SONG: Fast Blue Optical Transients

SONG:

“Fast Blue Optical Transients” [Download]
.

ARTIST: grant.

SOURCE: Science News 13 Dec 2021, “The cosmic ‘Cow’ may have produced a new neutron star or black hole,” as used in the post ‘Bright and really heavy: What “The Cow” caused in deep space.

ABSTRACT: I don’t know if this is an experimental song or a pop song. I mean, for me they’re all experiments, but I usually think of those as separate modes. I tried stealing the John Roderick “Cinnamon” trick again – playing a 3/4 song with a drummer doing 4/4 drums. And I kind of treated each track as its own thing. The “guitar” that’s all tinny and electric is a ukulele all mixed and remixed, and that feedback-like hum under the choruses is a 440 Hz sine wave, because that’s the frequency of the X-ray oscillations inside The Cow – I had to work it in here somehow.

The words were put together to fit the melody in a kind of click-together tinker-toy way, not through my more usual way of humming and humming until a vocal melody emerged. I’m not sure they flow properly, except the chorus… a chorus which won’t make a lick of sense to anybody not familiar with The Cow being a super-bright object that caught our attention and then faded away over a matter of days.

I wasn’t really sure what to start writing about this month – The Cow seemed like the most poetic of the science stories, but it’s not nearly as evocative as, like, cannibal butterflies eating their babies or a mummy with a golden tongue. Still, it is sort of wonderful. The jargon – fast blue optical transients – is doing some of the heavy lifting for the lyric overall. It’s a fun phrase, even if “fast” and “transient” seems a little redundant.

The music actually started out at a plodding 100 bpm, but after doing a little cutting and figuring, OK, here’s room for two stanzas, and this is how long a chorus should be, it started to seem really slow, so I sped it up to 140 bpm before recording vocals. I like the way the riffs fit together much more this way.

LYRICS:
fast blue optical transients
Lens flares flashing in the dusk
We look away because we must

fast blue optical transients
X-rays spinning like a sound
Something is solid in that cloud

CH: We call it the cow – We call it the cow

fast blue optical transients
Hours spent burning like a coal
Until the fire left a hole

fast blue optical transients
The oscillations follow
They’re periodic, almost

CH: We call it the cow – We call it the cow

fast blue optical transients
Spin a billion cycles
In a 60 day recital.

fast blue optical transients
A compact object in the dust
Smaller than eight-fifty suns.

CH: We call it the cow – We call it the cow