The night sky is awe-inspiring in scale and complexity. I’m fortunate to live where light pollution is limited, so its splendour is readily available.  Recently, I have been prompted to see it with fresh eyes, on discovering the celestial mechanics phenomenon of orbital resonance.

Gravity does more than just allow a body, say the Moon, to balance in orbit with another, the Earth. It also affects multi-body systems, and can lead to harmonic relations among them. These interactions are boggling; their relationships cycle on huge time and distance scales.

Harmonic resonance examples are easier to grasp by shrinking them down to human scale. By speeding up orbits from periods of many years to a few seconds, some harmonic resonant patterns suggest musical harmony.

Elliptic is a group of pieces derived from examples of harmonic resonance in our solar system. The modular synthesizer has been very helpful, as heavenly bodies are wont to settle into patterns that human bodies balk at. In addition to rhythmic drones and sequences, some instrumental pieces include hand-played parts. There are also four songs, with words that place harmonic resonance in a human context.

Listen on Bandcamp: https://unthunk.bandcamp.com/album/elliptic