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  • Writer's pictureDonna Hanson

Start Here: the Higgs Boson Rapture

Updated: Aug 25

In 2011, I stumbled upon a composer who had created a piece for the world's voices. No lie. If you had access to a computer with a microphone and video camera, you were invited to sing and record one of the parts of this composition, create a profile on his website, and upload your .wav file. After assimilating thousands of .wav files, he produced a choral piece containing voices from over 80 countries, which you can find here: Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 2.0: Sleep. A couple of years later, I also participated in the Virtual Choir 5.0: Deep Field. I'm an alto.

Based on that super-cool experience, in 2019, I submitted a project to Eric using the LABS Choir VST instrument through Spitfire Audio. The score was adapted from the Higgs Boson (ATLAS Preliminary data) sonification by Domenico Vicinanza. Video assets courtesy of NASA. Composition and production by Donna Hanson, engineering by Walt Hunnicutt.

Eric didn't write back, but I learned a lot about production audio and had the Virtual Choir project not existed...well, neither would the Higgs-Boson Rapture, my first, and hopefully not the last, composition.

Scientists at CERN have been using new techniques to try and learn more about the tiniest particles in our universe. One unusual method they’ve used is to turn data from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) into sounds – using music as a language to translate what they find.

Physics data and music share many similar connections, from resonances and vibrations, to patterns and frequency. By sonifying the data, comparing it to a musical score and then applying what we know about music theory it can give researchers a different perspective on the data. You can read more about the project on CERN's site by clicking this link.

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