Distance and Time: “Fifth From the Sun”

Fifth From the Sun runs a gamut of human scientific inquiry – from the earliest computers (and points before) to the looming Singularity (and points beyond). Incorporating both ambient and rhythmic constructs, the album takes its name from the planet Jupiter’s position in our solar system.

This work initially started as my first set of experiments with translating numbers into musical notes using numbered musical notation. Each number was basically a translation into tones of the numeric distance between Jupiter and the Earth, at specific times throughout human (and pre-human) history. Planetary positions and distances from Earth change over time, depending on where in their orbit around the Sun they are. Using the precession function in some off-the-shelf astonomy software, I pulled distance values from various moments in time. These values were processed by discarding any zeroes, since numbered musical notation uses the integers 1 through 7. However, the first (and only the first) zero encountered would be used to denote a longer note. Example: if a distance was 487,020,000 miles, all the zeros were discarded along with the 8; the 4, 7, and 2 were retained; the 7’s duration, however, when performed, was doubled because a zero had initially followed it. In the key of C, “472” translates to the notes F-B-D. The goal was to obtain 3- or 4-note blocks of notes and then see how they sounded when performed. Often something with pleasing structure or feeling would emerge. These blocks formed the foundations, and the end result of this process can be found in the eight tracks on Fifth From the Sun.

The full 24bit/96kHz album comes with a digital booklet, high resolution album cover, and a collection of computer desktop backgrounds in a variety of aspect ratios, including 4:3, 16:9, and 16:10.

Fifth From the Sun is $8US on Bandcamp.