Music in the Stars – Back to the Basics – Anne Katherine


On Monday of this week after struggling to use music editing software I made the important decision to do something almost unheard of in our modern world: I decided to transcribe on paper a bit of the sheet music I have produced. The result is shown to the left.

This radical idea stemmed from my desire to implement the idea I had come up with a few weeks ago inspired by Dr. Wanda L. Diaz Merced, the researcher behind Star Songs (more detail here.) The goal that I am currently pursuing is to take just part of one of the data sets to create a melody that will carry through the finished piece. The reason that I selected the eight lines of music shown above is twofold. The first is that these eight lines have a unique and recognizable sound, and when listening to the full data set I hear potential for a melody in this part. The second is that these eight lines feature three scales that, because of their range, are playable by a variety of instruments. This was important to me because, thanks to a suggestion from one of my mentors, last week I reached out into the Westtown community to ask if any of them would be interested in helping me develop my composition for different instruments.

I was thrilled by the plethora of positive responses that I received. Twelve of my peers from a variety of musical backgrounds have agreed to help me. The instruments that they play include the violin, the cello, the flute, the piano, the guitar, and more. On Tuesday I delivered photocopies of the potential melody to the group and set this accompanying email:

“Hey guys!

Thank you all so much for being willing to help me with my project!

I have put a little bit of sheet music in your mailboxes for you to experiment with. I would love if you would make it sound interesting and beautiful to you using any changes in rhythm, projection, note length, etc. I will ask that you please don’t change the notes themselves (unless you absolutely have to change an accidental or what have you) because they are directly from light frequency coming from a Quasar. I attached a picture of the quasar (just because I think its super cool).

I think that the sheet music is best suited to violinists but I think that others will be able to read it too. Feel free to shift up or down an octave or two as needed.

I would love if once you’re happy with your version you would either shoot me an email and we can make a time to meet or send me a recording. Also, you can of course back out at any time – I know how busy everyone is – this should be a no stress thing. 🙂

Thanks again!

I’m super excited to hear what you come up with!


As outlined in the email my hopes are that they come up with multiple variation of the same melody, hopefully in a variety of styles and genres as Dr. Merced has done in her work.

As for other work this week, I am still in the process of figuring out how to analyze the music itself. I went to the library yesterday in order to get some help in finding sources. The wonderful librarians helped me find a paper that I think will be very helpful along with a $500 book called Interpreting Astronomical Spectra which seems to be exactly what I need. We are looking into an interlibrary loan with the University of Pennsylvania for that one.

Until next time, maybe try using a pencil and paper for a change.

2 thoughts on “Music in the Stars – Back to the Basics – Anne Katherine

  1. Wanda

    Hello Anne! I am so happy to hear about your inspiring and promissing project! I shared it with professor Gerhard Sonnert of the Science Education department at The Center for astrophysics. Keep the hard work and do not hesitate to contact any of us! Dr. Sonnert was the one who made the star sound compositions with his cousin, If you think it may be beneficial for you to get in touch with him please email me . again and again many many many times keep the hardwork!!!


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