Music of the Spheres is a sound art piece I created inspired by Gustav Holst’s The Planets Suite, Op. 32 and the concept of the Musica Universalis or Music of the Spheres. It was created as part of the MA Creative Media Practice at the University of the West of Scotland. It was developed in Processing using the Minim sound library.
Each of the planets generates a different sound based on real-time parameters such as distance from the earth, position in orbit or rotation about its own axis. This alters the digital audio synthesis in an infinitely-evolving piece.
Similar to Holst’s piece each of the planets has a personality which is reflected in the sound it creates:
- Mars, the Bringer of War
- Venus, the Bringer of Peace
- Mercury, the Winged Messenger
- Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
- Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
- Uranus, the Magician
- Neptune, the Mystic
For example, Mars, the bringer of war, generates the three tones of a G minor chord (G, Bb, D) and alters them based on the position of Mars in the 3D space, creating an ominous foreboding feeling. Uranus, the magician, samples the output of the other planets and plays it back warped by the values of its own position in the virtual solar system.
You can listen to and watch a short extract from the piece below:
I was lucky enough to be able to present the work at the Glasgow Centre for the Creative Arts as part of the seminar/exhibition “Being Human: Digital/Analogue?” In future it could be exhibited in gallery space, but I see the future of the piece in Virtual Reality technology and I am currently developing a port of the code to a Google Cardboard/Daydream app. After this I will look at converting to Oculus Rift. Both of these tasks are made relatively easier by Processing’s great collection of libraries.
The source code for the project is available at: https://github.com/JerryPadfield/MusicOfTheSpheres