Data Sonification Research

Distant Harmony

Here’s the first in a long series of data sonification experiments. This Hidden Music series is a long term interest/project/passion of mine, which involves the systematic translation of ‘non-musical’ data into music. Here’s a simple example, the orbital periods of the planets of the solar system translated into pitch and rhythm. The rhythms are simply created by speeding up the actual orbital periods by 25 octaves (doubling the speed 25 times), and the pitches are created by transposing them up 37 octaves. I haven’t quantized pitch or rhythm, so its both microtonal to the nearest cent  (100th of a semitone) and microtemporal (to the nearest millisecond), but I hear a clockwork beauty in this irrational/chaotic collection of ratios nonetheless. Stay tuned for some even more distant harmony from some ex-planets. I recommend a sub-bass speaker to really feel Uranus and Neptune’s drones. Thanks to Rob Scott for his space science brain, and my long term partner-in-nerd Anna Tanczos for the visuals.


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2 replies on “Distant Harmony”

Nice piece! I did something based on the planets´ cycles myself a while back (see above link). Not as timbrally as sophisticated as yours, but I also found the sonification tempting and enjoyed playing with it. There are several things I´d change if I did it again (I´m not happy with the representations of the asteroid belt or of the comets), but it was fun and I´m proud of it.


Hi David,
Thanks for the message and great work with aurerry, and I appreciate your documentation of it.
All best

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