Jeff Talman - Nature of the Night Sky

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JEFF TALMAN - Nature of the Night Sky - Jeff Talman (Sound Artist) - Daniel Huber (Astrophysicist) - 88450161443 - Released: October 2011 - New Domain ND11011

What do you give to someone who claims they have everything? Or someone who has books by Carl Sagan or Stephen Hawking lining their bookshelves? The answer is simple. You give them the sound of stars, the noise of the cosmos. I'll bet they don't have that lyin' around.

International artist Jeff Talman's debut CD, Nature of the Night Sky, features the sounds of stellar resonance as its sole sound source. Composed of star sounds modeled by astrophysicist collaborator Daniel Huber, Sydney Institute for Astronomy, Talman's 50-minute work was first introduced as an installation in the Bavarian Forest, Germany in May 2011. {New Domain Records}

Like musical instruments, larger stars tend to oscillate at low frequencies while smaller stars oscillate at higher frequencies. The sounds in this project are all based on astronomical observations of star oscillation. Star sound data were scaled by a constant factor of one million to bring sounds into the range of human hearing. {Daniel Huber}

After analysing the dense packs of resonance in Daniel's modeled star sounds, I filtered them to extract each star's principal resonant frequencies and then overlaid these to create the abstract, sonic-temporal forms of the work. The finished sound also features entire scaled resonant sound masses of a star (for example, Nu Indi's "full star" sound at 25:36 into the work). Sounds of fifteen stars were used in the project. {Jeff Talman}

Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and philosopher, is credited with saying, "There is geometry in the humming of the strings. There is music in the spacing of the spheres." This idea of the "Music of the Spheres" has endured over the centuries, ultimately informing how Kepler visualized the movements of the planets, which led him to formulate his laws of planetary motion. The notion that the stars, planets and galaxies resonate with a mystical symphony is a rather fascinating one.

Imagine the sounds of celestial objects light years away, right here and now in your room. It's not far-fetched. After all, your room is built from materials derived from elements of cosmic dust, and has a sonic resonance all its own. Our own sun's thermal turbulence produces extremely loud sounds, but those huge sonic waves are at such low frequencies that humans can't hear them. What Jeff Talman has done, through computer number crunching, is to synthesize the resonant frequencies of stars. Some of it sounds a bit like the "2001: A Space Odyssey" work Atmospheres by composer György Ligeti, but with a more tangible sense of time and space ad infinitum. Fear not, this is not a new age project of overdubbed music and nature sounds, nor is it loaded with tunes that you will be singing in the shower. It is a series of constantly overlapping frequencies spanning over 50 minutes.

Once your imagination takes over, it's like traveling through deep space at almost the speed of light. As you enter a galaxy, you can hear, drifting in and out, the voice of each and every star as you pass them. At the end, you exit the galaxy and the stars fade away as you vanish into deep space again. It's quite the trip!

I won't keep you with all the musical and scientific details behind the recording, but if you are interested, click here to visit Jeff Talman's website, and read up on the catalyst behind this recording project.

Jean-Yves Duperron - December 2011