A sonic orrery of our solar system
©2000 by Joe Monzo
In August 2000, I had the idea to create a "sonic orrery" of our solar system, in which the planets's orbital velocities are compared to each other as ratios, the ratios being translated into musical frequencies.
The original "piece" is simply a big chord in which the orbital period of each planet is assigned to a certain frequency. When translated into sound, the range of all 9 planets exceeds the range of human hearing, so i modified it by leaving out mercury and pluto. Two versions of this can be heard in the MIDI-files.
Because the planetary orbits are ellipses rather than perfect circles, the orbital velocity changes thru-out the range of the orbit. I wanted to continue work on the piece by reflecting these changes as changes in pitch. But transforming all of that dynamic data into sound is a daunting task, and i've never resumed work on the piece.
Robert Walker, a colleague who is a microtonal
composer and software developer in England, applied
a simple function to vary each pitch uniquely
over time, creating 9 "glissandoing" notes which
go up and down. This was a "quick-and-dirty" way
of approaching the idea described in the above paragraph.
2003.09.22 -- webpage created