collaboration of art, science, and humanities. The sound of this work consists of spoken voice, oboe, and electronics. The analysis and sonification of twenty years of carbon dioxide from emissions and human activities in Salt Lake City inspired the composition process of the sounds for this piece. The form and rhythmic structure of the oboe part follow the human activities day by day. The piece consists of 365 bars like the days of a year. It starts with an interpretation of March and ends in February. The work builds up from the Spring to the Winter when the inversion takes place. Julia Corbett’s text written for this piece follows the trajectory of the sound building up and demanding attention to our Breath and also the sound of our emissions.

I created the electronics from a mix of sounds obtained from sonifications of the data and field recordings made while hiking Ensign peak and walking 700 East.

Human activities in the valley and the data from their carbon dioxide emissions dictated the pitch selection of the piece. The most crucial pitch in the piece is E5 which is the closest frequency to 667/cm, the carbon dioxide absorption band. The only time we hear an F#4 is at the end of the piece. It is the last note, and it is the closest pitch to the frequency 365 days a year. Then, the pitch set of C, Bb, Eb, and Db was collected by listening to the activity in the valley from Ensign Peak during the inversion. The pollution filtered all the noises letting out just a few pitches that I could hear at that altitude during my hike.

-Elisabet Curbelo

The Science Behind the Art

20 years of hourly carbon dioxide concentration measurements have been obtained at the University of Utah.

Explore the Science


by Julia Corbett

“The air that just entered your lungs and bloodstream – the air that keeps you alive – is the same air that’s in constant circulation around the earth.”



Elisabet Curbelo, composer
Julia Corbett, text
Tim Garrett, data sonification
John Lin, data collection