Listening to the elements

A sound installation consisting of quantities of the elements of nature on display, each with a speaker playing the sound spectrum consisting of the light spectrum of the element transposed into audible frequencies.

For example, we could use a simple transformation of light wavelength (measured in nanometers) transposed into sound frequency (measured in Hz). Then the element sodium would consist of a dual-tone sound from 588.9950 and 589.5924 nanometers (approx 589 and 589.6 nm) into (589 and 589.6 Hz). The beat frequency would be too low to hear in this case. The sound itself would be slightly sharper than a D5 in an equal-tempered scale where C4 is middle C.

Other elements would have more complex sound spectra. For example: “The prominent mercury lines are at 435.835 nm (blue), 546.074 nm (green), and a pair at 576.959 nm and 579.065 nm (yellow-orange). There are two other blue lines at 404.656 nm and 407.781 nm and a weak line at 491.604 nm.” (Source: Hyperphysics.)

We can also determine the spectra for more complex molecules and listen to them, so the hydrocarbons would be the sounds of life, for example.