In 2013, University of Minnesota undergrad Daniel Crawford worked with professor Scott St. George to map climate data to cello music, sonorously illustrating 1880 to 2012 climate change trends. As a next step in the project, they’ve composed a new piece of music for string quartets, defining both pace and place of the temperature changes in the Northern Hemisphere.
Above, performed by Julian Maddox, Jason Shu, Alastair Witherspoon and Nygel Witherspoon from the University of Minnesota’s School of Music, this is The sound of climate change from the Amazon to the Arctic.
Based on surface temperature analysis from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, the composition “Planetary Bands, Warming World” uses music to create a visceral encounter with more than a century’s worth of weather data collected across the northern half of the planet. (The specific dataset used as the foundation of the composition was the Combined Land-Surface Air and Sea-Surface Water Temperature Anomalies Zonal annual means.)…
As Crawford explains in the video, “Each instrument represents a specific part of the Northern Hemisphere. The cello matches the temperature of the equatorial zone. The viola tracks the mid latitudes. The two violins separately follow temperatures in the high latitudes and in the arctic.” The pitch of each note is tuned to the average annual temperature in each region, so low notes represent cold years and high notes represent warm years.
And here’s the 2013 piece: A Song for Our Warming Planet.
Read more about the project at Ensia.com, where you can also download the sheet music and an audio file.
Related reading: NASA’s Climate Kids and Climate Students at EPA.gov. Both links include lots of ideas about solutions and things we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Related watching: A few more string quartets and more videos about climate science, including The difference between weather and climate change.
This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.
Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.