Tones of Selenium


Selenium is an essential trace element in our bodies. Its name comes from the Greek word Selênê (Moon). It is also able to convert the sun’s energy directly into electricity and was one of the first elements used in photovoltaic panels. Selenium is used by our bodies in a number of proteins primarily helping cell health and as an anti-oxidant and for glutathione synthesis for liver health.  Thyroid function, nail health, and, a few claim that our mental and emotional capacity is enhanced with this element. In my previous post, I mentioned how Joy Gardner ( used the tones from selenium to help with a problem with her nails. Maybe in the future, I will give details of how she worked with these tones.

One of aspects of my work is looking at the tones of the elements. Each element has a unique spectral “fingerprint.” It is very simply a set of resonances that result when photons enter the element causing it to “ring.” This “ringing” has a number of wavelengths that are in the visible spectrum. Here is an example of the element Selenium.

The first is the “scale of Selenium”

This one is a short improvisation using those tones.

The electromagnetic world of light, x-rays, gamma rays, radio waves, and so on, is different than the world of sound. Sound travels through a medium like air, or water or earth while the electromagnetic energy has a different quality. Some electromagnetic vibrations are so fine that they travel straight through us and even the earth without touching a single particle. See the previous post for a picture of how “empty” our solid physical world is. Electromagnetic waves can be the same length as sound waves, yet we can’t ‘hear’ them in the same way. Strictly speaking, we can’t hear these frequencies, yet NASA has converted them into the audible medium. Listen to this 7-minute link of the “Sounds of the Planets” that NASA has put together. I especially like the sounds from the rings of Saturn. {They really do ‘ring.’}

In order to take the vibration in Hertz from a color into our audible spectrum it is necessary to go down about 40 octaves. From the palette of color, I get a palette of sound.

As this work develops, I am looking for a small group to build these sound sketches into full-length pieces. My intention is to “re-tune” our music to be in harmony with our physical world. In-between my other posts, I will continue to put out some sound sketches of the individual elements. It is fascinating to me on how internally harmonious many of these color/sound palettes are.

Image from Royal Society of Chemistry


  1. Jenny Li Hellsen on March 10, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    This is so fascinating. I love the scale of Selenium, it is very beautiful.
    My kids and I also are completely enthralled by the sounds of the planets. Absolutely magical. Thanks for posting these.

  2. Mark Stephen John on March 10, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Thanks Jenny Li. I am also fascinated by the planet sounds.

    • Jenny Li on March 10, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      Leo, WeiGuo and Leo’s friend Simon and I watched the clip and were amazed. Some of the sounds were quite eery. We all felt that Earth’s Song was the most familiar and reassuring and beautiful one. Neptune (Leo’s planet) was very interesting. We all thought IO’s was strange and almost a bit scary. Saturn’s rings are fantastic.

  3. Zara on March 19, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I also am enthralled by the planet sounds!

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