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Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013

Bubbles reads the words in a document (or corpus) and displays the highest frequency words within proportionately large bubbles. Once you arrive to Bubbles, insert / upload your content and let the tool perform its analysis.

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DocumentationAttributesUser Supplied Tags
Created: Jun 02, 2011
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2013
Background processing Not applicable
Ease of use Moderate
Tool family Voyant
Type of analysis Visualization
Type of license Free
Web usable Web application you launch
February 08, 2012 07:18 AM

What is the sound of text?

Have you ever wondered what a text sounds like? Bubbles, part of the Voyant text analysis workbench, is a unique tool that allows you to both see and hear word frequency in a text document or corpus. Upload or copy and paste a document or URL to the web based interface, and Bubbles will begin to emit an eerie theremin-like sound as it calculates word frequency in the text.

Pitch & Frequency

The pitch of the sound corresponds to the word frequency, so repetitive texts will produce more high pitched sounds. For this reason it is best to remove stop words from the text. Most of the Voyant tools allows for easy stop word removal, but this is unfortunately not as easy to do in Bubbles. The best way to remove stop words is to export the text corpus URL (easy to do using the export menu) and then add the parameter &stopList=stop.en.taporware.txt to the end of it. (e.g. http://voyeurtools.org/tool/Bubbles?corpus=1319762406784.8289 becomes http://voyeurtools.org/tool/Bubbles?corpus=1319762406784.8289&stopList=stop.en.taporware.txt)


The Bubbles interface is visually appealing. Each word appears in its own bubble, the area of which correlates with the frequency of the word. The bubbles jostle for space on the screen as new words are added. A list down the side of the screen displays the most frequent words. At the bottom left of the screen, the tool displays the number of bubbles displayed out of the possible terms in the corpus. The number increases as the tool loads in more terms.


Bubbles is a strange, amusing little application, but nowhere near as powerful and full-featured as most of the Voyant tools. Notably lacking is the option of  easily suppressing common stop words in the text. Bubbles has an attractive interface, but serious researchers will prefer a more flexible word frequency analysis tool, like the Cirrus Word Cloud application, also from Voyant. You may have to enable a java-plugin in your browser before running your analysis. Bubbles is based on an application called Letter Pairs that was developed by Martin Ignacio Bereciartua.

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