New album creates a sonic journey through our cosmos

A new free online album takes listeners on a cosmic and sonic journey through space, including past the two giant planets of our solar system, a galactic pulsar and colliding black holes.

Celestial Incantations combines the mysterious “sounds of space” with a massive musical palette, including orchestral and traditional instruments and electronics.

The new album is from the international Sounds of Space group, bringing together Associate Professor Kim Cunio from The Australian National University, UK artist Diana Scarborough and Dr Nigel Meredith from the British Antarctic Survey. It follows their first release, Aurora Musicalis.

Associate Professor Cunio said the new album charted a journey through some of the most mysterious and incredible examples of cosmic space and time across our Universe.

“Space is vast and with this album we have the opportunity to really think about what this vastness means for us as we listen,” Associate Professor Cunio said. “We hope that this album allows people to imagine time and space in the grandest sense.”

Like the team’s first album, tracks on Celestial Incantations use the eerie and normally silent sounds of space to create music depicting interstellar travel, the slow dance of celestial bodies, the orbits of lonely comets and escaping air bubbles from ancient ice cores.

“We even take listeners to the violent scene of super massive black holes colliding,” Dr Meredith said.

“The merger of two black holes was only captured several years ago through the first ever observation of gravitational waves, an almost unbelievable ripple through space and time. This was something Albert Einstein theorised but doubted we could ever capture.”

Dr Meredith said the team used electromagnetic and gravitational waves that travel vast distances across the Universe.

“Space is a vacuum and utterly silent, with no capacity for the transmission of sound waves,” he said.

“In this album we primarily hear the ‘sounds’ of space through the conversion of electromagnetic waves and gravitational waves to sound waves.”

Ms Scarborough said Celestial Incantations came at a time when humans were being inspired by a new era of space exploration and discovery.

“Scientists are proposing new theories on space time, dark matter and our expanding universe based on gravitational wave data and satellite data.

“Our Celestial Incantations album is a musical cocoon transporting us from Earth into this new wilderness, giving listeners time for reflection to ponder on the wonder and mystery of the Universe.”

Associate Professor Cunio said the album also explored how humanity has “imagined” the sounds of space over time.

“As a composer I can almost hear Pythagoras laughing,” he said.

“Pythagoras believed that he could hear the ‘Music of the Spheres’, a series of resonances and possibly even sounds that related to the major celestial bodies.

“Now we can join Pythagoras in a great imagining thanks to the ability of computers to speed up and transpose these phenomena into our perceptual ranges.”

Celestial Incantations is available for free online. It is based on the work of scientists from a number of institutions, including the British Antarctic Survey, the University of Iowa, the European Space Agency, Jodrell Bank Observatory, and the LIGO consortium.

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