Audio extract (18 secs) from CD Music of the Spheres (pf - Thalia Myers, elec - Patrick Nunn)

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Score (with CD)

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09-05-05 (extracts) Clare College, Cambridge (pf - Graham Ross)

08-10-05 (extracts) Little Missenden Festival, Little Missenden Church, Little Missenden, Bucks (pf - Janet Davey)

16-03-06 (3 extracts) Philip Lynch Theatre, Lewis University, Illinois, USA (pf - GéNIA)

12-04-06 (extracts) The Mousetrap Theatre, Kuwait (pf - Thalia Myers)

03-05-06 (extracts) St Pauls Girls School (pf - Thalia Myers)

17-05-06 (extracts) David Josefowitz Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London (pf - Thalia Myers)

01-10-06 (extracts) Little Missenden Festival, St Peter & St Pauls, Great Missenden, Bucks (pf - Thalia Myers)

(WP) 11-03-08 (Complete/revised) David Josefowitz Recital Hall, Royal Academy of Music, London (pf - Thalia Myers)

11-04-08 Shunt, 20 Stainer Street, London SE1 (pf - GéNIA)

03-05-08 (3 extracts) Recital Hall, RCM, London (pf - Fintan O'Hare)

29-06-08 The Johnsmas Foy Festival, Town Hall, Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Scotland (pf - Neil Georgeson)

20-07-08 The Clacton Festival, Comfort Hotel, 8 Marine Parade West, Clacton Festival, Essex (pf - GéNIA)

16-04-09 (extracts 1,3,5&6) Teresa Carreno Competition, Bolivar Hall, Embassy of Venezuela, 54 Grafton Way, London W1 (pf - Hannah Watson)

03-05-09 (extracts 1,3,5&6) Girton College, Cambridge (pf - Hannah Watson)

22-06-09 Forest School, Snaresbrook, London E17 (pf - Students)

24-11-10 Cornerstone Arts Festival, Hope University, Liverpool (pf - Ian Buckle)

22-11-12 Schotts Music Shop, 48 Great Marlborough St, London (pf - Natalie Bleicher)

18-06-14 HMS Queen Elizabeth, New York (pf - Neil Georgeson)

30-01-16 St Cuthbert's Church, Fordwych Road, London NW2 (pf - Natalie Bleicher/Thalassa Ensemble)

Programme notes

Score: Music of the Spheres

For piano and sound files (CD) [2005/6 rev.08]

Duration: c.12 mins.


In 2004, I discovered some rather beautiful and exotic sounds that had been produced by Dr Donald Gurnett in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa. These extraordinary sounds were the result of the sonification of data collected from scientific instruments onboard NASA spacecraft. Several months later, an opportunity arose in which I was able to explore the integration of similar fragments within a composed piece of music. The initial miniature Sphere was written to fulfill a given brief specifying a solo work of approximately one minute in duration suitable equally for professional, amateur and student pianists. Having worked with fixed audio and live electronics for many years, I decided to explore the possible combination of piano and space sounds further. These unusual and highly evocative sounds from space provided so much material that I later decided to complete a set of six miniatures based upon them.

Between 2005 and the summer months of 2008, new sounds were created from data provided mainly by Dr Donald Gurnett and Larry Granroth and the radio and plasma wave research group at Iowa University. The majority of this data came from the Voyager I and II spacecrafts and revealed particular sonic characteristics when the data was translated into audio. These characteristics, although similar for each planet, revealed unique identities specific to each planetary passing. After researching many hundreds of files of data for prominent sonic characteristics in their sonogram image and audio representations, a small representative group of sounds was chosen for each planet. These selected sounds were extensively cleaned and filtered to reveal their tonal essence above the surplus noise of space static. Subsequent acousmatic tracks were created with as little modification to the cleaned originals as possible although it was not always possible to keep such purity and retain some sense of musical interest. The piano and acousmatic parts, although strikingly different in their design, form part of a whole.

These miniatures are aptly titled Music of the Spheres and comprise of six pieces that progressively increase in difficulty. Despite this project taking nearly four years to complete, it has been an extraordinary process of discovery. These miniatures are dedicated to Thalia.

© Patrick Nunn 2009