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Violin meets subatomic particles in Cloud Chamber duet

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The worlds of string playing and particle physics are set to come together in an unusual performance at Plymouth University in the UK on 11 February. Alexis Kirke’s new work, Cloud Chamber, combines a semi-improvisational score for solo violin with the synthesized sounds of subatomic particles.

The performance will use a cloud chamber, an apparatus that scientists use to make particle trails visible. The moving particles are tracked by a camera and then turned into sounds using a specially designed synthesizer. The sound of violinist John Matthias’s instrument will feed into an electromagnetic field system placed around the chamber. This will influence the movement of the particles, and therefore the sounds produced by the synthesizer, with the aim of producing a dynamic interplay between the violin and the particles.