The Large Hadron Collider has 'composed' this piece of music, and it sounds a lot like Philip Glass

4 June 2015, 14:05

Data from science's mammoth atom-smashing machine has been transformed into a piece of music. And it's full of triads.

The Large Hadron Collider is considered one of the greatest scientific creations of all-time – and, with a little help, it has now written its own piece of music.

It turns out that the compositions of the Geneva-based multi-billion-pound particle collider sound a lot like the minimalist music of Philip Glass.

The piece was created though a process called data sonification, which turns raw data into long lines of musical notes. These were then structured and arranged by Dr Domenico Vicinanza, a scientist from Anglia Ruskin University.

As a starting point he used three graphs of data from the Large Hadron Collider that had been presented in a paper (called, since you ask, "Observation of a New Particle in the Search for the Standard Model Higgs Boson with the ATLAS Detector at the LHC.") Here's one of them:

The data set was mapped onto a D minor and then F major scale using the vertical positions of the points, creating long lines of melody and harmony (as illustrated below). Dr Vicinanza then cut these long melodies into four- and eight- note phrases, arranging them into a piece of music.

 

"Mapping scientific measurements to sounds is not too different from looking at data in a spreadsheet," Vicinanza told Classic FM, "but using the ear instead of the eye."

He explained that his method helped produce triadic and scale-like patterns from the data, which is what gives the music a minimalist feel. The contours of the data sets also mirrored the shapes often seen in musical melodies.

The composition was commissioned by ATLAS Experiment at CERN in Switzerland and will accompany a new film on the Large Hadron Collider. You can listen to an excerpt of the piece below.

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