Moonbell Creates "Beautiful" "Music" From the Lunar Surface

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Moonbell, a surprisingly complex MIDI composer and visualizer that draws inspiration from lunar topographical data, poses a pressing question: Are there songs hidden in the moon's jagged geography? The answer depends heavily on your definition of the word "songs."

Created in part by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, this animated web toy might not render the most appealing soundscapes straight away, but it gives you plenty of tools to at least try to coax notes out of two years of topographical data collected by the Kaguya moon orbiter. There are two playback modes: Orbit, which translates the altitudes along a fixed rotational path into sounds, sort of like a phonograph needle; and Free Scratch, which lets you plot a listening path along the moon's surface with your cursor. Both modes have a slew of MIDI instrument options, as well as adjustable speed.

Fiddle as I may, I couldn't really create anything that most people wold consider listenable—the only consistent aesthetic I could achieve was "Childhood Clown Nightmare"—but that's not the point: For a certain class of aspirational armchair astronauts, anything that brings us even a micrometer closer to experiencing space, the moon, or really, anything that isn't earth in a new way, is an unqualified, unconditional Good Thing. [Moonbell via Pink Tentacle]