Starlight Starbright

Give your ears a taste:

Lyrics by: Robert Hunter

Life is nothing, not a thing
Nothing less than everything
What force propels the shooting star?
The blood of suns is who we are

Music of the spheres
Beyond our mortal ears
We can hear you in the soul
Where the bells of heaven toll

Starlight starbright
First star I see tonight
No selfish wish have I to make
Shine on, shine on, for your own sake

Vast and ancient distant star
How I wonder what you are
Solemn mystery you reveal
Only life alone is real

Floral gardens in the sky
Eternal blossoms flashing by
Galaxies of columbine
Nasturtium, rose and clinging vine

Starlight starbright
First star I see tonight
No selfish wish have I to make
Shine on, shine on, for your own sake

Haunting voices free of form
Babies crying to be born
A brook beside yon garden runs
Galaxies of streaming suns

Big bang trickles to an end
Falls in upon itself again
Like a sailor's concertina
For his lovely ballerina

Starlight starbright
First star I see tonight
No selfish wish have I to make
Shine on, shine on, for your own sake

Starlight starbright
First star I see tonight
No selfish wish have I to make
Shine on, shine on, for your own sake

Shine on, shine on, for your own sake
Shine on, shine on, for your own sake
Shine on, shine on, for your own sake
Shine on, shine on, for your own sake

© 2012 Ice Nine Publishing (ASCAP)

Sounds of the Universe

Starlight Starbright is sprinkled with sound derived from the barred spiral galaxy in the constellation Eridanus (NGC 1300). The idea behind sonifying galaxies was to make them sound like windchimes in the sky. The Extragalactic Database has dozens of files describing the spectra of various galaxies, giving values of the intensities of various light frequencies. As with the cosmic microwave background sonifications (described in Slow Joe Rain), these spectral files were translated into melodies by assigning intensity values to pitches, so that brighter frequencies were played as higher pitches. These pitches were played of after another, stepping through the data for frequencies going from low to high. This approach translates the contour of the spectral plot into a melody. The timbre chosen was a gong-like sound. To get rhythmic variety suggesting windchimes, the differences in intensity between successive values figured into the amount of time between each strike of the “gong,” as well as the volume of each gong strike. This creates rhythms through the irregular accents and delays between each strike. 

This approach was used for a variety of galactic sonifications that appeared throughout the album. For variety, different sounds were chosen for different galaxies — some sounded like gongs, bells, wooden chimes, and so on. All of them had this same approach to pitch, rhythm, and volume.

hubblesite.org
 

DATA SOURCE: NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database https://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/