Sonikmatter: A Fast Ticket to Mars 🚀🚀🚀

Volume 5: February 14, 2021

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day that is synonymous with love, but actually a crass money grab to sell crotchless cat pajamas embroidered with the words “BRING ME SOME LOVE RIGHT MEOW,” and “I’D EAT YOU FIRST IF I COULD”. To all the single cat ladies, hiss off. Not today, Satan, love has no place in this world. No, this issue is dedicated to the god of war, Mars. And live on approach, we have our intrepid correspondent reporting in today.  

Ground control to Space Commander Zampino. Can you hear me, Cmd’r Zamp?  

We have a front-row seat with our mascot, Zampino hitching a ride. Which rocket did he abscond? No one knows. Is his passport even valid anymore? Is he there to establish a colony for Elon Musk? We wish we had the answers. However, his internet access has never been better, and as such, here are the out of this world updates.

In four short days, NASA’s Perseverance lander will touchdown, bringing an array of microphones to capture the sounds and we hope to hear our first interplanetary samples.

With any hope, whatever craft Cmd’r Zamp is flying on, he will pull out the Keytar and send his own tunes back for the first known extraterrestrial jam. What is it? I’m being told by my editor this is not in fact true. in 2013, Commander Chris Hadfield of the Canadian Space Agency recorded his version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity upon the International Space Station.

The behind-the-scenes of this video, the most expensive video ever produced, is just as intriguing (link). If you have access to Masterclass, Hadfield’s course on Space Exploration is amazing.

MakeMusic Strega

For out of this world music with an alien interface, the Strega is a perfect solution for a problem you never knew existed. Designed in collaboration with former Nine Inch Nail member Alessandro Cortiniit is a modular synth to be combined with other instruments. With the ability to make both weird abrasive sounds and gorgeous tones, this seems to be the instrument on every spaceboy’s wishlist.

  • Patchable with seven sources and 13 destinations

  • Touch Bridges and Gateways for momentary modulation routings

  • Compatible w/ Eurorack Modular Synthesizer Signals

  • Input for combining with or processing outside sounds

  • Includes patch cables, output cable, and AC Adapter 

  • Headphone and Line Level Amplifier as well as Eurorack Output

  • Small Rugged Steel Enclosure


Listen to the sounds on Hélène Vogelsinger’s Instagram page to hear this beauty in action.

A post shared by Hélène Vogelsinger (@helenevogelsinger)

Moving towards more alien worlds, we find an exosystem that has near-perfect resonant rhythmic movement.  

Solar System TOI-178

Using a combination of telescopes, including the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO’s VLT), astronomers have revealed a system consisting of six exoplanets, five of which are locked in a rare rhythm around their central star. The researchers believe the system could provide important clues about how planets, including those in the Solar System, form and evolve.


🧠 Sound Design: Sound Synthesis by Means of Two-Variable Functions

One of my favorite things to do is to research white papers on various scientific studies. And occasionally, reading through back issues of the Computer Music Journal. In 1983, Aldo Borgonovo and Goffredo Haus released an article on a new type of synthesis based on two objects orbiting one another and released both the mathematical functionality of their methodology as well as Pascal code that could recreate the sounds they had envisioned.

If you want to recreate the intergalactic sounds of planets rotating around one another, they leave the blueprint for you right here. As a note, you may need access to your local library or university to pass through the paywall of JSTOR as Aaron Swartz isn’t here to bypass it for you.


Did I mention we aren’t doing Valentine’s Day???

In Memorandum

This week we lost two greats in the music world, the Supremes’ Mary Wilson and Jazz’s Chick Corea.

Wilson died at the age of 76 on Monday and was the leader of the Supremes, keeping it going after Diana Ross left to go solo.


Corea died at the age of 79 having cut his teeth with greats like Miles Davis and amassing 90+ albums as bandleader and a record-breaking 23 Grammy wins.

Cheap But Good Advice for Playing Music in a Group — Chick Corea

  1. Play only what you hear.

  2. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.

  3. Don’t let your fingers and limbs just wander—place these intentionally.

  4. Don’t improvise on endlessly—play something with intention, develop it or not, but then end off, take a break.

  5. Leave space—create space—intentionally create places where you don’t play.

  6. Make your sound blend. Listen to your sound and adjust it to the rest of the band and the room.

  7. If you play more than one instrument at a time—like a drum kit or multiple keyboards—make sure that they are balanced with one another.

  8. Don’t make any of your music mechanically or just through patterns of habit. Create each sound, phrase, and piece with choice—deliberately.

  9. Guide your choice of what to play by what you like—not by what someone else will think.

  10. Use contrast and balance the elements: high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft, tense/relaxed, dense/sparse.

  11. Play to make the other musicians sound good. Play things that will make the overall music sound good.

  12. Play with a relaxed body. Always release whatever tension you create.

  13. Create space—begin, develop, and end phrases with intention.

  14. Never beat or pound your instrument—play it easily and gracefully.

  15. Create space—then place something in it.

  16. Use mimicry sparsely—mostly create phrases that contrast with and develop the phrases of the other players.

Sounds for Download: Samples for Arturia Emulator II V

Reader Sean Flannery sends this link.


While we at Sonikmatter have not tested these, Mr. Flannery assures us these are amazing!

Gear Review: Pluto

Moving away from the Red Planet towards the other end of the solar system, the Pluto is a portable, battery-powered modular synth with a focus on Euclidian Rhythms.


Sonikmatter: Mind + Music + Technology

Barely Edited, Never Fact-Checked, Always Opinionated. Please visit the links below and comment and introduce yourselves to one another in our forums while we formalize our next evolution in the Sonikdom. If you have any news, rumors, innuendos, or slander…please share with us in our forums.

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As a final note, this newsletter was supposed to be out a few days ago and a little more polished, and I apologize that I could not put as much work into this as I would have liked. The days are getting longer in the northern hemisphere, the groundhog has told us that there will be only a couple more weeks of winter, and with any hope, my mental health will have evened out by then! Maybe Zampino will have returned from his trip to Mars by then as space agencies don’t take kindly to stowaways.

I have several articles in the can being edited that will be Website-Only, a few longer interviews with friends-slash-amazing musicians, and I am still learning to solder as I have not done it in 20+ years!

And while this isn’t a damn valentine, I love you all and appreciate your support! Thank you and I promise the next issue will be my normal snark and darkness! — cm