The success of online events like the 1st International Reggae Poster Contest, created by Michael Thompson and Maria Papaefstathiou, shows Reggae’s transnational impact. Thanks to a new collaboration between Georgia Tech Sonification Lab and Alternative Reggae band Echo Movement, Reggae has gone even further–it’s now interplanetary. Translating numerical data from two stars, scientists helped to produce an ethereal melody for the band’s upcoming song.
To assist the band in it’s goal of achieving an ethereal sound, the Sonification Lab gathered numerical data from binary stars Kepler 4665989 and Kepler 10291683. Kepler 4665989′s dims and brightens each time it’s neighboring star passes by, which creates a rhythmic sequence. An article on Space.com explains the Lab team then: “input the corresponding numerical data into Sonification Sandbox software to create sonified musical pitches, then cleared up the signal and removed any ambient sound they could.” Echo Movement looped the sequence to create this four-part harmony (the full song will not be available until September).
The band wanted something different from the many other groups that incorporate space sounds. Echo Movement co-founder, David Fowler says: “People have made music with space sounds before, but largely using pulsars and space events that can be recorded in the radio spectrum…We wanted something completely off the chart.” Researchers can alter pitches, tempos and rhythms in the audio, but the band wanted to maintain the integrity of the star data.
Data scientists and journalists continue to explore the line between data visualization and data art, however, it seems less attention has been given to the complexity sound adds to these discussions. Bruce Walker, Georgia Tech Sonification Lab lead professor states: “Sound is the best pattern-recognition tool we have…Instead of visually scanning through a long list of numbers, looking for patterns or random occurrences, sometimes it’s easier to create an audio file and listen for them. Very interesting patterns can often be discovered by using sound.”
As creatives like Shantell Martin, Tahir Hemphill and Aaron Koblin continue to find new ways to combine art and data, who knows how far artistic innovation can go? Clearly, the sky is no longer the limit.