Orbital resonance notes

In celestial mechanics, orbital resonance refers to the gravitation influence of orbital bodies – such as planets and moons – on each other, which can evolve into, and out of, synchronized orbits. For example, three of Jupiter’s moons – Io, Europa, and Ganymede – are currently locked together with 1:2:4 orbital periods. With a liberal dose of imagination, sped up into an appropriate time scale, these moons can be considered to execute a basic musical polyrhythm.

Other bodies perform more complex and interesting relationships. Translated into musical rhythms, some of these challenge human performance, but can be expressed synthetically, with sequencers and low frequency oscillators.

As a casual astronomical observer, I find the results fascinating. But, in the interests of producing music that may be of interest beyond the physics lab, I’ve extended the idea of gravitational interactions among celestial bodies to represent interactions among human bodies.

Using orbital resonance polyrhythms as a foundation, the new Unthunk project explores resonance in human relationships, as well as applications of modular synthesis.