Space Music: Buddhist Stars, Sun Sounds and Alphabet's Heaven

BY Robert Lamb / POSTED March 21, 2013
Siamese Burn (King Deluxe) Siamese Burn (King Deluxe)

In this edition of Space Music we’ve got two stunning examples of cosmic sonification (space data transformed into sound data) and one really cool music video from Alphabet’s Heaven that at least kicks off with a shot of the moon. I think that’s enough to merit a post.

So let’s kick things off.

Buddhist Stars
This project comes to us from Astrophysicist Lucianne Walkowicz, who weaves her music with sonified data from the planet-hunting Kepler mission. As explained on the TED blog, she takes the light frequency of distant stars, shifts it into sound and then tweaks it all a little to “convey the dynamic nature of the features on the star’s surface that are creating the changes in the star’s light.”

In the case of the following track, “Powerful Protectors,” she actually mixes in Buddhist chants and Edison’s recording of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” The results are dreamlike:

Walkowicz’s reason for mixing her mixing art, science and spirituality? Well, here’s what she has to say about it:

Many people seek deeper meaning through religion, which is often (though not always) at odds with science. I chose these chants for their rhythmic qualities, similar in nature to the periodic frequencies of the stars I study. As the piece evolves, the sounds weave together – sometimes blending and complementing one another, but sometimes battling and drowning one another out.

But even without the added chants and readings, the sonified data alone conveys a wonderful, ethereal quality:

Sun Sounds
On the subject of sonification, Robert Alexander continues to make a name for himself in the art/science of solar sonification — and now VICE takes us into his creative process with this 10-minute documentary, “Using the Sun to Make Music.”

And finally, here’s the video for Alphabet’s Heaven’ s “Birthday” from Siamese Burn EP on King Deluxe, animated by Renata Gąsiorowska. Absolutely lovely.


About the author: Robert Lamb is a senior writer and podcaster at HowStuffWorks.com, where he co-hosts Stuff to Blow Your Mind with Julie Douglas. He has a love for monsters, an aversion to slugs and a hankering for electronic music.

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