An Amazing Feat of Human Exploration!
In November, the European Space Agency landed a spacecraft on a speeding comet, hundreds of millions of miles from Earth. The Comet 67P is cruising through space somewhere around 135,000 Kilometers per hour, fast enough to travel all the way around the world at the equator in around 20 minutes! That's more enough to get its driver's license revoked in any state in America! Read more from the ESA.
Among the unprecedented data collection that has ensued, they've recorded the sound the comet is making way out there in space. The "song" coming out of 67P is only at about 40-50 millihertz (remember, humans hear nothing til about 20 hertz). As Peter Kirn plainly puts it, "Your subwoofer isn't exactly going to handle that." So, to actually hear it, it has been pitched up quite a bit; here's the original recording.
I think it is safe to say that this is the most alien sound any of us has ever heard.
Sounds From a Distant Galaxy in Your Laptop
Once I heard this sound, I knew I wanted to make a playable Ableton Live Instrument out of it. Something like this was impossible even a couple of months ago, but now with the help of space-aged technology, I bring you the Comet 67P Synth! It's proof we are living in the future :) .
In the video above, I take you through the ins and outs of the rack. I created controls that I thought would add to the alien-ness of the sounds. The use of Frequency Modulation and Pitch Envelops really help bring out the interstellar qualities of the sound. It's not a pitched instrument, so you probably won't be writing melodies with it. I picture it more as a texture, an atmospheric layer, or even a transition sound that could take the place of your normal white noise rises and falls.
Share Your Work!
I hope you enjoy this very special instrument, it's really the result of some amazing work. I've spent a lot of time attempting to synthesize the sounds of comets and astroids shooting through space, but now we have the real thing! I'm excited to hear how you use it; be sure to post any tracks you make with it on the Soundcloud page dedicated to music made with AfroDJMac Ableton Live Packs.