Marty Quinn’s

Design Rhythmics Sonification Research Lab

Music of the Earth,

Sun, Planets & Space

Volume 1, 2005

featuring

 

Water Ice on Mars

The Climate Symphony

The Tides of Venice

AIRMAP

El Nino

The Seismic Sonata

Rock Around the Bow Shock

Solar Song

 

Water Ice on Mars

The Water Ice on Mars music is a recent commission for the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona transforming the data from NASA Mars Odyssey’s Gamma Ray Spectrometer and Neutron Data collector into music for public outreach. The melody expresses the hydrogen (water) signal – the higher the pitch, the more water. The bell represents the latitude, low pitch South, high pitch North. The volume of the drum beat expresses the strength of the solar intensity, the louder the more sunlight is hitting the planet. Harmonic counterpoint is contributed by three patterns played as slow bass plucks, medium speed strings, and fast piano lines whose volume reflects the presence of slow, medium and fast neutrons. Each measure of music represents one month of data from a 5-degree range of latitude. The music starts from a southern latitude and presents 12 months of data from that latitude, then moves up at least 10 degrees on the planets surface and presents data from that latitude and so forth till it reaches the top of the planet.

The slow, medium and fast neutron musical patterns are generated using original software which is able to create patterns based on the selection processes used in drumming. For example, in drumming, a paradiddle pattern such as RLRRLRLL is used to play one or more drums. In Design Rhythmics software, such a pattern can select from one or more lists of notes. In the Mars music, each pattern of music is uniquely specified and so creates a pleasant rhythmic permutation and polyrhythm amongst the three patterns.

For the online version, visit http://grs.lpl.arizona.edu/curricula/sonification2b/Sonification_Full/soninv/soniNV2.htm.

 

The Climate Symphony

The Climate Symphony was developed in association with and partly funded by the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

In this composition, 10 datasets derived from ice core samples from Greenland are expressed as musical themes and textures in a symphony. Many ranges of expressions are employed to sonify the data, such as scales of pitches, scales of note patterns, and scales of rhythmic patterns. Merged sonifications convey the values of two or more data points in one sound. The music expresses 110,000 years of ice core history and moves from the past to present at the rate of 50 years per beat or chord. It has been cited by the Director of the National Science Foundation for being an innovative merging of art and science.

 

The music is based on the mathematical analysis of ice core chemical ion records obtained by the Greenland Ice Sheet Project II. It begins 110,000 years ago and travels in steps of 50 years. It begins at the rate of 150 years a second for the first two minutes or 20,000 years and increases to 350 years a second for the remainder of the journey up to 1975. Nine cyclic climatic effects are described by 2209 data points each. These points were derived using principle component analysis of eight ion series found in the ice core. The files are played simultanously. Duration: 7:40 minutes.

Cycle in Years

Climate Element

Musical Description

>70000

Elipticity of Earth Orbit

Transposes all pitched music 0 to 7 semitones.

36500

Obliquity

(Tilt of the Earth)

Five sets of 3 notes in 4th and 5th intervals. Each set is played as an arpeggio up and down. The 5 sets are considered a scale, so the lower sets are played when the earth has less tilt, higher sets are played when the earth has more tilt

1450

Ocean Circulation

This data selects the instruments used to play the "tilt" notes using a scale of three instruments: clarinet, trumpet and muted trumpet.

21000

Precession

(Wobble of the earth; which hemisphere is closest to sun)

Lower two octaves of a C scale, lower values select lower notes. Played by a beautiful sustained organ tone.

11400

Sub precession

Higher two octaves of a C scale, lower values play lower notes. Same tone as 21K.

6300

Ice Sheet Movement

Simple to complex patterns of two sets of 4 tom toms and 4 conga sounds play when it is warmer and values are lower. Selection orders are [1,2] [1,1,2,2], [1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2].Complex to simple patterns (same selections) of 2 agogo bells when it is cooler and values are higher.

 

Sub harmonic of 6300

Closed hi-hat whose volume is controlled by data values.

550

Solar Variability

4 vibraphone patterns in two groups. Two sets of 6 and 12 higher notes complex patterns [1,2,2,1,3,2,2] when warmer. Two sets of 3 and 10 lower note simpler patterns [1,2] when colder, separated by an octave.

Random

Volcanic Activity

Crash cymbal and timpany drum hits whose volume is controlled by data values, louder means more activity. Also the lower the pitch of the timpany, the bigger the eruption.

Time (110000 BC to 1975) in 50 year steps.

Time line

String section starting from very low note of a 5 octave C scale up to very highest note of that scale.

Acknowledgements:

Thanks to Dr. Paul Mayewski, Former Director of the UNH Climate Change Research Center, and Dr. David Meeker, mathematician, who provided the data and insight into its meaning.

 

The Tides of Venice

A few years ago, I was approached by Dr. Davide Tagliapetra of the Venice Marine Institute asking if I could turn the tides of Venice into music. This piece is based on 5-minute data from 2002 in Venice and includes weather related climatic elements. Here is the mapping from data to music.

Data Type

Instrument Timbre

Musical Expression

Low to high data values map to:

wind direction

flute

pitch. (3 octaves)

low to high pitch

wind temperature

french horn

pitch. (3 octaves)

low to high pitch

tidal level

lush string section

pitch. (middle range 2 octaves)

low to high pitch

humidity

String section

pitch. (high range 1 octave)

low to high pitch

humidity

tympany

Pitch and volume (high range 1 octave) When there is high humidity, you should be hearing a drum roll softly in the background

low to high pitch

and very soft to mid volume

Air pressure

1.dramatic string section

2. Key of music

3. tympany

1. pitch. (lower octave)

2. 4 Scales. This changes the scale used for all the other data elements.

3. When the pressure changes, a ceremonial tympany drum is struck at the same pitch as the low strings to call attention to the fact the pressure is changing in some way. The low strings then sustain the value of the pressure, providing an audio contextual element and harmonic counterpoint underneath the melodic interplay of the tides, wind direction and temperature.

1. Low to high pitch

2. Major to minor scale change

3. low to high pitch

wind direction

sitar

pan

Left to right pan

wind velocity

sitar

volume

Soft to loud dynamics

wind temperature

sitar

pitch. (3 octaves)

Low to high pitch

AIRMAP

In this composition, we hear pollution levels recorded during the worst week of 2002. Four air quality analysis stations positioned at various locations in New Hampshire are presented using a complex sonification. Four unique sounds, flute, oboe, clarinet and french horn, represent the ozone levels recorded by the stations from the coast to Mt. Washington respectively. Lower pitches represent lower pollution levels and higher pitches represent higher pollution levels.

Four unique patterns of music, one per station, also express the ozone levels, but in this case, higher octaves are used to represent better days and lower pollution levels, and lower octaves represent worst days or higher pollution levels. This provides a powerful counterpoint to the melodies created by the woodwinds and horn.

Also, bells are sounded when a change occurs from one EPA air quality index to another. Higher bells represent higher levels.

A dance set to this music called Sandstorm, and performed by my wife, Dr. Wendy Quinn, can be viewed at www.vtne.com/Sandstorm.wmv.

Special thanks to Dr. Cameron Wake of the UNH Climate Change Research Center for providing access and insight into this dataset.

 

El Nino

This sonification represents monthly sea surface temperature changes related to El Nino effects in the equatorial pacific from 1868 to 1997 obtained by The Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies at Florida State University (http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/). Special thanks to David Legler for providing help with access to the data.

Data Type

Instrument Timbre

Musical Expression

Low to high data values map to:

Monthly temperature

Harp

pitch. (over 4 octaves)

low to high pitch

The year

Polyphonic chord

Pitch and timbre (each number position in the year is played by a different instrument and the numbers map to pitch.

low to high pitch

The instruments used for the chord are designed to allow the listener to pick out the individual yearly components from the sound mix.

The Seismic Sonata

This work was commissioned by IRIS. In this piece, we hear realtime data vertical movement of the earth recorded from the Albequerque, NM, seismic station during the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake.

The music presents two views of the data simultaneously. In one case, what I call the ‘long view’, we hear the oboe express the changing data. The lowest and highest data values occurring within the data file determine the lowest and highest note played over the whole work. In contrast, the piano expresses what I call the "zoom view", where the lowest and highest values are taken from the next 3 seconds of data. This can be compared to a jeweler’s lens view onto the data. In addition, the magnitude of the numbers contained within the zoom view presents the audio equivalent of a graphic ‘key’. Here we play a descending series of notes, one for every significant number in the data. For example, if the data values ranged up to 3 digits such as 667, then three notes would sound in sequence, one per second. If the values ranged up to 5 digits such as 35467, then five notes would sound in sequence. The strike of a tympani drum also interrupts and notifies the listener when a change in the zoom magnitude occurs.

 

Rock Around the Bow Shock

The region around the Earth that is controlled by the Earth’s magnetic field, called the Magnetosphere, acts for the solar wind as an obstacle, like a rock in a flowing river. Since the solar wind with a speed of 250 – 800 km/s is highly supersonic, the situation is more like a supersonic jet plane rushing through the air. As a jet produces the audible supersonic boom, a loud shock wave (to be heard after the jet has passed already the observer’s position), the Earth’s Magnetosphere produces the equivalent structure, the so-called Bow Shock, in the solar wind.

Such shock waves are formed in many places in the universe with violent motion, around planets, at the Sun, around the solar system where the solar wind is stopped, and where supernovae blast into their neighborhood. In all these cases these shock waves slow down the solar wind, compress the flowing gas or plasma and the magnetic field, heat it up, and accelerate some particles to very high energies. The Cluster satellites cross the Earth’s Bow Shock usually several times during orbits that lead into the solar wind. Thus they can study this shock wave at our front doorstep in detail.

The composition "Rock Around the Bow Shock" has been computer-generated from data obtained during several consecutive crossings of the Cluster spacecraft through the Bow Shock. An overview of a subset of these data is presented on the figure at right. When an individual spacecraft crosses the bow shock, the event is indicated by a vertical line. They start out in the solar wind, as indicated by the high speed in the bottom panel; once they cross into the magnetosphere, the wind speed slows dramatically.

The Audio Key: Data to Music Mapping

H+ Ion Flux: Spacecraft (sc) 1, 3, and 4 H+ flux data plays through three unique and distorted guitars. Each guitar plays a chord composed of three octaves plus one (16 notes) of a Pentatonic scale containing the intervals 3, 2, 2, 3, 2 starting from MIDI note 40. Each of the 16 notes represent 16 energy bins of the H+ ions signal. The data value in each energy bin at any one time controls the volume of the resulting notes in the chord. All other data parameters play through unique instruments using an Algerian scale containing the intervals 2, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1, 2. Unless otherwise stated, the notes start from MIDI note 28 and contain 45 notes, or six octaves plus three.

Magnetic Force: Spacecraft 1 plays through the timbre of a bass string pizzicato. Spacecraft 2 is played through an overdriven distorted guitar (with fifths). Spacecraft 3 is a string ensemble, and spacecraft 4 is played on melodic toms, techno hi-hat, and "vintage (organ) plunk." Musically, we obtain a sense of bass, some drums and percussion, some power from the guitar, and warmth from the strings - a nice balance overall.

Solar Wind Density: Played through woodwinds. Spacecraft 1 data is played on clarinet, spacecraft 3 on oboe, and spacecraft 4 on a sound inspired from "eastern europe" and doubled on pan flute. The notes start from MIDI note 52 and contain 22 notes or three octaves plus one. Here we use a much smaller range of notes so that the resulting sound is more natural. Notes are sustained and lowered in volume when the underlying data values stay the same.

Solar Wind Velocity: Spacecraft 1 is played on "ethno bells," spacecraft 3 on "puff 1080," and spacecraft 4 on "fantasy vox." Here we get sustained sounds and some vocal and sense of world music.

Temperature: Spacecraft 1 data is played through tubular bells. We can easily pick out this sound, whose data provides an environmental context.

Rhythm is determined solely by the timing of when the data was collected by the various spacecraft.

Tempo is set to four times real time. That is, there are about 5 minutes of music for 25 minutes of recorded data.

Solar Song

Produced in cooperation with the Space Science Center at the University of New Hampshire, with special thanks to Dr. Eberhard Moebius and Dr. Mark Popecki for their scientific contribution and support for this project. Please visit http://espg.sr.unh.edu/tof/Outreach for additional information.

In this composition, the music illustrates the hourly changing values of 7 variables representing concentrations and ratios of iron and oxygen atoms, electron energy levels, and counterstreaming electron events. The passing hours of the day are 'noted' on the marimba by an ascending series of 24 notes.

 

Data Type

Instrument Timbre

Musical Expression

Low to high data values map to:

Concentration of Iron (FE)

Oboe

pitch. (45 notes, 6+ octaves, major scale)

Pan Left

low to high pitch

logarithmic scale

Concentration of Oxygen (O)

Oboe

pitch. (45 notes, 6+ octaves, major scale)

Pan Right

low to high pitch logarithmic scale

DE2 Electron Energy Level

Violin

pitch. (45 notes, 6+ octaves, major scale)

low to high pitch logarithmic scale

DE3 Electron Energy Level

String Section

pitch. (45 notes, 6+ octaves, major scale)

low to high pitch logarithmic scale

Ratio of FE to O

Harp

pitch. (45 notes, 6+ octaves, major scale)

low to high pitch logarithmic scale

Hours of the day

Marimba

pitch. (24 notes of a major scale)

low to high pitch