Visit for a detailed overview, webography, and bibliography of the "Music of the Spheres."

Kepler's Music of the Spheres, a joint composition by Paul Viotti and Ralph Abraham

Sound Files

Where are You? What are you hearing?

Imagine that you are sitting on the sun. Planets do not orbit you circularly; they do so elliptically. Moreover, as planets approach you, their velocities increase. These observations made by Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) are pivotal to our present-day understanding of the solar system. Kepler dreamed that the planets' movements were of a divine order and that they collectively formed the music of the spheres. He wrote, "the movements of the heavens are nothing except a certain everlasting polyphony." As you listen from the sun, focus on the warbling pitch of the planets--the higher the pitch is, the faster the planet is moving.

Before experiencing the "Music of the Spheres," listen to the range of each planet's angular velocity. You will hear the highest and lowest pitch of each of the six planets known to Kepler, beginning with Mercury.

All Six Planets' Voices (Presented by Abraham and Viotti at the SFAI in April of 2003):

The soundtracks for the April 2003 performances in San Francisco were created from modern astronomical data using C-sound programs. In the piece, there are four tracks for quadraphonic surround sound. Pitch ranges and pitch cycle timing of the planets are synchronized to a single cycle of saturn, scaled to about two minutes. This is a stereo MP3 file, a spatially condensed representation of the quadraphonic version.

Individual Planets Heard Separately:

What is the sound of a single planet revolving around the sun? (10 seconds each; stereo MP3s)

Rev'd 11 aug 2003