The mysterious music of the 'phantom islands'

phantom islands

Map of region below Tropic of Capricorn, showing several phantom islands. CC0


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During the 15th and 16th centuries, Europeans engaged in what is often referred to as the "Age of Exploration." The period when Europeans conquered, colonized, and enslaved Indigenous populations all over the world. All in the name of building wealth. Some expeditions were funded by kings and queens, but many ship captains’ funding came from those further down the food chain. And some were so eager to please their patrons — or just really bad navigators — that they put islands on maps that didn’t exist. In some cases, those "phantom islands" stayed on official maps for hundreds of years, even until recently.

Uzbekistani electronic musician Andrew Pekler is fascinated by them. So, he built an digital map of them, and added a soundtrack. The project is called, "Phantom Islands – A Sonic Atlas." Charles Monroe-Kane was intrigued by the music, and the audacity of ship captains who created islands that didn’t exist.