Thursday, July 26, 2007

Space Music

In the late 1980s, I discovered, quite serendipitously, a fascinating program on public radio called Music from the Hearts of Space which featured New Age music. Up till then, I was completely unfamiliar with the genre, and when I first heard it on the radio, my first thought was, "I've got to find out what this is!" It wasn't long before I'd discovered several artists and become a serious fan of the genre, claiming it, whenever asked, as my favorite type of music.

The hosts of Music from the Hearts of Space, Stephen Hill and Anna Turner, called the music that was the show's foundation "space music". I loved that! Since I was a small child, I've been intoxicated by a passion for anything related to space -- planets, stars, manned and unmanned space exporation, the prospect of extraterrestrial life... in short, the entire realm of the cosmos. In later years this would lead to other obsessions -- quantum mechanics, theoretical physics, relativity, superstring theory, the search for a "theory of everything", you name it, and if it hasn't captured my imagination yet, it will.

Space music gives me a spiritual lift into the cosmos, where I stroll like a star-struck tourist on a Hollywood back lot, but the "celebrities" that most fascinate me are real stars -- and while I'm by no means oblivious to the loveliness of the female form, the heavenly bodies that turn my head the quickest are really heavenly bodies. Among my favorite artists are John Serrie (And the Stars Go with You, Lumia Nights, Flightpath), Constance Demby (Novus Magnificat: Through the Stargate), and Michael Stearns (Encounter, Singing Stones).

A couple of days ago I was listening to a podcast of, I believe, a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) program which featured a scientist with NASA who specializes in recording audio of space sounds. Space is not a dead, empty place, but is full of gases and dust, movement and activity, and solar wind moving at a million miles an hour can generate a heck of a whoosh going around celestial bodies. Some fascinating space sounds have come from the Cassini mission to Saturn, and you can listen to wave files at the website -- it's eerie how much this sounds like the effects from 50's sci-fi movies like Forbidden Planet. (There's another cool page of planet sounds from Jupiter, Uranus, and Earth.) I half expected to look around and see Robby the Robot in my kitchen. Which would have been very cool indeed.

Live long and prosper, and may the force be with you!

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