Date of Award

Winter 2-2015

Document Type

Distinction Paper

Degree Name





Jennifer Merkowitz, D.M.A.

First Committee Member

Jennifer Merkowitz, D.M.A.

Second Committee Member

Jack Jenny, D.M.A.

Third Committee Member

Sarah Bouchard, Ph.D.


Sonification, Space, Solar Wind, Music, Sound

Subject Categories

Composition | Databases and Information Systems | Music Theory | The Sun and the Solar System


Broadly, this paper discusses the application of sonification and its potential for increasing knowledge. The paper is broken up into three sections: the theory of sonification, sonification for artistic purposes, and lastly an extensive look at one process of sonification dealing with solar winds in space. Concerning the theory of sonification, the paper will divulge into the process of sonification and ask questions about the limitations of it as well. The second section discusses how sonification is a way to build the curiosity of not just scientists, but also the general public. The final section addresses my composition Empyreal Radiance and contains a detailed account of how I constructed the piece. It is through this section that I relate the ideas of space and sonification together, giving meaning to the title of this paper.

Data for this study was obtained from the DIAL Experimental Data Server, which was jointly developed by Hughes STX and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications under contract to NASA/GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center). The data is taken from the sun throughout the year 2014 from solar wind data captured from Interplanetary Magnetic Field Parameters (MAG) and Solar Wind Parameters (SWEPAM). Data included is the density of H+ Ions in the wind and the velocity of wind speed particles.

Potential results include an understanding of the field of sonification and how it can help modern sciences. Additionally, the data used demonstrates how sonification can be used when studying the field of astrophysics. Lastly, the composition stands as a completed work of music that can be presented as a blending of both scientific data and musical elements, taking data from solar wind and mixing it with a minimalistic compositional style of music. The composition was premiered at my Composition Senior Recital on March 15th, 2015.