The pitches used are the frequencies of 7 millisecond pulsars in globular cluster 47 Tucanae. Millisecond pulsars are extremely fast spinning neutron stars, stars towards the end of their life, which emit electromagnetic radiation at their poles. We are able to detect these stars if their beam of radiation sweeps past earth whist rotating – akin to a the beam from a lighthouse. Millisecond pulsars can spin hundreds of times a second meaning when we observe this data sonically (sounding a pulse with each electromagnetic wave received) we hear the information as pitches. This might be what pulsars sounded like if we had electromagnetic ears. They are exquisite timekeepers and as such, allow us to understand more about the universe by means of studying the errors we receive in their signals.
Many millisecond pulsars are part of a binary system – a system of 2 stars orbiting each other, in fact many of all the stars we see are actually in binary systems. The behaviours of these stellar pairs is personal. Some are very distant, take millennia to orbit each other, barely interacting, if at all in their lifetimes. Some pairs are close enough for their gravity to bring them spiraling inwards, crashing together violently, perhaps forming a black hole. Some go through to and fro cycles, transferring mass and dynamically changing each other. Some binaries end up alone after consuming their companion. Every systems’ unique properties creates an individual blueprint of the pair. Millisecond pulsars are likely widows.
This piece sees the performers affecting each other’s iteration of the next cycle through their own errors. The perfection of the initial sine wave cluster is tainted by the acoustic instrument with its cracks and breaks; attempting to replicate and replace the electronic tones but unavoidably changing the course of the system – the tones being looped to make continuous tones, but also continuous replays of the same mistakes. The sines are altered to bring back equilibrium, attempting to match the violin imperfections, but inevitably engrain new errors of their own, and so the cycle continues until an arbitrary end
Images of BEAST FEaST 2017 performance courtesy of Jonathan Lee