TODAY'S PAPER
Good Evening
Good Evening
NewsNew York

Hayden Planetarium performance: A collision of sound and space

Grateful Dead drummer and self-described “noiseologist” Mickey Hart will provide the otherworldly soundscape for a recreation of the Big Bang this weekend at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium.

Hart, who has long explored the intersection of music, rhythms and their place in the wider universe, is collaborating on the two-night performance of “Musica Universalis” with Carter Emmart, the museum’s director of astrovisualization.

Accompanying Emmart as he recreates the universe’s beginnings, Hart will strum a guitar-like instrument invented by a fellow devotee of sound and space from the early medieval era — Greek philosopher, mathematician and overall deep thinker, Pythagoras.

The resulting collision of his string vibrations with Emmart’s virtual reality depiction of gas, dust and explosions scientists theorize created the cosmos will give visitors a unique window into how everything began, Hart said.

“Musica Universalis is a journey into the beginning of time and space . . . it tells the story of our existence,’’ said Hart, 74.

Emmart said the performance will “recreate the layout of the universe using data that is a real measurement [of] the way we would actually see the creation of the universe . . . It’s like being inside a diorama of space.”

Emmart, who studied geophysics — the study of the Earth’s physical properties — said he eventually shifted his interests to art as a way to better explain the dense, complicated origin story of the universe to a mainstream audience.

“I wanted to make the mathematic theories more tangible,” he said. “Everything is in motion. The magnetic fields, the Milky Way, the gases, dust, stars — life in real time as it evolves.”

While Emmart projects a 3-D version of the Big Bang on the planetarium’s half-dome ceiling, Hart will strum his Pythagorean Monochord, which he calls, “The Beam.”

At the same time he’ll use software to translate a NASA satellite’s telescopic images of the galaxy and cosmic radiation into rhythmic vibrations — a sort of sonic symphony.

The recorded vocals of legendary opera soprano Rene Fleming bring an inspirational component to the performance, Hart said.

“She sounds like a thousand angels deep into space,” he said. “That vibrated sound . . . that’s my religion.”

The show lasts about 30 minutes, begins at 7 p.m., on Friday and Saturday and includes a visit to the museum’s “Senses” exhibit.

More news