Electromagnetic Music: The Creepy Ambience of Space

Hey there troopers. I have to say it, denigrate Facebook as much as you like, but there is no denying there are plenty of golden nuggets lying about if you happen to be subscribed to the right pages. After spending the last couple of hours listening to and researching the music of our solar system, I decided to put a little post together with my findings.

The recordings featured in the videos here are as spooky and evocative of the vastness of space and the alienness of unexplored worlds as any ambient space horror sound track out there. While there is indeed no sound in space, at least in the sense we experience here in our nice cosy atmosphere, there is a good deal of electromagnetic vibrations. These vibrations are caused by the interactions of planetary (and moon) magnetospheres, ionospheres, and solar winds.

The Voyager probe, the source of data for a much of “space music” around, recorded electromagnetic vibrations in the 10 Hz – 56 kHz range using a plasma wave antenna. Apparently these tracks were all produced from data within the ranges of human hearing (20 Hz – 20 kHz), so presumably the EM vibrations have gone through a 1 to 1 conversion. The results are unnerving, mesmerising and beautiful. My favourite, so far, is the Voyager recordings from Neptune.

More Music From Space

Other sources of space music utilise data from spectrographs, allowing for the music of distant stars, nebula and galaxies to be heard. The following clip, Nebula by Paul Francis, was made with such data but unlike the recordings from the plasma wave antenna of Voyager, the converted data is far beyond the range of human hearing. After converting the recordings to sound waves, Francis reduced the frequency 1.75 trillion times (for our puny human ears to conveniently register).

Paul Francis is an astrophysicist at Australian Nation University. More sound clips and information can be found at his dated but interesting “Sounds of The Universe” website. This track, as the others are released under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 license.

So, if you happen to be working on something spooky and/or sci-fi or just want some interesting ambient sound to free the mind from distraction this might just be what you’re looking for.