Star Seed

Our sun rings like a bell, pulsing with a dominant 11th harmonic every five minutes–hence its bell-like sonority known to solar scientists. When sound artist Daniel Warneke played the metal disc he created by mapping the northern hemisphere’s stars to its surface, a 19th century music box twinkled out a star song. Warneke’s piece, “Stella’s Starlight”, utilizes the bell-like sonorities of the aptly-named “Stella” music box from the Marr Sound Archives. Stella’s metal reeds are plucked in sync to the disc’s star field rotation, setting the high ringing overtones in motion once the music box is wound tight and the clutch released.

Warneke’s audio-automata creation, “Stella’s Starlight”, was the basis for Star Seed’s expanded mix of machine-made sound, digital processing and human performance. With Warneke’s blessing, I time-stretched the tune 11 times, transforming the transient twinkles into long, singing tones, with an instrumental score to match the star-field tones from which Thomas Aber and Patrick Conway further developed their parts. Vocalist Rhondda Francis selected ancient names of deities associated with the sounding stars for her integrated evocations.

—Dwight Frizzell


Daniel Warneke — Stella Star Map Disc

Thomas Aber — bass clarinet

Rhondda Francis — voice

Dwight Frizzell — WX5 wind-controller

Patrick Conway — percussion

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