Our Sun is reverberating with acoustic energy. The study of this phenomenon is called helioseismology. For a composer interested in creating pieces that draw from astronomy, this was delicious potential material.
While conducting pre-compositional research for the orchestral piece that became Helios, I discovered the Joint Science Operations Center (JSOC) website, a comprehensive archive of data taken from doppler images of the Sun's surface. I knew that it would be possible to sonify the data, but wanted more information about how that could be accomplished. After making inquiries, I managed to connect with Dr. Tim Larson, a Stanford alumnus and global helioseismologist who was pleased to finally meet a musician who was interested in pursuing such an idea.
I introduced him to Dr. Seth Shafer, a composer and music technologist and together we formed the SoSH Project, leading to an open source software that sonifies data in order to hear the Sun. (To learn more about helioseismology, click here. To see our website and learn to use our software, click here.)
We have since presented our work at the NYC Electroacoustic Music Festival, the Int'l Conference for Auditory Display in London, the 234th American Astronomical Society Conference in St. Louis, and the Alliance for Women in Media Arts and Sciences at UC Santa Barbara.
In March of 2019, I had the pleasure of traveling to Stanford University with Tim to present our work to the solar physics department. (Below are some photos from that incredible experience.)
The team has now connected with talented animators and we are currently producing a planetarium documentary about helioseismology. Please check back for updates!
To read our papers, click here.
Here I am at the head of the table presenting Helios to the Stanford Solar Physics Department. This included a brief mention about Music of the Spheres, a bit of science and music history that Tim assured me might be unfamiliar to some of these scientists!
Dr. Phil Scherrer and his amazing wife, Debbie with my score that was directly inspired by their work and research in solar physics. Much of what we know about the Sun today can be credited to them. It was an honor to meet these amazing and lovely people.