Willem Boogman



48 minutes


Electric guitar (solo)
Percussion of glass (solo)

Bass Flute

Bass Clarinet
Percussion I
(one player)

Percussion II
(one player)

commissioned by

November Music Festival 2008 & Spectra Ensemble

dedicated to

Karlheinz Stockhausen in memoriam


(concert version)
November 14, 2008
November Music Festival
‘s-Hertogenbosch, Het Bossche Makershuis, Boschveld

Olaf Tarenskeen - electric guitar
Arnold Marinissen - percussion
Spectra Ensemble
Wouter Snoei - sound direction


›November Music 2008‹ NM 012 (2009):
Liminale from Sternenrest

buy the score



for electric guitar, percussion, ensemble, computer and wave field synthesis (2007-2008)

Sternenrest | Sternenrest (NL)


Seeds of Structure from Sternenrest - performed by Olaf Tarenskeen, electric guitar, & the Wave Field Synthesis loudspeakersystem
live recording by Bert van Dijk, January 21, 2012
Orgelpark Amsterdam
GLAS from Sternenrest - performed by Arnold Marinissen, glass percussion, & the Wave Field Synthesis loudspeakersystem
live recording by Bert van Dijk, January 21, 2012
Orgelpark Amsterdam
Liminale from Sternenrest - performed by the Spectra Ensemble, & the Wave Field Synthesis loudspeakersystem
live recording by Bert van Dijk, January 21, 2012
Orgelpark Amsterdam

photo gallery

Sternenrest on You Tube

Sternenrest – reviews

September 29, 2011, by Charles Strijd:
The Festival of Flanders made clear on Monday evening why it chose ›stars‹ as its theme for this year. In the Boekentoren (Ghent University Library Reading Room) the Spectra Ensemble gave a special concert, that was utterly ›celestial‹. With the chairs arranged in a spiral (like a revolving star), the listeners enjoyed what emerged from the 200 speakers placed around them. A marvellous event, which aroused astonishment and amazement, and conjured up a complete wall of sound.‹
›As we have said: a marvellous event, which cannot be described as either beautiful or not beautiful. That is actually not the important thing either. It is a fantastic sound experiment (-). Whoever experienced it will remember it for a long time – a unique piece of music.‹

[Sternenrest in Festival Musica Sacra Maastricht, 20/09/2014] Floris Don, NRC, 22/09/2014:
›Dan was Sternenrest van Willem Boogman prikkelender, ook dankzij de 200 speakers in carrévorm waar het publiek in de Lambertuskerk middenin zat. De rond zoemende en knetterende puls van het Wave Field Synthesis-systeem knabbelde zacht aan het brein, dat door de ongrijpbare klanken in prettige verwarring werd gebracht.‹

preface of the score

pdf click here for the Preface of the score, including an illustrated overview of the electronic music, based on the measurement data of the star HD 129929.


Sternenrest is a cycle of three compositions, that follow each other without a break. All of them can be performed independently, under different titles and/or in slightly different versions. These versions include: Genieting IV, GLAS and Liminale.

Seeds of Structure
for electric guitar, computer and Wave Field Synthesis
[ca 18 minutes]
dedicated to Olaf Tarenskeen

GLAS (based on the star HD 129929)
for glass percussion, computer and Wave Field Synthesis
[11:34 minutes]
dedicated to Conny Aerts

for ensemble, computer and Wave Field Synthesis
[18:23 minutes]
dedicated to Filip Rathé

picture of the sound movements during Part II, GLAS from Sternenrest (Wave Field Synthesis' display)

program notes

The Project
It came as a great surprise to hear that stars produce ›music‹ – at any rate this is how the asteroseismologist Conny Aerts described the existence of acoustic vibrations in stars during her lecture entitled Kosmische symfonieën [Cosmic Symphonies] (Nijmegen 2005). In doing so, she perhaps unintentionally created a connection between the inaudible sounds of the stars, that only exist in scientific measurements and models, and our (musical) imagination.

It has become apparent that sound plays an important role not only in the life of stars, but also in the formation of structures in the universe. By analyzing these sounds it is possible to obtain knowledge about the internal structure of stars and the evolution of the universe in exactly the same way that sonologists are able to lay bare a tone’s structure, which would otherwise remain concealed from us.
In Sternenrest an attempt has been made to integrate a number of scientific results from asteroseismology, cosmology and sonology into music. The varying scales of the structures here concerned are rendered audible, visible and recognizable by combining instrumental music with electronic music. The audience is surrounded by instrumentalists and 192 loudspeakers.

The composer Willem Boogman developed the project in close collaboration with the philosopher Chris Bremmers, the video maker Mateusz Herczka, and with the scientist Conny Aerts, who answered all questions about ›her‹ star HD 129929 with great dedication, providing the measurement data and the required interpretation of it.

The subtitle Stars don’t make music gives rise to the question in what sense do stars and the night sky possess an aesthetic dimension, and how can this be made accessible to us and be expressed in music and other art forms. From the very beginning Chris Bremmers embedded Sternenrest in a reflection on diverse aspects of the relationship between science and art and the relationship between science and the observation of stars in everyday life.

The various ways of discovering and observing stars and the night sky and their interrelationships make up the theme of this interdisciplinary project.

The Music
GLAS (based on the star HD 129929) occupies a central position in Sternenrest. Its music is modeled on the measurement data and results of the research into the star HD 129929, as formulated by Conny Aerts in the scientific magazine Science (2003). The measurement data includes six star frequencies and details about the star’s various rotation layers and rotation speeds. Thanks to the possibilities inherent in the Wave Field Synthesis loudspeaker system, the audience can imagine itself inside the star, from which position the sound waves and sound movements of the star can be followed. This movement deals with the star’s development from her first light until the point that she explodes (supernova). The discovery in 2006 that acoustic sound plays a decisive role in a star’s supernova phase also played a part in the music’s development.

The preceding part, Seeds of Structure, can be regarded as a musical reverie at twilight, as the stars begin to appear in the night sky. But the surface of this piece also reflects the formation of the universe and the birth of a star, in which sound plays an important role, as hypotheses and recent discoveries in cosmology and astronomy have shown.
In the development of the music I have followed the hypothesis that the distribution of matter in the cosmos is not random: stars and galaxies emerge in an essentially empty universe on the edges of vastly inflated and congealed sound waves that were already present in the primeval soup just after the Big Bang. These sound waves were imprinted as minuscule ripples in the otherwise smooth cosmic microwave background radiation. They act as the seeds of large-scale structures in the universe such as galaxies. In this part of Sternenrest small and large-scale structures form a close relationship with each other.
Finally, out of a nebulous environment a star is formed.

The last part, entitled Liminale, starts just after the ›explosion‹ of the star, in which her core is ›kicked out‹ and her remnants gradually disperse throughout the universe. The core continues to exist as a pulsar, gets a little sister, whereby a double-pulsar system is formed. The two pulsars spiral slowly towards each other, finally coalescing to form a black hole.
The music here is based on the data of the double-pulsar system PSR J0737-3039.
All these developments take place on a large scale in the electronic music, above the heads of the six musicians. The ensemble is spatially positioned and plays chords which are constantly changing in colour, thus completing a cycle which represents the alternation of day and night here on earth – but then earth as seen from space, almost transparent and vulnerable.
The composition ends with the break of day, as it were.

the instruments

The instrumental scoring changes three times in the course of the piece: from electric guitar to glass percussion to ensemble.
In the main the electric guitar is played with a small stone, making possible the production of extremely subtle tones in areas otherwise inaudible, beyond the normal range of the guitar. The percussion consists of twenty-two glass instruments including lampshades, vases, bowls, table tops etc. Having been sampled and analyzed, they form the basis for the electronic music.

The electronic music was developed at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague with the help of the lecturer/composer Johan van Kreij and the two students Billy Bultheel and Casper Schipper. They designed the software and realized the electronic sounds, which are projected by means of Wave Field Synthesis.
This system, built by the Dutch foundation The Game of Life, consists of 192 loudspeakers and eight subwoofers and was presented in 2006. The system projects sound evenly throughout the listening space, and makes possible an exact positioning, and moving around, of sounds in relation to the listener.
Wave Field Synthesis

setup (concert version)

The audience is surrounded by the Wave Field Synthesis system (WFS): 192 loudspeakers, 8 subwoofers.
The audience is seated with their backs to the lines of speakers. A maximum of 88 seats is possible, depending on the width of the chairs.
The first row of chairs is placed roughly two chairs’ width away from the speakers.
See: Sternenrest Gallery

Space needed
The loudspeaker setup occupies an area of 10m x 10m.
An area of 18m x 18m is the minimum required for the setup of the instruments. That is to say 4m extra on each side of the WFS.
The larger the hall the better, and a hall with generous acoustics is preferable to one with dry acoustics.

Wave Field Synthesis
For an unimpeded projection of the sound above the audience’s heads, the center of the loudspeakers should be adjusted to a height of 1.4m above the floor.

Sound direction
The sound director needs a small table to put his laptop on, and a music stand, both placed somewhere in the middle of the audience.

The hall should never be dark [concerts without video]: the audience (and the musicians) should always be able to orientate themselves in the hall.
The guitarist and solo percussionist are spotlighted when they play.
The musicians of the ensemble are spotlighted ad lib.
Music stand lights are necessary.

Click Track
In theory all the musicians could play along with the electronic music without a click track, the guitarist taking his cues from the entrances of the electronic ›stars‹, the glass percussionist from the pulses of ›Rf5‹ and the ensemble from ›Pulsar B‹ at first and later on from the pulses played by percussionist II.
In practice a click track for each musician can be used where it is needed.


The electronic music was realized at the Institute of Sonology in The Hague in cooperation with lecturer/composer Johan van Kreij and the students Billy Bultheel and Casper Schipper. I am very grateful to them and to Kees Tazelaar, director of the Institute.

The electronic music was especially designed to be projected by means of the Wave Field Synthesis loudspeakersystem as developed by The Game of Life. We are very grateful to the members of this foundation for the many opportunities they have offered us to work intensively with the system.