A binary star system in the constellation of Hydra has
been emitting powerful X-rays. After travelling
for 200 years, these X-rays were received by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory.
Wanda Diaz Merced, a blind scientist working at the
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, used the computer program
“xSonify” to convert the X- rays into a sequence of tones. Gerhard Sonnert, of
the same institution, had the idea to turn these audible X-rays into music and
offered it to the composer Volkmar Studtrucker.
Between 2011 to 2012, Studtrucker composed nine tunes from
the sonified X-rays. The first step was to identify appropriate passages in
this string of strange sounds. The second step was to integrate the passages into
a musical context, to find harmonies as well as a fitting form, and to create a
platform for musical processes in the styles of Jazz and classical music. The third
and final step was to play and record the music in a trio with Volkmar
Studtrucker (piano), Gerhard Sonnert (bass), and Hans-Peter Albrecht (drums).
Here you can listen to audio examples of these
compositions and to the original passages that were the starting points for the
If you first listen to the original, then to the
composition, and then go back to the original, your perception might be changed
and you might hear the original, which at first had probably sounded like
noise, as a melody.
For more information about the project, go to the website of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
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