Category Archives: Stuff

Listen to the radio-cube of the Antennae Galaxies

00:20 by Gavin Starks

Below is the optical image of the “Antennae Galaxies” colliding, as taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.


Overlaid below is a radio-image taken by ALMA. In the ‘image’ in this case, each pixel is actually represents a spectrum of frequencies across the electromagnetic radio spectrum: the ‘image’ is actually a data-cube.

We have transformed this data-cube in two ways.

Firstly, so you can see it on the overlay, we’ve transformed the radio frequencies into visible colours, so you can see a slice of the cube.

Secondly, we’ve transformed the e-m spectrum into an acoustic spectrum. Remember light≠sound: what we are doing is translating the frequency of e-m radiation (‘light’) into a frequency of pressure wave (sound).


Below is the data cube on its own in a playable format: to view & listen, wait a moment (20-30 seconds) while the player below loads. NB: works best on Chrome or Firefox, not IE or Safari.

By clicking the image and moving your cursor around you can “play” a spectrum of the colliding galaxies. Underneath, you can see a visual representation of the frequency spectrum. Spend some time moving slowly around the red(redshifted) areas – there is a surprising richness to the harmonics for such a simple sonification.

Note: this loads a 8MB data-cube before displaying … it could take between 20 seconds to several minutes to appear if you are on a slow connection: but note it did take these photons 70 million years to reach us, so please be patient while they go the last few bit-miles!

If that doesn’t work, here’s a short video of it in action (make sure subtitles are switched on in your youtube player to see a description)


Sources:  HST image, National GeographicWIRED


09:09 by Gavin Starks

Interesting to compare: the sound of electromagnetic measurements of Earth transformed directly into sound, and then slowed down


Slowed down:

with this excerpt of a transitional piece I wrote when I was 19yo (I was moving from traditional tone/rhythm-based music to electronic).

Evolving language

21:01 by Gavin Starks

Evolving thoughts on the language of music, I wonder if our reductionist adoption of the language of physics (cf. Wishart On Sonic Art) should extend to adopt the language of cosmology and quantum mechanics?

Acoustic Cosmology - evolving language

Binary Dust at ISEA 2012

21:12 by Gavin Starks
Here’s a copy of the presentation I gave at ISEA 2012.


Heavenly Discourses – Acoustic Cosmology presentation

03:43 by Gavin Starks
Here’s a copy of the presentation I gave at Heavenly Discourses. I’ll post the video when I get it.

View more presentations from Gavin Starks

Listen to the colliding “Antennae Galaxies”

16:22 by Gavin Starks

Cross posting between my two blogs (not sure what the best approach is for this kind of thing, which is quite apt given the collision-nature of the content), but here’s a sneak preview of some of the work I’ll be presenting on Sunday…

The utterance of a cosmological model?

18:21 by Gavin Starks

“On 12 April 1961 Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space and the first to orbit the Earth. 2011 sees the fiftieth anniversary of that event…”

I am speaking at Heavenly Discourses on Sunday 16th October 16:45 – 18:00. PANEL: Music

I’ll be presenting new work (including sounds and pictures derived from ALMA) that my great collaborators, Andrew Newsam and Julie Freeman, have helped me with (thank you!)

Here’s the abstract of my paper. I am delighted to have been accepted  -esp. as I’m one of the few non-institutional presenters at the conference.

The utterance of a cosmological model?

A conjoining of languages, Acoustic Cosmology is an attempt to describe our audible worlds – a 21st century progression of the music of the spheres – a narrative of acoustic sculpture within n-dimensional space. With no intentional stance on sound as a cultural construct or phenomenology, we openly explore links between cosmology and music, using the language of mathematics and sonic art.

Building on the works Trevor Wishart and Jean-Pierre Luminet, and developed by professional astronomers and musicians, we question and connect the fabric of these non-verbal languages.

Using cosmology and sonic art as its basis, this paper will provide a journey of discovery – a basis for discussion in the junction between music and astronomy, opening up new methods of comprehending scale, connection, depth and complexity. Sound examples and visuals will be included in the presentation.

Binary Dust, “Joan of Arc” – now live

23:52 by Gavin Starks

Joan of Arc is now available. I took the photo on Arran in December last year.

Hope you like it.

[other links: Diogenes, Boomkat, iTunes]

Another image

01:13 by Gavin Starks

experimenting with the copper printout of the name….

Binary Dust, “Absorptance” – now live

23:43 by Gavin Starks

So, “roughly monthly” didn’t quite happen… mostly work taking precedent, and partly getting a photo to go with it.

Composed nine years after Tempest, Absorptance was the first experiment in pulling together the textural soundscape aesthetic with more melodic and rhythmic style of some of my earlier pieces.

You can listen here, and if you like it can buy on iTunes.

(NB: you’ll see another piece in iTunes already (the joys of managing releases … more on that soon).