Inspired by the confirmation of gravitational waves, British composer Arthur Jeffes has taken data from the LIGO experiment and set it to music. Without a doubt, these billion-year-old ripples coursing through the fabric of spacetime never sounded so good.
To create the music, Jeffes, in collaboration with NASA astrophysicist Samaya Nissanke, took the various chirps and whistles expressed in the LIGO data and set it to an original score.
Motherboard’s Emiko Jozuka explains:
Jeffes took data from the two black holes colliding and used the audio editing software Logic to chop, stretch, and overlay his own music over the sounds. The waveforms, according to Jeffes, are like exponential curves that acquire a higher pitch as they peak. To obtain his piano lines, Jeffes took these curves and mapped them into MIDI patterns.
“If you stretch them (the waveform models) out, you get other waves inside them. [...] You can get the computer to just track the shape of the waveform—and that’s how I was getting all the piano melodies,” he said.
Jeffes, whose work goes back decades, is also working on an algorithm that converts incoming exoplanet data into music. Because if deep space can’t serve as an artist’s inspiration, what can?