Planet (Terra) is composed at New York University in 1987, and that animation was done in 1995. All the sound material is either synthetic or processed to the degree that source identity is completely obscured. This kind of play with source bonding has been integral to electroacoustic music since it became established as an art form following WWII – to create timbres and music that could not be realized with traditional musical instruments or other vibrating physical objects.


Planet (Terra) is a short musical study which was made on a Fairlight CMI, and this machine’s capabilities for both synthesis and manipulation of recorded sound were employed. The recorded sound is taken from a drop of water and a spoon stirring in a teacup. The recorded sounds were not important in themselves; the idea for this short piece was to completely subordinate the original sounds to the program content of the piece. The synthesized sounds are simple in construction, and created with additive synthesis.

Planet (Terra) is a form of meta-composition, where the sounds no longer can be bonded with the original signals, but where the in traditional sense «incomprehensible» material is used to create a new order which refer to familiar sound icons.


The human mind and hearing functions work extensively through pattern recognition, and to aid this process Planet (Terra) has been animated into a concert video in a manner similar to my other works When Timbre Comes Apart and Concrete Net. These three computer music animations represent different approaches to visualizing music.

The sound data from the entire work were analyzed though an FFT and mapped onto a sphere as «altitudes.» The coloring of the spectrum was an aesthetic decision made with the intention of simulating the colors frequently found on geographical maps. A second sphere was placed around the first one, and this sphere «shrinks» as the piece is being played. Thus, the louder sounding partials come into view before the softer sounding ones, and the spectrum is fully displayed approximately halfway into the piece.

The path of the camera was executed by hand, with certain musical points in time emphasized «en route». The animation was realized by Henrik Sundt on a Silicon Graphics computer, using Inventor and C++.

In the concert video, the viewer experiences 6 orbits around the sphere, and the piece concludes with the camera diving into the sphere’s realm of blue.

Here’s a movie.

All pictures © Jøran Rudi

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