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Metal Science

A Composer Turned The Northern Lights Into Actual Music

Biologist Karin Lehmkuhl Bodony played a part in it too.

northern lights
Photo: Dreerwin

Biologist Karin Lehmkuhl Bodony lives in the Alaskan village of Galena, where she can very clearly see the northern lights. With the aid of a very low frequency (VLF) receiver and composer Matthew Burtner, Bodony can also now listen to the northern lights.

“What’s really surprising is that you can hear them at any time of day,” said Burtner. “We tend to think of them happening at night because that’s when we see them but the fact that you didn’t have to be out at night was amazing. We could pull out the VLF recorder at any time and just listen to them through the cloud cover.”

According to Burtner in an interview with The Guardian, what you'll hear throughout his piece is actually a mapped version of what the VLF receiver picke up alongside a high-end synthesizer.

“You can then alter the timbre of the sound and have the northern lights play different instruments. That let me really orchestrate with the northern lights, using their input as a controller,” he says.

Check out the full piece called "Songs of the Sky" here. It's actually really beautiful, though maybe it could use some blast beats?

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