Mandala (A Musical Palindrome)

If Wikipedia wasn’t blacked out today, I’d suggest you first go and read up on the idea of the “Music of the Spheres”. It’s an idea that had it genesis in the writings of Pythagoras, who discovered the mathematical relationships between musical tones. The idea was further developed by Plato who suggested that since music and planetary motion both involved mathematical relationships between pairs and triads, that there must be a kind of planetary music waiting to be heard.

So, a musician has decided to try doing just that by creating a piece he calls “Mandala” which is based on the relative periods of the planets. It turns out that he’s created a palindrome (like RACE CAR) that is the same whether it’s played backwards for forwards. Though none of us can ever hope to listen to the whole thing.

Watch and listen:

Universe Today characterizes “Mandal” thusly:

Musician Daniel Starr-Tambor has created a song by assigning each planet a note and speeding up the orbital periods of the planets where 2 seconds represents one Earth year, with a note playing for each orbit. But this isn’t just any typical song; it ends up being a musical palindrome, which means it can be played the same both forwards and backwards … that is, if you lived long enough to play to the end of the song. At the accelerated speeds of the Solar System, Starr-Tambor estimates it would continue without repetition for over 532.25 septendecillion years (5.3225 X 10 56). And with more than 62 vigintillion (6.2 X 10 64) individual notes, this composition, called “Mandala,” is the longest musical palindrome in existence.

I love the ethereal nature of Saturn’s tones breaking in over the rhythm track created by Mecury’s orbit.

About Nick Knisely

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...
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