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Spacefest IV - Pasadena, CA, May 8-11, 2014
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Music Space
Listening to the cosmos ...

 




MusicSpace celebrates music that is written for space exploration. Or is about space exploration. Or is played in space. Or makes you feel like you are in space. Or is actually from space.

So the space hit list ranges from Elton John's Rocket Man to Holst's Planets to Bach played with the accompaniment of the winds of Mars.

See the Aviation and Space Music - US Centennial of Flight - 2003 for a nice review of space music history.


The phrase Space Music often implies New Age music. This may originate from the Hearts of Space radio program that began playing meditative music on Berkeley radio in the 1970's and is now syndicated around the country. While their definition of space is metaphorical, our New Age category focuses on works that show at least some direct real space inspiration!

Space hobbyists can become involved with space music by:
      • Collecting space music albums, 45's, CD's, etc.
      • Playing space music songs.
      • Creating space music of their own.

This video program discusses the many connections between music and space: The sounds of space - ESA Euronews - Feb.16.12 -

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Music in Orbit album cover
Music in Orbit
Ron Goodwin and orchestra
1958 - Capitol Records.
Find out more about Space Age Pop.

MusicSpace is divided here into several sections because of the diverse range of genres, periods and styles:


Latest Space Music News
at
Space-for-All

For previous postings, see Space Music at Space-for-All and the archive for older articles...


Space Music News Sites / Discussion Forums


Yuri's Night 2011

Space Radio over the Internet

SpaceRadio.FM
SpaceRadio.FM at MP3.com

Astronomy Rock Radio
Astronomy Rock Radio - MP3.com * Live365.com Streamed

Third Rock - America's Space Station
Third Rock Radio comes from a collaboration of NASA
and RFC Media. Offers a "New Rock/Indie/Alternative format"
interspersed with NASA/space and tech related info.

Radio Free Mars
A big selection of Space Music

Aural Innovations SpaceRock Radio

Web radio at Filk.com
Filk.com Web Radio

Math & Science in Music -Brent Hugh - MP3.com


Musical Starstreams

Hearts of Space Radio

SpaceMusic at Live365

Echoes webcasts

BlueMars.org

Astreaux World .^. Space music....

Beats in Space

KNEW Space Rock Cafe - MP3.com

SpaceMusic.nl
"ambient & electronic music from all over the world"

SOMA FM
Space Station Soma: Tune in, turn on, space out.
Spaced-out ambient and mid-tempo electronica.
SomaFM Mission Control - enjoy the audio from historical
NASA missions, or live audio during a Shuttle mission,
mixed in with ambient and experimental music.

Space Age Pop Music
at Basic Hip Digital Oddio
Check out the weird and wonderful sounds of space age pop
from the 50s-60s.


Music IN Space
Thomas Reiter with guitar on Mir
Thomas Reiter on left and Sergei Vasiliyevich on right playing guitar during EuroMir-95 mission.
(Photo courtesy of European Space Agency)

Below are given other cases where music was played or heard in space.

Chris Hadfiled and a Guitar on the ISS
A Larrivée Parlor acoustic guitar was taken to the International Space Station in 2001 on a Space Shuttle flight. It has been played since then by a number of crewmembers. In the video below, Canadian astronaut and space station commander Chris Hadfield talks about the history of the guitar on the ISS, his plans to play and record some original music with it when he gets to the station, and how playing in micro-gravity differs from playing in standard gravity

More about the song that Hadfield wrote with with Ed Robertson of the Barenaked Ladies that he will record on the ISS:

December 26, 2012 Here is the recording made by Hadfield on the ISS:

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And here is a joint performance Hadfield did with Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies of the song I.S.S. (Is Somebody Singing), which they wrote togehter: Astronaut And Rocker Pen First Earth-Space Duet : The Two-Way - NPR - Feb.8.13 -

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Bandella
Hadfield has also performed with astronauts Micki Pettit (lead vocals, wife of Don Petit), Cady Coleman (flute, see below about her own peformances in space), and others. Steven Jurventson recorded the following peformances at a conference in 2013:

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Ed Lu Space Station Crew Expedition 7 Science Officer
Ed Lu took a portable electronic piano with him to the station.

 

Ron McNair / STS-41B
Astronaut Ron McNair is believed to be the first person to take a musical instrument into space and play it (not counting the simple harmonica and bells on Gemini 6 discussed below). He brought along his saxophone on shuttle flight STS-41B in Feb. 1984 and made a tape recording of his playing while there. Unfortunately, the tape was later accidentally recorded over.

McNair died in the Challenger explosion. During the flight he had planned to play a work composed for him by Jean-Michel Jarre. It would have been the first musical piece whose debut occurred in space. The piece later appeared on Jarre's album Rendezvous with the sax played by Pierre Gossez. (Track 6 - Last Rendez-Vous). Here is a video with the music that McNair would have performed: Jean Michel Jarre - Last Rendez-Vous (Ron's Piece) - "Challenger" - YouTube -

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The Saxophone in Space (C) 1986 - The link for this essay by Kurt Heisig has died but he is a saxaphone teacher who wrote about working with Ron McNair to obtain a sax to play in space and about the techniques that McNair would use to play it in space. See also Ronald E. McNair: Astro-Black Eagle On The Horn - Oh Word.com - Nov.19.07

 

Aleksandr Laveikin / Mir
In Feb. 1987 cosmonaut Aleksandr Laveikin brought his acoustic guitar with him to the Mir space station. While there he taught Yuri Romanenko how to play and left it with him.

The guitar remained on Mir and later cosmonauts Gennady Strekalov and Talgat Musabayev played it.

Musabayev played it once on a live downlink to a song contest, which gave him a special prize.

More astronaut musicians in space:

Music on Planets and Moons
Here are some projects and reports dealing with music on other worlds.

Wakeup calls
It has been a NASA tradition for the ground controllers to wake up the astronauts with a different musical selection each day. The controllers try to choose music that is appropriate for the particular mission or crew.

Wake up call on Shuttle Discovery's last flight included this
special version of Alexander Courage's Star Trek theme with an
updated intro from William Shatner:
Space Shuttle Discovery's Astronaut Wakeup Songs - Space.com - Mar.7.11

According to Colin Fries, the song Blast-Off Columbia was written by Jerry Rucker who worked as a technician on the shuttle's external tank. The song, as performed by - Roy McCall & Southern Gold, was transmitted as a wakeup call to astronauts John Young and Robert Crippen on the very first flight of Columbia.

The NASA Spaceflight website now provides audio files for the wake up calls for several shuttle missions. For example, see the Audio Wakeup Call Index for mission STS-108.

To find the wake up calls for a particular shuttle missions, select "Gallery" and "Space Shuttle". Then choose from the "Audio" lists.

Colin has also compiled a complete list of all Wakeup calls since the beginning of the space program. See the site at

More about the wakeup songs:

Yuri Romanenko - Writing Music in Space
Barnaby Oliver of the band Venus Ray is producing an album based on music written in space by cosmonaut Yuri Romanenko.

During a 326 day stay on Mir from Feb.5.1987 to Dec.29.1988, Romanenko wrote 20 songs. They were "optimistic songs, written by a man who feels good." according to this article: Cosmonaut sees no limit to space visit length - Houston Chronicle - Jan.21.88.

Barnaby says he is trying to get Romanenko, who lives in Star City near Moscow, to come to London to record the songs but they haven't yet managed to arrange his trip.

Nevertheless, the album is in production with background vocals being recorded by members of Venus Ray. If Romanenko doesn't provide the lead they will either use another singer or do the songs in instrumental form. Barnaby says, "I'm still very excited about the project, and intend to produce a genuinely good record, not just a gimmick. I also have (less advanced) plans for a stage show based on the songs."

Barnaby says the album "will come out on Negative Records in the UK, but we will be seeking licensing deals for other countries."

Gemini 6 Harmonica & Bells
Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford played "Jingle Bells" with a harmonica and bells during a broadcast to Earth near Christmas time 1965, on the Gemini 6 mission.

Voyager Golden Record
The two Voyager probes were launched in 1977 on a trip to all the outer planets except Pluto. The probes, which are still in contact with earth, have now traveled past Pluto's orbit and will travel through interstellar space forever.

Carl Sagan organized an effort to attached a combination time-capsule and message-in-a-bottle for any extraterrestrial civilization that might come across the probes or for a future human starship that caught up with it.

A 12 inch gold plated record along with a stylus and instructions for playing it were included. The digital data on the record contains images, greetings in 55 languages, sounds, and music that represent the best of earth and humanity.

The Golden Record page at JPL gives details about the Golden Record along with clips of the sounds and the music.

Voyager Golden Record | Planet Earth website offers all of the audio clips and images that were placed on the disks.

Note that the Murmers of Earth book and CD-ROM replica were released in 1992 but are now out of publication. However, you might find it in at a used book store or at online space auctions.

More Music in Space

NASA astronaut Dan Burbank plays guitar on ISS
"NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, Expedition 30 commander, plays a guitar
in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station. (Credits NASA)


Music FOR Space Exploration

The entries here involve musicians or particular musical works that express a special passion in support of human space activity. The music is really about space exploration rather than using it only as metaphor.


To Touch the Stars- Prometheus Music
This album from Prometheus Music is dedicated to space exploration:

"Unlike most modern activist movements, the space movement lacks a collection of music to carry forth the movement’s history, and its collective aspirations for the future of humanity. While the out-of-print Minus Ten and Counting album filled this niche for thousands of listeners in the 1980s, over a decade has passed since a compelling album of pro-space songs has been available. Thus, we are assembling this collection of songs, grounded in the critically important message that our generation can — and should — live and work beyond the confines of Earth." - Ad Astra web site

This project began with a space song contest held by the National Space Society back in late 1997 under Robert Zubrin's encouragement. Later when he got the Mars Society to hold a Mars song contest as well. The CD includes winning songs from these contests as well as other original music and filk classics.

More about this album can can be found in the Space Filk Section. including the track listing and links to on line audio files.

Elaine Walker (formerly of ZIA)
ZIA played it's last show in the summer of 2003 and the collaboration is indefinitely suspended. ZIA founder Elaine Walker continues with her space inspired musical projects.

ZIA Martians
"This video was filmed on Devon Island in the
High Arctic (75 degrees North), Nunavut, Canada,
for the NASA Haughton-Mars Project!"

She still performs at space conventions such as the annual International Space Development Conferences. She donates a portion of the proceeds from her solo albums "Frontier Creature" and "MARS" to various pro-space causes. Elaine Walker
Elaine Walker
Mythodea: Music for the NASA Mission: 2001 Mars Odyssey
This is Vangelis's contribution in support of the new Mars mission. See the entry for Vangelis in the electronic space music section. Vangelis: Mythodea - Interview at the Mars Odyssey Website

John Denver Flying for Me
John Denver was a strong supporter of space exploration and even attempted to arrange a ride into space aboard the shuttle and on Mir.

In the article Can Lance Bass Sing His Way Into Space by James Oberg - SpaceDaily - Aug.28.02, Oberg reviews attempts previous to Lance Bass to send civilians to Mir or the ISS using secondary funding sources.

He discusses Denver's proposal to the Soviet space agency to give, in exchange for a flight, "the Soviets full commercial rights to an album he planned to record, some of it in space and some of it on Earth with music he composed from the inspiration of his experiences."

However, the Soviets demanded full payment for the flight up front. (Some Russian officials later mis-characterized Denver's offer as "trying to pay for the flight with a song".)

More about his space interests at john denver:memories.

Denver apparently was also in line for NASA's Citizen in Space program until it was canceled after the Challenger disaster.

According to a message from Joe Ellis, Denver wrote the song "Flying For Me" about the Challenger disaster. "Only time I've ever seen/heard it was a performance with the Boston Pops, on PBS." [Thanks also to Eli Goldberg for passing along this info.]

On One World - 1986

It starts with

  "Well, I guess that you probably know by now
   I was one who wanted to fly
   I wanted to ride on that arrow of fire right up into heaven
   And I wanted to go for every man Every child,
   every mother of children.
   I wanted to carry the dreams of all people right up to the stars."

The refrain goes as:

  "They were flying for me
  They were flying for every one
  They were trying to see a brighter day for each and every one
  They gave us their light
  They gave us their spirit and all they could be
  They were flying for me"

I've not found any other songs he wrote specifically about space but his Eagle and the Hawk expresses his deep feelings for the freedom of flight.

Max Q
Max Q is a band whose members are all astronauts. Though the membership has changed over the years, they have been performing since 1987. They perform at various NASA and community events. They primarily do classic rock songs rather than space themed music.

"Max Q’s First Gig On a Saturday evening in June 1987, the all-astronaut rock
band Max Q gave its first performance ever, at Walter Hall Park in League City,
Texas. This home video from the concert shows the band's version of "Kansas City,"
with Robert "Hoot" Gibson on guitar at far left, George "Pinky" Nelson on vocals,
Jim Wetherbee on drums, and Brewster Shaw on rhythm guitar at far right."
(Video: Courtesy Hoot Gibson) - Air & Space Magazine

More Music For Space

Music FOR Space Exploration
Commissioned by NASA

Credits: NASA JSC Digital Image Collection
Susan Helms plays the keyboard while floating inside Endeavour's
middeck during mission STS-54. She is also a member of
the astronaut band Max Q (which unfortunately has never
released any tapes or CD's.)

Since the 1960s NASA's Art Program has invited artists in all media to create works about space exploration. Here are some entries about musicians who have participated and about some of their works.


Laurie Anderson
Laurie has become the first artist-in-residence of NASA. She will be developing space inspired work after having speng considerable time at NASA centers.

Jane Ira Bloom: Space
Jane Ira Bloom, the highly respected composer and saxophonist, was the first musician commissioned by NASA to contribute to its art program.

In honor of her space music, the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid after her. The asteroid # 6083, first discovered in 1984, became Janeirabloom in 1998.

Her works about space include

  • Art & Aviation - 1991 - for jazz quintet & brass choir. Available on the CD Art & Aviation.
  • Einstein's Red/Blue Universe - 1994 - for soprano saxophone, improvisors, & orchestra - commissioned by The Amnerican Composers Orchestra and performed by the orchestra at Carnegie Hall.
  • Most Distant Galaxy - 1989 - for soprano saxophone & live electronics, prepared tape, bass, drums and elektro-acoustic percussion - commissioned by NASA. Available on the CD Art & Aviation.
  • Fire & Imagination -1989 -for soprano saxophone, improvisors and chamber orchestra -commissioned by NASA.
  • Beyond the Sky - 1989 - for wind ensemble - commissioned by NASA.
  • Rediscovery: STS-26, The Return to Flight - 4 movement suite for jazz musicians & Chamber Orchestra - 1989.
  • Soundtrack segments for the PBS documentary Robotic Missions to Mars first shown on October 2001and hosted by Walter Cronkite. The works were performed by her trio with Rufus Reid on bass and Jerry Granelli on elektro-acoustic percussion.

Currently, Bloom's space music is included in NASA's Artrain USA - Artistry in Space exhibition that is traveling around the country through 2002.

The article A Discovery in Jazz, Final Frontier, Aug. 1988 by C.J. Houtchenst featured Jane Ira Bloom.

Judy Collins' Beyond the Sky
Judy Collins was commissioned by NASA for a song to honor Eileen Collins, the first woman commander of a space shuttle. The famous singer/songwriter premiered the song Beyond the Sky at a pre-flight briefing of STS-93.

RealVideo stream of her performance at NASA. Short clip at the Judy Collins home site.

Also, it is available on her CD Judy Live at Wolftrap (Amazon commission link)

Tena Clark Way Up There
Tena Clark is a well known song writer who has penned a number of hits for performers like Patti Labelle and Gladys Knight. She ran the company Disc Marketing that provides music for advertising.

She was commissioned by art program to write a song about the Space Station and in commemoration of the Centennial of Flight celebration coming in 2003 on the anniversary of the Wright Brothers flight.

Way Up There is the result and she is very happy with the song according to the article Writer Searches for Singer for NASA Song in Space News, April 29, 2002 (not available on the Space News web site). She is actively "searching for a well known artist" or artists to perform it.

Orion by Philip Glass
Orion was commissioned by the the Athens Cultural Olympiad and it premiered in June 2004. Glass performed it with an international ensemble:

Just as cultures are linked by shared themes, a common history and customs, so we - each separately and all together - are linked by the common quality of the natural world: rivers, oceans, our environment, its forests and mountains. And stars. Man has gazed up at the stars since the birth of humanity. This is the origin of astrology, astronomy, the measurement of the seasons and the first steps of science. I believe there is no single experience in the world which tells us more than the vastness of space, and the innumerable heavenly bodies. And thus the stars form a bond between us all - regardless of country, nationality, regardless even of time.

Orion, the largest constellation in the night sky, can be seen at all times of year, from both hemispheres. It seems that almost every civilisation has created myths and drawn inspiration from Orion. As the project advanced each of the musicians and composers, myself included, used part of this inspiration to aid us in our creative task.

And so the star-studded skies, seen from every corner of our planet, inspired us to present a multicultural, international, musical composition.

This reviewer liked the performance more than the music: Philip Glass, Orion (UK Premiere), International Soloists, Philip Glass Ensemble; Barbican Hall, 14th June 2004 (AR) - MusicWeb - review by Alex Russell.

An album was released in 2005. (Amazon: US UK)

Kronos Quartet / Terry Riley Sun Rings
The Kronos Quartet and the composer Terry Riley collaborated on this NASA Arts Program commissioned work that incorporated "sounds of the planets recorded by the Voyager mission on it's journey to deep space".

According to Riley's web site, the piece lasts for 90 minutes.

See also the Sun Rings page on the Kronos website.

See the entry in the Natural Space Sounds section for Prof. Don Gurnett, the Univ. of Iowa space scientist who supplied some of the space sounds for this production, e.g. Sounds of Space and Kronos - Univ. Iowa

Here are other news reports about this effort which premiered in 2002

NASA Music Videos:
Here are some videos developed or sponsored by NASA.

. .

A Conversation with Megan Halpern & Max Evjen
The creators of the rock musical production
Galileo: The Emotional Life of a Spacecraft

HobbySpace Interview with Blair Joscelyne
Composer of the soundtrack for Man Conquers Space
The background to the score of the alternative space history documentary.

 

Nasa Toys and Gifts
Photo To Space
The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
XCOR Aerospace
New Space Watch

The Nerds Coupons
 

 

To Touch the Stars
To Touch the Stars
Space songs CD
Prometheus Music
Star Cool - space music CD by Will Felten

 

 

 

 

 

Yuri's Night Space Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
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