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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Listening to Supernovas Public Event

20th June 2014, 19:30, Durham Town Hall, Durham Market Place, Trevor Wishart (Durham University)

Supernova explosions are some of the most energetic events in the cosmos, often shining more brightly than entire galaxies and during these events the naturally occuring chemical elements above Iron in the periodic table are generated in the intense heat of the explosion and then dispersed into the surrounding cosmos. Without these processes, the chemistry of life as we know it would not be possible. However, as humankind is separated from such events by millions of light years, they generate no sound waves in our direction.

The make music from these events Trevor Wishart has mapped the changing electro-magnetic spectrum into the audible sound spectrum, so that we can hear the supernova explosion as a sonic event. The composer will describe how he went about this mapping process, and some of the difficulties encountered en route.

The result in a 8-channel surround-sound event in which 68 days of supernova activity are mapped into 9 minutes of music. The piece concludes with sounds generated, in a similar way, from the light-spectra of various chemical elements, often ringing like bells in the musical space.

Supernova is the outcome of a research project at the University of Oxford, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, to investigate ways in which scientific research and data might be combined with musical composition to create new works.

This Musicon concert, the last in this year's series, is also the final event of Durham KLANG 14. This annual festival, produced by the Durham University Contemporary Art Music Society, combines student productions with professional concerts, providing a rare insight into current sounds and brand new music. More information on Durham KLANG 14 can be found on:

Tickets: £10, Students £4, Under 18s £1 Box Office: Gala Theatre, Millennium Place, Durham Tel: 03000 266600

Contact for more information about this event.