Tag Archives: Jazz

Our Galaxy Expressed as Jazz

Rather than take pictures of the Milky Way, astronomer Mark Heyer decided to capture it in a completely different art form.

This amazing video is part of an article from Interesting Engineering  depicting the motion of the Milky Way translated into a musical score.

While most astronomers love capturing unique and stunning images of the Milky Way, one astronomer wanted to capture the galaxy in a unique way. Astronomer Mark Heyer expressed how the galaxy moves in the musical composition “Milky Way Blues.”

This is no Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” as the music isn’t simply inspired by the galaxy’s sounds; it is the galaxy’s sounds. The University of Massachusetts Amherst professor created an algorithm that transformed the data into a series of notes.

“This musical expression lets you ‘hear’ the motions of our Milky Way galaxy,” he says. “The notes primarily reflect the velocities of the gas rotating around the center of our galaxy.”

Heyer assigned notes to the atomic, molecular and ionized gases that can be found between the stars in our galaxy. He then gave different pitches, tones and note count to the velocity and spectra of each gas phase. For example, atomic gases were given an acoustic bass sound, molecular gasses got woodblocks and piano, and ionized gases became saxophone notes.

“Astronomers make amazing pictures, but they’re a snapshot in time and therefore static. In fact, stars and interstellar gas are constantly moving through the galaxy but this motion is not conveyed in those images. The Milky Way galaxy and the universe are very dynamic, and putting that motion to music is one way to express that action.” He chose to compose this piece using a pentatonic scale – with five notes in the octave instead of seven – and in a minor key, because “when I heard the bass notes it sounded jazzy and blue,” he said.

You can read more about this incredible process here.

Watch the video here.

Enjoy!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post.       Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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WUNC on Jazz: “America’s Coolest Weapon During The Cold War”

Willis Conover, The Voice of America (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(Source: WUNC’s The State of Things via Kim Elliott)

During the Cold War, the U.S. Department of State sent jazz musicians around the world to sell the American way of life. This initiative took place in the 1950s, during segregation and the beginning of the civil rights movement. Jazz was gaining popularity on the international stage partly because of a Voice of America program hosted by Willis Conover, and partly because jazz musicians, like Louis Armstrong, played international tours.

The U.S. government took note of this popularity and decided to send musicians as representatives of the country, even as those representatives didn’t have the full benefits of the freedom they were touting. Many of these multi-racial, multi-gender groups were not allowed to perform within the boundaries of the United States due to Jim Crow.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Hugo Berkeley, director of the new documentary “The Jazz Ambassadors: The Untold Story of America’s Coolest Weapon in the Cold War.” Historian Adriane Lentz-Smith joins the conversation to put the story of the jazz ambassadors into context. Lentz-Smith is a professor of history at Duke University who served as an advisor to the documentary. She’s also the author of “Freedom Struggles: African Americans and World War I” (Harvard University Press/2011). “The Jazz Ambassadors” screens at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham on Sunday, April 8.[…]

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Jazz From The Left: A slight schedule change

Many thanks to Raoul with Jazz From The Left, who writes:

My program, Jazz from the Left, continues on WRMI. With a slight schedule change.

From Jeff White:

“We now have Jazz from the Left on at 0000 UTC Wednesday on 7730 kHz, and at 0100 UTC Thursday on 5850, 9395 and 9455 kHz.”

By the way, for fans of jazz on shortwave radio, I recently found dozens and dozens of air checks of Willis Conover playing jazz on the VOA. These are all excellent quality recordings from the 1950’s through 1970’s [at the University of North Texas Library]. Click here to browse the recordings. Enjoy!

Thank you, Raoul! Your show is excellent–the new time on WRMI has been noted in my calendar.  And thanks for mentioning the UNT archive–it is indeed a superb collection (click here to read an archived post).

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Jazz from the Left on two more frequencies

Many thanks to Raoul van Hall, producer of Jazz from the Left, who shares the following news:

WRMI is adding two more weekly frequencies for Jazz from the Left starting this week on 9395 kHz at 0000 UTC Saturday. For the moment, they are simulcasting the 0000 UTC hour on 9455 kHz, so the program would be on both frequencies.

So that’s a total of four weekly broadcasts on four different frequencies. Thought you and your readers would find that interesting.

Comments can be sent to: jazzfromtheleft@gmail.com

Great news, Raoul!

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Jazz from the Left returns to WRMI tonight!

Zenith-Dial-2

Many thanks to our friend, Raoul van Hall, who writes with some exciting news:

Hi Thomas,

Wanted to let you know that Jazz from the Left returns to WRMI stating tonight for two weekly broadcasts.

0000-0100 UTC Wednesday on 7730 kHz.
2000-2100 UTC Tuesday on 11580 kHz.

Brilliant Raoul! Nothing like Jazz over the shortwaves.  I’ll certainly tune it. And, hey–your show starts in about two hours at time of posting!

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