January 20, 2020
Research article published in the Journal of New Music's Audio for VR edition:
"Concordia: A musical XR instrument for playing the solar system"
Authors: Kelly Snook, Tarik Barri, Monica Bolles, Peter Ericson, Carl Fravel, Joachim Goßmann, Susan E. Green-Mateu, Andrew Luck, Margaret Schedel & Robert Thomas
Journal of New Music Research
Kepler Concordia, a new scientific and musical instrument enabling players to explore the solar system and other data within immersive extended-reality (XR) platforms, is being designed by a diverse team of musicians, artists, scientists and engineers using audio-first principles. The core instrument modules will be launched in 2019 for the 400th anniversary of Johannes Kepler's Harmonies of the World, in which he laid out a framework for the harmony of geometric form as well as the three laws of planetary motion. Kepler's own experimental process can be understood as audio-first because he employed his understanding of Western Classical music theory to investigate and discover the heliocentric, elliptical behaviour of planetary orbits. Indeed, principles of harmonic motion govern much of our physical world and show up at all scales in mathematics and physics. Few physical systems, however, offer such rich harmonic complexity and beauty as our own solar system. Concordia is a musical instrument that is modular, extensible and designed to allow players to generate and explore transparent sonifications of planetary movements rooted in the musical and mathematical concepts of Johannes Kepler as well as researchers who have extended Kepler's work, such as Hartmut Warm. Its primary function is to emphasise the auditory experience by encouraging musical explorations using sonification of geometric and relational information of scientifically accurate planetary ephemeris and astrodynamics. Concordia highlights harmonic relationships of the solar system through interactive sonic immersion. This article explains how we prioritise data sonification and then add visualisations and gamification to create a new type of experience and creative distributed-ledger powered ecosystem. Kepler Concordia facilitates the perception of music while presenting the celestial harmonies through multiple senses, with an emphasis on hearing, so that, as Kepler wrote, ‘the mind can seize upon the patterns’.