Sónar Celebrates 25 years, Sends Music to Space


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After 25 years scanning the planet for the most advanced sounds and ideas on earth, Sónar festival has now turned its antennas towards space, by sending music beyond the limits of our solar system in an attempt to communicate with extraterrestrial intelligence.

The “Sónar Calling” message includes 33 music pieces of 10 seconds each, commissioned exclusively from artists from diverse backgrounds and origins who encapsulate Sónar’s exploratory approach to music over its quarter century of existence.

The first batch of transmissions sent on 16.17.18 October of the current year have included music  from Autechre, Modeselektor,Laurent Garnier, Holly Herndon, Matmos, Jean-Michel Jarre, Nina Kraviz, Francisco López, The Black Madonna, Kerri Chandler,Ólafur Arnalds, Kode 9, Laurel Halo, Soichi Terada, Fatima Al Qadiri, Cabo San Roque, BFlecha and Nisennenmondai.

second batch of transmissions is planned for April 2018 when music from Richie HawtinCarsten Nicolai, Squarepusher, Kate Tempest, Daito Manabe, Juana Molina, Niño de Elche, Cora Novoa, Lorenzo Senni,  Zora Jones, Desert, LCC, Yuzo Koshiro and more will be sent.

All of them have performed at Sónar on one or more occasions and some of them will also be included in the line-up for Sónar 2018.
Look out for the first announcement in the coming weeks.

“Sónar Calling GJ273b” is also a collective celebration in which the Sónar audience can take part, participating in the open call which kicks off today. The public is invited to send an original composition, in any genre or musical style, and conceived with an unknown, extraterrestrial audience in mind. From all the pieces received, Sónar will select 3 to form part of the next transmission, programmed for April 2018. The selected creators will be invited to celebrate with Sónar in Barcelona next June together with a 4 guests (4 VIP passes).  

All information about the Open Call HERE

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Luyten’s Star is in the constellation Canis Minoris, at a distance of 12.4 light years from us. It is a cool red dwarf star, with a temperature of about 3000ºC (compared to 5500ºC of the Sun) and a mass one third that of the Sun. The star, which cannot be seen without a telescope, was named after a Dutch-American astronomer, Willem Jacob Luyten, who measured its motion across the sky.

The discovery of two exoplanets around this star was announced in early 2017. One of them, named Luyten’s Star b or GJ273b, has a mass about three times larger than Earth and is located in the habitable zone of the star, although it is probably somewhat warmer than our planet. Its year lasts about 19 of our days.

It’s not known if Luyten’s Star b does indeed have liquid water, nor if it has retained an atmosphere. But at the moment there is no reason to think that it is not habitable. If it were, it would be a world with oceans like ours with a sky lit by a star apparently larger than the sun and shining with a reddish light.

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The first transmissions were sent on the eve of Sónar’s 25thanniversary, from the EISCAT antenna in Tromsø, Norway on October 16, 17, and 18, 2017.

Sónar Calling’s message was transmitted on three successive days, providing an opportunity for possible “astronomers” from out of space observing Earth from Luyten’s Star to confirm that the signal is from another civilization.

The first message contained a mathematical and scientific tutorial created by METI (Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) that starts with basic principles and builds up, step by step, to more complex concepts. The message describes key characteristics of electromagnetic waves by “pointing” to the frequency and duration of the radio waves themselves. By making a direct link between the form of the radio signal and scientific content that is encoded, additional clues are provided to help any extraterrestrials interpret the message accurately. Unlike past radio messages that relied on pictures, METI’s tutorial is designed to be understandable by extraterrestrials in a mathematical and conceptual way.

The tutorial was sent in binary code at two frequencies near 930 MHz, using the 32-meter, fully steerable parabolic antenna of the EISCAT, which has a peak power of 1.5 MW. The tutorial was sent three continuously times on each of three days at a speed of 62.5 to 500 bits per second, followed by the musical pieces that have been sent at to 500 bits per second for a total transmission time of 2.5 hours. By repeating the message each day, possible extraterrestrial recipients will be able to correct errors that occur as the messages travel over 70 trillion miles between Earth and Luyten’s Star. 

In April 2018, during the second phase of “Sónar Calling GJ273b”,  we will send an expanded tutorial to the same star. It is expected that this follow-up transmission will turn the EISCAT antenna into a musical instrument, transmitting pulses at several different frequencies, mimicking the tones of a musical scale. By sending basic melodies at multiple radio frequencies, Sónar Calling will expand the METI tutorial to describe the physics and psychology of music perception. This second round of transmissions will end with a clock time marking the date that humanity will be listening for a reply 25 years from now.

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The IEEC (Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia) is the Catalan research institute that studies all areas of space and space sciences, including Earth as a planet, the Solar System, exoplanets, stellar physics, physics of astroparticles, and cosmology. The IEEC carries out projects for the discovery of habitable planets, supports the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI, SETI @ home and BOINC) for more than a decade, and hosts the web SETI.cat.

METI is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization based in San Francisco, which was founded in 2015. In addition to transmitting intentional signals to other star systems, METI supports the development of a global network of optical SETI observatories, and it advances basic research in astrobiology.

For more information:  www.sonartickets.com