CERN scientists perform their data

LHChamber Music, CERN scientists perform musical compositions created using data sonification of LHC experimental results (Video: CERN)

As part of CERN’s 60th birthday celebrations, a group of seven physicists and engineers at CERN came together to form LHChamber Music and present a selection of musical compositions. The musical scores are based on the sonification of data obtained by four detectors – ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb – during the Large Hadron Collider run 2010-2013. The video shows each musical piece performed individually and as an ensemble by CERN’s very own researchers; the music was played in the four experimental caverns and in the CERN Control Centre (CCC) and features a harp, a guitar, two violins, a keyboard, a clarinet and a flute.

"Recording in situ presented a few challenges" says Piotr Traczyk – CMS physicist, guitar player and the film editor of LHChamber Music – "the Control Centre can be very busy and it was a challenge to limit background noise in some of the areas but this adds to the authenticity of the project and gives a real feel for the origin of the experimental data" he adds.

European Union Youth Orchestra
The European Union Youth Orchestra, directed by Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, performing at CERN’s 60th Anniversary ceremony on 29 September 2014 (Image: CERN)


Domenico Vicinanza, Arts and Humanities manager at DANTE in Cambridge UK, collaborated with CERN and created the compositions by transposing data obtained from ATLAS, CMS, ALICE and LHCb. Paola Catapano, the director of the film, came up with the original idea for the project as part of her contribution to CERN’s 60th birthday celebrations. Catapano wanted to have scientists play sonified data from their own experiments in the experimental caverns. The parts could then be weaved together to create a multi layered musical piece. "On their own, the pieces differ greatly from each other but when blended together they really work" comments Traczyk.

The resulting video is a perfect metaphor of scientific collaboration and shows how we can combine different experiments to help us understand the universe in a more complete way.

Domenico has previously worked on sonification of data projects, including the transformation of data from NASA’s Voyager dual missions as well as a more recent project for CERN’s 60th anniversary based on the sonification of the CERN Convention that established the organization 60 years ago. The European Union Youth Orchestra, directed by Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, performed this at CERN’s anniversary ceremony on 29 September.