Guess the song

Boingboing has a link to a video of San Francisco Ballet principal dancer Muriel Maffre performing “Ballet Mori”…conducted by the earth. It’s a “musical composition modulated line in real time by the fluctuations of the Earth’s movement as measured by a networked seismometer at the Hayward Fault”. The 3 minute dance was in commemoration of the 1906 San Francisco Quake.

The NY Times elaborates:

The seismic fluctuations are transmitted by a sensor at the Hayward Fault in California…a MIDI system programmed with a mix of natural sounds (rock slides, volcanic eruptions, thunderclaps) translates the fluctuations…

I called H.o.p. over as the ballet began and I asked him what the music was. He made several wrong guesses and I told him to stop and simply listen and I would tell him when the ballet was over. He watched a couple of seconds more and then he said, “Earthquake”.

Now I think that’s pretty cool that someone can listen to white noise and make that kind of a guess. Plus, I had the sound way down low (where it does seem pretty much like only white noise) so some elements couldn’t even be heard, such as water gurgles etc., which may have made it more confusing to hazard a guess actually if they could have been readily distinguished. Didn’t realize how low I had the sound until after the guessing game with H.o.p. when I later read around to see exactly how this was done and found mentions of the natural sounds that were used and that it was described as roars and crashes. Roars and crashes? So went back and turned up the volume loud and watched again.

I’m not impressed with the dance itself, at least what I could see in the video, which I know is far removed from the experience (reviews range from great and haunting to calling it unimpressive and “been there done that”) but H.o.p. enjoyed it and it made a good base for discussion on plate tectonics and seismometers and the “living earth”, a concept with which H.o.p. has obviously no problem.

Now, back to static electricity, I think. Yesterday, because of the mysterious event with the scotch tape, we did little science experiments with scotch tape demonstrating static electricity, magnetism etc. Had promised more of the same today.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

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