Some time ago, the analyst Charlie Thompson had fun measuring the “Gloom Index” of each Radiohead and the song that won this strange competition was True Love Waits, the studio version contained in their last album A Moon Shaped Pool.
Now it’s time to add another curiosity related to Radiohead, because you know, the ways of Radiohead are infinite. So infinite to conquer, involuntarily, the solar system, thanks to an experiment of Matt Russo, astrophysicist at the Seneca College of Toronto. His task was to convert into MIDI files, thanks to the use of a software, the orbital data provided by NASA. After inputing the data related to Venus, Mercury, Mars and the Earth, what he listened reminded him immediately that melancholic song we said: True Love Waits.
Together with his team, consisting of Dam Tamayo and Andrew Santaguida, he made a cover of True Love Waits with vocal lines recorded by singer Thom Gill and the instrumental version coming directly from space. The video, which you can listen to below, has been published in their official website: SYSTEM Sound.
Russo was inspired by the computer simulations of Trappist-1, the planetary system 40 light-years far from us, that presents “remarkable patterns in the orbits, so all seven planets are coordinated, they’re all kind of ticking in a fixed, repeating rhythm.” On the official site, at this address, you can use the sounds of Trappist-1 to become astromusicians.
The experiment convinced Russo to insist on this path, in order to find out how how the solar system sounds. His explanation is:
“Every time a planet completes a full rotation around the sun, it plays a note. The speed of each planet’s orbit is increased, so it takes less than a year to hear each note. In the case of “True Love Waits,” for example, Mars moves at 34 rotations per minute, or bpm. The notes each planet plays are also based on their movement — if you speed them up millions or billions of times, their motion creates musical pitches”
The data used by Russo are present in NASA’s HORIZONS catalog. The software used is open-source and available on GitHub, to encourage anyone to publish their own “systems”.
Despite the awareness that the meeting between the solar system and True Love Waits was only a coincidence, the creators consider it as “a love song between the Sun and the planets”. The team of scientists has gone even further, recapping the whole matter in a single sentence posted on Facebook:
“We can confirm that Radiohead created the solar system”