New music: Kepler’s Witch Mom

I used three different MIDI keyboards and a bunch of sound effects to create this soundscape-rich taiko-drum-driven musical interpretation of the story of Katharina Kepler and how she was accused of witchcraft.

Johannes Kepler is best known for developing the Laws of Planetary Motion. I have been fascinated by his story for years, and was amazed when I read about his mother’s witchcraft trial in Kitty Ferguson’s book, Tycho & Kepler. This sort of accusation was deadly. Out of 73,000 accusations of witchcraft in Europe, about 50,000 led to executions. There was a strange intersection between medieval superstition and the birth of modern science in the early modern period.

Here is the song I made, based on this bit of history.

How I Made It

Like Newton’s Bad Apple, I used REAPER and ReaMix: Breaking the Barriers with REAPER by Geoffrey Francis. I also used the McSequencer Step Sequencer to create a variety of crazy drum beats with a set of taiko drum samples, and MIDI Ex Machina to generate a layered Euclidean rhythm for the bass synthesizer. I then crafted a soundscape to do some audio storytelling in the background, using a combination of samples I collected myself, samples from Freesound, and samples from other sources.

The Mystery of Somnium

Johannes Kepler penned a strange tale, sometime around 1609, about a magical trip to the Moon. This story, Somnium, was apparently used as evidence against Katharina during her trial. Imagine how terrible Johannes must have felt, that a piece of speculative fiction from his early days had been twisted to such a horrible end.

Read Somnium and spend some time pondering that!

Please enjoy!

My music still has a ways to go, but I hope you enjoy the song. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this learning process with you, and hopefully seeing my rough starts will encourage more people to explore arts and crafts in their mystical journeys.

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