Universal Synchrony Music (USM) is a cosmic multi-year telematic music project in collaboration with the NASA Kepler Mission and NASA ArtSpace exploring musical, technological and metaphorical realizations of synchrony. Sarah Weaver, a PhD student in music composition at Stony Brook University, composed the piece, coordinated the project and will conduct the Stony Brook performance at the Simons Center Auditorium at 7 pm, while a concert takes place simultaneously via the internet at the Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, Stanford University.
USM Volume 1 premiered in April 2013 as part of the “Virtual Tour: A Reduced-Carbon Footprint Concert Series”, featuring a large professional ensemble of renowned experimental jazz and computer musicians performing together telematically in San Diego, California, and at Stony Brook. Sonifications of data streams on variable stars from the NASA Kepler Mission were shaped as an ongoing “cosmic stream” component of the piece, together with musical concepts including interaction and harmonization with cosmic sounds, creating perception of synchrony across local and extreme distances, exploring the nature of closeness and distance beyond physical characteristics, the nature of sound in a vacuum, and cultural and human levels of synchrony.
USM Volume 2 on April 6, 2014, continues this work and focuses on the metaphor of the NASA Kepler Mission’s search for habitable planets as a search for synchrony. More than 700 planets have been identified in the habitable zone so far through this mission. USM Volume 2 sonifies these habitable planets and the stars they orbit, utilizing data such as light curves, phase curves, surface gravity, magnitude, radius, temperature, celestial coordinates, period, transit depth, transit duration, solar planet ratio, distance from Earth, and orbital alignments with Earth. This sonification gives presence to these planets and stars as a “third location” in the telematic concert and explores their attributes for synchrony. USM Volume 2 has been developed during the past year in close consultation with the performers, data analysts and technologists. The musical concepts include resonance, timbral synthesis, integration, nodal intersections, pulsation, contour, harmonics, inner universe and outer universe relations, and alignment as synchrony.
The Stony Brook performance site on April 6 will take place with support from the Simons Center Art Program; Center for Digital Arts, Culture, and Technology; Stony Brook Department of Music; and Liminal Music Inc. Performers include SBU Jazz Program Director Ray Anderson, trombone; Miya Masaoka, koto; Min Xiao-Fen, pipa and voice; Robert Dick, flutes; Doug Van Nort, Alex Chechile, Cathleen Grado, Shu Yu Lin, computer and electronics; and Sarah Weaver, conductor. Technologists involved in the production are Alain Paradis, Stuart Jackson, Constantin Basica, audio technology; Michael Ricca, Matthew Blessing, David Kerr, video technology; Saman Samadi, technical assistance; Ross Karre and crew, video recording. The Stanford team also includes Madeline Huberth, data analysis; Manaswi Mishra, data formatting; Constantin Basica, Stanford site coordinator. In collaboration with Jon Jenkins, Kepler Mission Analysis Lead Co-I, TESS Mission Data Processing Lead Co-I, Computer Scientist AST Data Analysis; Yvonne Clearwater, New Media Innovation Leader, New Ventures and Communications, NASA Ames Research Center.