Measurements were taken every four seconds throughout the Martian days and nights for the length of the mission. When the data arrived back on Earth, it came through as many pages of numbers in six columns, each column reflecting the measurement taken from one of the six wires. The numerical data was then formatted into ASCI files at JPL. Schofield took the files for Sol 25 or Day 25 of Pathfinder's mission, which consisted of 22,000 measurements, and sent it on to Miller in Minneapolis.
On its arrival, producer Paul Bergly justified the data and formatted the ASCI file, basically preparing it for accurate translation. The numerical data was taken to Golden Rule Studio and run through a Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI) sequencer which triggered or translated the digital wind sample in the computer and sounds began to emerge. Meanwhile, Miller approached renowned pianist Roderick Kettlewell, head of the Bach Society of Minnesota.
"It was such a funky idea, but the more I thought about it, the more Bach seemed absolutely appropriate for such an interplanetary concept," Kettlewell says. "Bach's works offer a balance between intellectual rigor and just the sheer beauty of melody and harmony, informed by a sort of vigorous rhythmic sense, so everything comes together in a beautiful form, a parallel with the beauty of form you see in the Universe. Beyond that, there's something about Bach's music, an ethereal, almost spiritual element, that takes us beyond ourselves and beyond our Earthbound consciousness, a purity of form that allows us to send our minds across time and space."
In the midst of the barrenness, the pictures of Mars reveal a desolate but calming beauty, so Kettlewell selected compositions that he felt projected that. "And, as I performed, I sought to capture in the music this ethereal stillness of Mars, the kind of calmness," he says, "reflective of the isolation you might feel if you were off on your own exploring this distant planet."
Once Kettlewell's tracks were completed, the winds were then dubbed in, and the music and sounds were mixed for the final product, which you now hold in your hands.
So, is this exactly what you would hear on Mars if, say, you were standing right next to Pathfinder? No one really knows for sure. First of all if you were standing next to Pathfinder, you would be wearing a helmet and space suit because Earthlings cannot breathe the Martian air, and you probably wouldn't hear much of anything except for your fellow astronaut's voice coming through your headset. The winds you hear are interpreted, and in some cases enhanced. Since Pathfinder was situated in one location, we did assume a bit of poetic license in order to present all the varying wind conditions known to exist on Mars. However, every effort was made in processing to reproduce sampling as authentically as possible.
On July 4, 1997, at exactly 9:56:55 AM Pacific Standard Time, the Mars Pathfinder and Mars Global Surveyor landed safely on Mars. The mission of the small aluminum vehicle, equipped with cameras and numerous sensors, was to gather data in order for humankind to better understand the great red planet, our cosmic neighbor, the fourth rock from the sun.
Within the first month of its 86-day mission, the Mars Pathfinder (named the Carl Sagan Memorial Station, in honor of the late American scientist Carl Sagan) returned 1.2 gigabits of data to Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The quality of the data received was as impressive as the quantity. It included 10,053 sharp color and black and white images, and 4,000,000 temperature, pressure and wind measurements. Five thousand years ago, the Egyptians accurately described the red planet as the one "who travels backward," referring to the planet's retrograde motion. Now, scientists, along with anyone with access to the Internet, could simultaneously view extremely sharp, color images of their extraterrestrial neighbor. The 48,682,000 miles that separate Earth from Mars have been reduced to the bandwidth of an invisible stream of digital data.
Three hundred thirteen years prior to this technological block party, Johann Sebastian Bach was born in Eisenach, Germany. During the 65 years of his life, Bach composed more than a thousand musical offerings for a variety of situations, some secular, but most for religious settings. The genius of Bach was his ability to write music with the organized precision of a scientist, yet capture the spirit of a simple and timeless melody.
Since the early cave drawings of prehistoric man, humans have always used art as a means to express, chronicle and give meaning to our experiences. After all, isn't art simply that which we cannot put into words? Art invites us to experience the ordinary in new a way, and music is perhaps the most emotional of all the arts. Now, for the first time ever, we can explore another planet with our ears. Winds of Mars is a duet comprised of a single piano on Earth, and wind data from Mars brought to life through the marvel of computers.
You should know that in order to obtain the winds of Mars, it wasn't as simple as downloading an audio file. The Mars Pathfinder did not contain a means of capturing audio data. There was no microphone on Mars Pathfinder. However, the instruments onboard Pathfinder included 12 precise meteorological instruments. During its mission, Pathfinder transmitted back to Earth 4,000,000 temperature, wind and barometric pressure measurements.
One such file was compiled during a contiguous 24-hour period, with readings taken every four seconds from each of the 12 sensors. The resulting file was 22,194 lines of data 13 columns wide. When printed on 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper, the 1,886,490 characters of the data file filled 494 pages.
We assimilated that Mars wind data, and combined it with what we know about the physical properties of wind on Earth. Factored in were different varieties of terrain, temperature, barometric pressure and gravitational pull (for instance, grains of sand blowing across terrain at 10 miles per hour on Earth do not behave the same as those moving 10 miles an hour on Mars). Fortunately, the laws of physics are the same on Mars as on Earth. Put this all into a computer, mix it with the music of Bach, and the result is Winds of Mars. Our ultimate goal: One day, when a microphone arrives on Mars and when the project scientists turn up the volume, this is what they'll hear.
If you are not familiar with the piano works of Bach included on Winds of Mars, don't feel apprehensive. In fact, we hope you'll approach these musical gems with a spirit of adventure and anticipation. You're in for a treat. This music has endured the test of time. These works have been riding the charts, so to speak, for over 300 years. Why? Because they're accessible, unique, and just plain catchy.
Perhaps you already own recordings of some of these pieces. We doubt you have them all because we deliberately selected some diamonds in the rough. If you do possess recordings of every selection on Winds of Mars, then we tip our hat to you in recognition of your impeccable musical taste!
During the genesis of Winds of Mars, the production team gathered in the fourth floor recital hall in the well-known Schmitt Music Center building in downtown Minneapolis, a city known for its active arts community. Roderick Kettlewell, a Juilliard School-trained pianist who was serving as the artistic director for the Bach Society of Minnesota, had eagerly accepted our invitation to perform for this disc. When Mr. Kettlewell first played several of these Bach pieces for us, he stated, in his distinctive English accent, "This is the way you're probably accustomed to hearing Bach."
Kettlewell played a number of selections by the Baroque master. As we listened to, and most certainly enjoyed, the performance, the music evoked a wide range of thoughts, from memories of piano recitals in our youth to the richness of musical character from the simpler era of Bach. Toes tapped. We smiled and nodded to one another. Yes, indeed, this music was good.
"Now here's the way I think Bach should be performed."
Outwardly, his fingers became more fluid. They appeared to lift the melodies from the keyboard. The music became more expressive. The melodies soared through the room in harmonious waves. Kettlewell's interpretations weren't flashy or showy, nor did he taint the melodies with superfluous musical gimmicks. It was simply more musical. His training at the Juilliard School certainly didn't hurt. With nearly 1,000,000 units sold of his previous classical music releases, Mr. Kettlewell ranks among the best-selling classical artists of all time. Plus, he's the nicest guy you could ever meet.
There are a number of outstanding recordings featuring the piano music of Bach. This is the only one combined with the winds of Mars. In order to match the world-class standards of our performer, state-of-the-art, 24-bit digital technology was utilized. To keep it from sounding too stark and harsh, a Bšsendorfer 9-foot concert grand piano, (hand-crafted and known for its rich, warm tone, with two extra keys at the lower register) was the instrument of choice. Two of the very best microphones (Neumann M149 Tube) were used to further preserve the sonic purity.
The recording was also unique, situated in the parlor of a house built in 1892 (across the street and a few houses down from the State of Minnesota governor's residence on historic Summit Avenue in Saint Paul; also, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald once lived just down the street). The audio ambience of the studio was bright. The hardwood floor, marble fireplace, winding staircase and ornate oak trim combined to create a natural sound not easily found in the sterile confines of modern recording studios. It also served as classical inspiration.
For this recording, the "sound" of the wind was equally as critical as the piano. We recruited Steven C. Anderson, a recording artist for American Gramophone (Chasing Grace), whose experience includes work as executive producer, composer and performer on more than 150 albums. It was Anderson who suggested we utilize the engineering wizardry of John Chase, a seasoned audio engineer with thousands of productions to his credit, including hundreds involving nature sounds and classical and new age music.
In short, we believe you will enjoy Winds of Mars because it will transport you to Mars, surround you with the calming winds of that mysterious red planet, and expose you to some of the finest music for piano ever written. We've done our very best to bring you a worthy production of the world's first, all-digital, extraterrestrial musical recording.