Exomusicology and Musical Universals

At the end of last year I submitted a thesis for the Honours year of my degree entitled Exomusicology and Musical Universals. In a 54-page document I explored some of the weirdest musical stuff that I think I’ll ever look at. From musical birdcalls to the music of planetary systems, I created a new tuning system and considered the possibilities of music beyond anything you or I have heard. It was a whole lot of fun, and as part of my research I composed a series of pieces to go with each chapter of my thesis.

This piece is a musical ‘sonification’ of the orbits of planets around a star called HD10180. Putting this data into rhythmic and pitch-based sound helps to hear certain features of the data, like the orbital ‘resonances’ between planets in adjacent orbits, which manifest themselves as rhythmic patterns that repeat at regular intervals. Of course, I took some artistic license in choosing pitches and timbres, making it sound “good”, but the rhythms and rough intervals between pitches are dictated by the data, pure and simple. Check it out: