Music for a String Quartet Made from Global Warming Data: Hear “Planetary Bands, Warming World”

In 2013, we fea­tured Daniel Craw­ford, an under­grad at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta, play­ing “A Song of Our Warm­ing Plan­et” on his cel­lo. The song, pro­duced in col­lab­o­ra­tion with geog­ra­phy pro­fes­sor Scott St. George, was cre­at­ed using a method called “data soni­fi­ca­tion,” which con­verts glob­al tem­per­a­ture records into a series of musi­cal notes. (More on that here.)

Now, two years lat­er, we have a brand new video by Craw­ford and St. George. This one is a com­po­si­tion for a string quar­tet called “Plan­e­tary Bands, Warm­ing World,” and it’s based on tem­per­a­ture data gath­ered over time by NASA’s God­dard Insti­tute for Space Stud­ies. As Craw­ford explains in the video, “Each instru­ment rep­re­sents a spe­cif­ic part of the North­ern Hemi­sphere. The cel­lo match­es the tem­per­a­ture of the equa­to­r­i­al zone. The vio­la tracks the mid lat­i­tudes. The two vio­lins sep­a­rate­ly fol­low tem­per­a­tures in the high lat­i­tudes and in the arc­tic.” Each note’s pitch “is tuned to the aver­age annu­al tem­per­a­ture in each region, so low notes rep­re­sent cold years and high notes rep­re­sent warm years.” As you lis­ten, keep in mind one obser­va­tion made by Prof. St. George says. “Lis­ten­ing to the vio­lin climb almost the entire range of the instru­ment is incred­i­bly effec­tive at illus­trat­ing the mag­ni­tude of change — par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Arc­tic which has warmed more than any oth­er part of the plan­et.” The time peri­od cov­ered here moves from 1880 to present.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A Song of Our Warm­ing Plan­et: Cel­list Turns 130 Years of Cli­mate Change Data into Music

Glob­al Warm­ing: A Free Course from UChica­go Explains Cli­mate Change

132 Years of Glob­al Warm­ing Visu­al­ized in 26 Dra­mat­i­cal­ly Ani­mat­ed Sec­onds

How Cli­mate Change Is Threat­en­ing Your Dai­ly Cup of Cof­fee

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