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Ballora Contributes to DVD Project Authored by Mickey Hart and George Smoot

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Mark Ballora

Mark Ballora, associate professor of music technology, was a contributor to the DVD project Rhythms of the Universe, which was authored by former Grateful Dead percussionist and ethnomusicologist Mickey Hart and 2006 Nobel Laureate George Smoot. It will premiere on Sunday, September 29, at 8:00 p.m. in the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. 

Rhythms of the Universe is a multi-sensory exploration of the cosmos and humanity's fascination with it. It features narration by Smoot and Hart, music, photos, and video, as well as visualizations and sonifications of astrophysical datasets.

Ballora contributed sonifications, which are datasets rendered as sound. Data values are fed to a software synthesis program that applies the values to sound characteristics such as pitch, volume, stereo position, and timbre of an instrument, so that the data curve is heard as an orchestrated melody. The goal of the project is to engage viewers with as many senses as possible, representing scientific theory through multimedia.

Sonification has become a theme in Mickey Hart's music. Ballora's sonifications that appear in Rhythms of the Universe also appear on Hart's albums Mysterium Tremendum (2012) and Superorganism (2013). 

More information can be found at the Smithsonian's website