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!
"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.
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
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
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
Michel Jarre - Last Rendez-Vous (Ron's Piece) - "Challenger"
- YouTube -
tune for the Mars Beagle Mission
The British rock group Blur
provided a short musical track to be carried to
Mars on the Beagle
2 Lander in 2003. Unfortunately, the craft did
not land safely. If it had, this tune would have
been the call sign first heard by ground controllers.
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.
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.
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
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
during a broadcast to Earth near Christmas time 1965,
on the Gemini 6 mission.
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,
in 55 languages, sounds,
that represent the best of earth and humanity.
Record page at JPL gives details about the Golden
Record along with clips of the sounds and the music.
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.
"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
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
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
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
"This video was filmed on Devon Island in the
High Arctic (75 degrees North), Nunavut, Canada,
for the NASA Haughton-Mars Project!"
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
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".)
Denver apparently was also in line for NASA's Citizen
in Space program until it was canceled after the Challenger
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
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
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
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 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
JSC Digital Image Collection Susan Helms plays the keyboard
while floating inside Endeavour's
middeck during mission STS-54. She is also a member
the astronaut band Max Q (which unfortunately
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.
In honor of her space music, the International Astronomical
an asteroid after her. The asteroid # 6083,
first discovered in 1984, became Janeirabloom
Her works about space include
Art & Aviation - 1991 - for jazz quintet
& brass choir. Available on the CD Art
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
Fire & Imagination -1989 -for soprano
saxophone, improvisors and chamber orchestra -commissioned
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.
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.
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.
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
Riley's 2002 Performance schedule: "Oct.
26th Hanscher Auditorium, Iowa City Iowa. The World
Premiere of SUN RINGS commissioned by NASA. A 90 minute
work for KRONOS QUARTET with a light show and visuals
by WILLIE WILLIAMS. This work is based on and uses
sounds recorded in Space by NASA using the innovative
recording devices of Dr. Donald Gurnett of the University