Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Music of the Spheres

These sounds, which are radio emissions from the polar regions of Saturn monitored by the Cassini space probe, currently puttering around the ringed planet, would appear to be the genuine music of the spheres. Of course, like astronomical photographs, they've been tinkered about with a bit; the time frame compressed, the frequencies shifted downwards into the range of human hearing. Nevertheless, you are still essentially listening to the sound of a planet. And how hauntingly beautiful it is. Electronic swoops and oscillations have often been used as the default background ambience to soundtrack journeys into (or from) space, ever since Bernard Herrmann used the theremin over the top of his trademark rippling harps in his score for The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Louis and Bebe Barron provided 'electronic tonalities' to summon up the atmosphere of the alien world of Altair IV in Forbidden Planet. Turns out they were spot on.

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