Solstice (Biophilia, 2011)

On 2011, Bjork released a new album: a musical project she named Biophilia. The subject matter of this work is the Cosmos. It has 10 songs, each one grouped as app-songs—every piece comes with an app (or game) that deals with the theme of the song. The app-album can be used on iPods, iPhones and iPads.

Solstice—a Christmas carol written by Sjón, a poet and friend of Bjork–is inspired in musical theory and science (actually, this can be said of the whole album, but in the case of Solstice, counterpoint and Gravity are its themes):

Foucault

This famous experiment can be reproduced today, and it always yields the same result, showing that Earth is sloped at 45 degrees, rotating in its own axis, due to gravitational interactions between the celestial bodies of this Solar System:

Foucault’s pendulum was used to make the music for this song (the sounds you are hearing right now are emitted by this instrument):

Nikki Dibben, another friend of Bjork’s and a respected musical theorist, says the following about Solstice and Bjork’s artistic vision:

solstice pendulum

solstice end

The following images are taken from the app-song. They are stills from an animation. The lyrics are at the bottom of the images. Read the lyrics of the song while it is playing.

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Third

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slopes

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Activity (AP Bio)

Write a brief essay, of about 500 words minimum, in which the song Solstice is reviewed. The following questions can serve as guidelines: What is counterpoint?; What is gravity?; How would you interpret the lyrics of the song?; How knowing about gravity and musical theory will be useful for a Biology course?

The essay will be handed in on October 18th. It will have a value of 50 points.

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15 thoughts on “Solstice (Biophilia, 2011)

  1. This song clearly describes the pendulum that portrays the Earth’s movement and the fact that the sun’s radiande impacts the Earth and since the Earth is hit by radiance so are we humans. According to the song, we are light bearers and I believe that this is because the sun iluminates our days and we absorb most if not all of the vitamins and uv lights that the sun gives us. (Adriana Berrios)

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  2. I really liked the song and how Bjork transformed the idea of the pendulum, which resembles Earth’s movement, and made a musical instrument. When you analyze the lyrics, they are not easy to catch, but have a very fascinating meaning. Its lyrics suggest that we are light bearers because our bodies use the sun to vitamin D which is essential for the bones, like plant use it to have the process of photosynthesize. You have to be aware that the sun can also be damaging to the bodies when it has been exposed to too much light.

    To learn more about Vitamine D and sunlight here is a link:
    http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Summerhealth/Pages/vitamin-D-sunlight.aspx

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  3. This song explains the movement of a pendulum that represents Earth’s movement. We absorb the light that impacts the Earth as radiation and the song suggests that we are light bearers. I agree because if we did not get impacted by the light of the sun, we would not get sun burns and many people would not have skin cancer due to the exaggeration of sunlight exposure. At the same time, the sun is essential for the human body because of its vitamin D and it is crucial for the life of plants for their photosynthesis. This song really portrays the importance of the sun.

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  4. I am looking forward to doing the essay on this song it’s just a shame that not many people have herd it before and have appreciated it’s true meaning. I find it wonderful the connection we have with space especially with the sun. Our connection with the sun is so strong that we can’t live with too much of it and we definitely can’t live without it. The sun provides energy to Earth and we receive that same energy. I also liked the comparison of the pendulum being the Earth moving around the sun which it just states the Earth’s gravitational pull towards the sun.
    This handbook called “The Wonders of the Sun” was created for elementary students to have an understanding of the effects of solar radiation and the many different ways that solar energy can be used. I found it neat because it just explains all that we have been studying since we were little and how it all connects, it just shows how sun plays a mayor role in our lives. http://www.need.org/needpdf/WondersoftheSunTeacher.pdf

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  5. I really liked this song since the first time we heard it in class. It is amazing to see how an artist can mix music and science in such a creative manner. “I love being a very personal singer-songwriter, but I also like being a scientist or explorer” this where Bjork’s own words. I think thats what life should be all about, she didn’t chose one passion or the other, instead she found a way to combine both and became a world wide known artist thanks to her individuality and creativity. I really enjoy analyzing Bjork’s music, but I especially like that we are discussing this as part of the class activities. This proves to us that there are a lot of creative and artistic sides of science, way more than meets the eye.

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  6. The song is comparing Earth to a pearl in the hands of someone’s hand, the hand represents the Universe. The pearl is rotating around the hand like Earth does in the Universe. This is a neccesary messege to understant, because many times we forget that pearl represents our home, and we are the ones supposed to pilish it.

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  7. I really like the way Björk is completely into her job that she CREATED a completely new instrument, without leaving out science which is with us day to day. And she showed her love for science through art. Once again art and science find themselves. It was not an easy instrument to make but as I listen to the song and see the instrument working, I get really impressed that she made it work.

    Here is more about her journey making the instrument (which clearly has more meaning than just playing music) and her music
    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/culture/2012/03/inventing-bjorks-instrument.html

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    • It really pays off to listen and appreciate Bjork’s work. It can be a bit overwhelming at first, but then it hits you: When you listen to one of her songs, you are in the presence of an artist.

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  8. After we discussed Bjork in class I was really intrigued how a famous artist like her had the uniqueness of basing her album on cosmology. It is amazing that she used a creation from the 1800s, that is meant to measure the Earth’s rotation, as an instrument for her album! Although I find the Foucault pendulum extremely interesting I can’t help but agree the philosophical question that the Dartmouth professor said many asked: How can this pendulum know something about the entire universe? I listened to some of her other songs and I liked “Moon”. I believe in this song the pendulum instrument is used as well. I love that she is so committed to the cosmos theme that the music video was “set” in space with constellations of stars and the moon along with its phases. I enjoyed the freshness that Bjork brings by being so different.

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  9. Bjork is a really interesting artist. I absolutely love how she literally creates her instruments to create something entirely new. Normally i don’t like to think about famous people or even try to contact them in any way but she gives people the feeling that they can be friends with her. People just don’t stop amazing. In this link people sent messages to the artist about her new album and many other thing and she answered them all.
    http://www.theguardian.com/music/musicblog/2011/oct/10/bjork-answers-your-questions

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