What does Space sound like?

The term “experimental music” gets bandied around a lot these days, but what about “science experimental music”?…

Recently I recorded a song, on which every sound (excluding the vocals) was generated using only a high resolution photograph of Space.

The image below, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space telescope, shows the Hubble Ultra Deep Field and is the deepest visible-light photograph of the cosmos. This stunning photograph shows an area spanning billions of light-years across and contains almost 10,000 galaxies. The light from the smallest, reddest galaxies travelled across Space for over 13,000,000,000 years to reach us and shows a time not long after (relatively speaking) the creation of the Universe.

I passed this image through some hi-tech gadgetry (sort of like plugging a camera into a radio…!?!?) which converted it into an audio file, correlating various visual properties such as colour, contrast and brightness, to audio properties like pitch, volume and frequency. 

Then the “Space” audio was fed into a sampler and manipulated into sounds not dissimilar to keyboards, bass, drums etc. Sections of the audio were beat-synced and quantised to accentuate natural rhythms, then used to trigger midi patterns and various bits of analogue synthesizing equipment…

The end result is strangely musical, yet clearly contains the same organic and seemingly unpredictable complexities that can be found everywhere in nature. It seems “God” is a fan of Techno…

The most bizarre thing is that if you convert the finished song’s waveform back into a photograph, there are still clearly visible traces of stars and galaxies… pretty neat huh?

- Kieran


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