Physics and music collide at the Montreux Jazz Festival

CERN researchers performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival in the third annual workshop of ‘The physics of music and the music of physics’


Highlights from "The physics of music and the music of physics" at the Montreux Jazz Festival (Video: Yann Krajewski/CERN)

CERN gave a cosmic performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on 9 July at its third annual workshop of ‘The physics of music and the music of physics’.

The event kicked off with ‘The physics of music’ demonstration by Robert Kieffer from the CERN Beam Instrumentation Group and Gaëtan Parsihian of the Laboratoire de Mécanique et d’Acoustique, CNRS, Marseille. They explained sound spacialisation using a cutting-edge circular speaker system, then improvised a song from sounds recorded around CERN with an electromagnetic wave sensitive microphone.

The ‘music of physics’ then followed up with a musical performance produced by converting data collected from the Large Hadron Collider into musical notes. This is a long withstanding project by Juliana Cherston from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab, Domenico Vicinanza of the GÉANT Association and Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, UK, and Ewan Hill of the University of Victoria, TRIUMF and the ATLAS experiment at CERN. The “DisCERN” project aims to complement the way mass data is presented and aims at “building bridges between two worlds that normally are quite separate, the artist’s world and the scientist’s”, explains Domenico.

Jazz pianist Al Blatter performing a duet with a sonification of LHC collision data (Image: Matilda Heron/CERN).

Jazz Pianist Al Blatter then brought the show to a close with an improvised duet with sonified near-live collisions from the LHC.

Find out more about the event here and listen to Al’s full improvisation here.