With the composition “Expansion of the Universe”, Rudolf Wakolbinger has created an opus that traces
the evolution of the universe from the Big Bang to the present. The composition contains a total of
1.036 staves with more than 1.5 million notes, making it one of the most expansive works in music
history. The composition’s duration of 13.8 minutes corresponds to the 13.8 billion years time spanning
from the Big Bang until now.
The relation between mathematics and music has fascinated the composer since his studies in Vienna. In
particular, he focused on converting light frequencies (colors) into pitch levels. In “Expansion of the
Universe”, Rudolf Wakolbinger used microwave recordings collected by NASA, (America’s space
agency,) where different colors represent the electromagnetic radiation corresponding to the formation
of planets and galaxies. Rudolf Wakolbinger converts these colors into perceptible sounds and thus
creates the foundation (a formal framework) for his composition.
Electromagnetic waves (including light waves) can be converted to sound (pitch levels). For example,
the color red has a wave length of 363 Terrahertz. This would translate to the note F sharp with a small
deviation of -33.03 Cent. This is the physical foundation upon which Wakolbinger builds his
composition. He divides each octave into 1.200 partials, which allows a musically precise projection of
color shifts that took place during the formation of the universe.
The premiere of the installation conducted at the “art church” St.Andrä in Graz, Austria, was an instant
success, receiving both critical acclaim and public attention. »Expansion of the Universe» was presented
at Ars Electronica 2016 as a sound installation using 216 speakers.
Realisation: LIQUID CENTER & NETZTEIL