Rock Music Gets Real

On Tuesday 9th of May Rock Music will take on its true form when scientist Dr Domenico Vicinanza, a Senior Lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England , will be live on stage with the sound of seismic activity from Yellowstone.

 Dr Vicinanza is a leading expert in data sonification, the process of converting scientific measurements into sound.

For the performance, Dr Vicinanza will access seismographic data being recorded by the US Geological Survey in Yellowstone National Park. He has  developed a computer programme which will map the seismographic data to musical notes. It will then be performed by Dr Alyssa Schwartz, Visiting Assistant Professor of Flute and Musicology at Fairmont State University.

head and shoulder image of Dr Vincinanza
Dr Domenico Vicinanza, Anglia Ruskin University, Image credit Dr Domenico Vicinanza

Dr Vicinanza explained:

“We have absolutely no idea how the music will turn out.

“Using my programme I’ll be converting the data to musical notes and if there’s significant seismic activity and big spikes in the data we’re receiving at that time, the music will be incredibly dramatic. Equally it could be quite serene, so it’s a huge artistic challenge for Alyssa to interpret, and it’s really Alyssa who will be taking all the risks.

“Alyssa won’t be able to change any note, but she will be able to interpret the piece of music created before her eyes, and she will be able to creatively use speed, articulation, or make certain parts softer or louder. It might be really difficult to play, but that’s what makes it exciting, and Alyssa is incredibly brave to be doing this in front of a live audience.

“By being able to ‘perform’ what would otherwise be viewed on a graph, we’re able to bring the power of nature to life and help more people experience the natural wonders of Yellowstone.    

“Music, and sound in general, can be a really useful way of experiencing science – for scientists as well as the general public. After all, our ears are much more sensitive to small changes than our eyes.

“Every pattern, spike, or sudden change in the music is a direct representation of what is happening at that spot in Yellowstone at that time. Rather than just looking at a seismograph we can listen to it, and that’s an incredible thing.”

The performance will take place on stage at the  2023 Internet2 Community Exchange conference in Atlanta, Georgia.

body of water and smoke
Photo by Kerry on

Categories: Science

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