Stellar Evolution is composed for orchestra, on the subject of a star’s life. It relates to physics as the melodies and harmonies were composed by using data sheets about the Sun’s life cycle, from Selin Üstündağ and her team of astrophysicists. The music formed the music installation at Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge University, as part of the SciArt at the Cavendish 2018 Exhibition.
More about Stellar Evolution:
Stars, the torch of our sky, have a life-cycle like living things. In astronomy, this life-cycle is called Stellar Evolution. Depending on their initial mass, every single stars make a trip between evolutionary phases. During evolution process, the absolute parameters such as the stellar temperature, radius, luminosity and chemical abundance, change. We analyse and record the changes in our data
In this project, we focus on our unique star, the Sun. We use its evolutionary phases from the past and also simulate a model for its future. We used the data from the Sun’s main phase (called main sequence, and accounts for 90% of the total stellar evolution), and its later phase (called red giant), two prominent stages in the Sun’s life-cycle.
With each period of time in the Sun’s life, a number corresponding to the Sun’s temperature was defined, based on the light given off by the Sun. Selin Üstündağ then converted this temperature value (measured in wavelengths), to sound tone frequency values within the range of human hearing. These sheets were provided to the composer, Ricky Chaggar, who then composed music using patterns and sequences found in the data sheets. The instrumentation of an full orchestra was chosen, to convey the power and grandeur of the Sun, together with the mysterious nature of the cosmos.
Music composed from data, often results in interesting, yet seemingly random passages of notes and sounds. The audience may be left with a lack of clear melody or accessible structure. Stellar Evolution differs, by presenting memorable melodies and passages and uses data as a stimuli for composing. The aim is to communicate scientific and artistic value and complexity in an accessible manner, to bring a wider audience to the astronomical subject matter and providing new music to communicate this.
Selin Üstündağ: Scientist
Ricky Chaggar: Composer