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Cosmic Bach: Electronic, New Age, Jazz, Symphonic,
and Natural Space Music...

Wanderers a short film by Erik Wernquist.

Here we present several diverse genres of space inspired music as well as natural sounds that actually originate in space.


Ambient, New Age & Electronic Space Music
We begin with electronic space music. Electronic music ranges from Space Age Pop to Progressive Rock and Spacerock to New Age.

The term Space Music, in fact, often implies New Age music. This probably comes 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.

Note that a sub-genre of New Age has developed with music intended as soundtracks for planetarium presentations. See, for example, the Loch Ness Production albums.

We present here a few albums with a strong connection to actual space exploration and to musician sites and other resources !

Online Space Music Radio Stations

Pioneer 10
"The music for this piece was recorded on June 13, 1983 in celebration of the
fact that Pioneer 10 was leaving our solar system that day, headed for
interstellar space. I've coupled this with a video adaptation of the official NASA
artwork created by Don Davis. The image is courtesy NASA. Feel free to use the music
and video in new creations, provided you provide credit to me, Don Davis and NASA.
I hope you enjoy this musical voyage that commemorates a great day
in space exploration. --Fred Becker "

Fred Becker
A long time space music creator & space activist. Explorations of our musical universe via vintage and contemporary keyboards and software. Electronic, space, synthesizer, neoclassical, ambient, soundtrack music.


Music For Mars Missions
Joost Egelie created this electronic style music, which is described as follows,
It is said that man can achieve anything in his dreams. Well, this album takes this statement in every aspect to the next level; just close your eyes and join me on a cosmic trip to the Red Planet. Let the music take you on a journey towards Mars.
Listen to the full album (2009) on line.

Apollo - Synth.NL
Michel van Osenbruggen, who records under the name Synth.NL, created this album (released on Oct. 1, 2011) because he -

"was inspired by the Apollo Moon missions, undertaken by NASA during the 60’s and 70’s of the previous century. Since I was born in 1969, the same year that Neil Amstrong set foot on the Moon, I have always felt a very strong connection to this event. Listening to this album will take you on a voyage from the Earth to the Moon and back again. Many of the astronauts that actually took this journey have stated that they went up there to discover the Moon, yet really discovered Earth. Before Apollo, no-one had ever traveled far enough away to actually see the whole planet in one view. Pictures of that beautiful blue marble floating in space have become famous the world over and have made mankind feel more interconnected than ever before. In my opinion, the Moon landings represent human’s greatest technological achievement up to date. I really hope to live the day that we will be able to return there."


Eleven by Graham Smith
This project is "A musical tribute to Apollo 11, the first mission to land a man on the moon". The website provides samples of the eleven songs, which each depict a phase of the Apollo 11 journey. The album offers "over 50 mins of melodic electronic instrumental music".

Philip Sheppard
Cellist, professor of music, and composer Philip Sheppard has created several space inspired works. This includes the soundtrack for the well reviewed documentary In the Shadow of the Moon (2007). His Cloud Songs became the basis of the music for First Orbit (2011).

Here are some samples of his works:

DAWN by Radiomovies

LOOK UP by Radiomovies

The Clockwork Galaxy by Radiomovies


Columbia: We Dare to Dream
Musician and composer Anne Cabrera has created "a musical tribute to the astronauts of the NASA space shuttle Columbia". The music is described as "instrumental, combining synthesizer sounds with electronic versions of traditional orchestral instruments". The web page Columbia: We Dare to Dream describes the CD and provides samples of several of the tracks.

Columbia: We Dare to Dream by Anne Cabrera

Bodhi Leaf Productions created the documentary short film called MicroGravity about Anne Cabrera and the making of the CD. Here is the trailer (WMA) for the film.

The CD is available at Amazon.

Story Musgrave

The 30-year NASA veteran astronaut who flew six Space Shuttle flights has developed a multimedia presentation about his life and experiences in space.

  • Cosmic Fireflies CD "combines Story's poetry with music from space luminaries; Harry Roberts, Jonn Serrie, Brian Eno and Kevin Braheny. Perhaps the best space music odyssey ever, this one hour journey creates ambience, imagination and wonder".

  • "A Space Story" DVD "is a galactic journey with Story visiting the Hubble Space Telescope, viewing Earth from Space, and reaching for the Heavens through the eyes of Hubble with sounds from space music Luminaries."

A "Poetic Vision of Earth from Space" is a musical multimedia creation of Kenji Williams. The project is described as

a ‘Living Atlas’ multimedia journey of our world, and expresses the deeply moving beauty of planet Earth as seen through the eyes of astronauts by successfully simulating space flight. Collaborating with NASA, BELLA GAIA is a new immersive theater experience, a portal for an audience to develop a deeper connection and empathy with our planet Earth. Created by award winning director and classically trained violinist Kenji Williams, BELLA GAIA features a 45 minute live performance by Kenji with orbiting visualizations of Earth from space. [continue]
Here is sample of the work:


John Stanford
John Stanford describes his music as "Deep Space | Ambient Music | Chillout". His website and YouTube Channel offer several samples such as the following:



Kurt Swinghammer- Vostok 6 - 2000
Vostok 6 is an "electronic concept album inspired by Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkov".

  • Hear samples at Amazon: US

Alpha Wave Movement
This project creates "music draws influence from classic 70's analog emusic to modern ambient music."

Apollo Atmospheres Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois, & Roger Eno
Soundtrack for Al Reinert's documentary For All Mankind. On the Brian Eno's album Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks (1983 Editions EG - ENO 5). Some of the music can also be found on Eno's Music for Films III.


Rendezvous Jean Michael Jarre
This album was dedicated to the Challenger crew. As discussed above, Ron McNair during the Challenger mission was going to play on his saxaphone a piece written for him by Jarre.

The piece appears on this album with the sax played by Pierre Gossez: Track 6 - Last Rendez-Vous.

Read more about this in Space Milestones In Song - Space.com - Aug.26.00

Mannheim Steamroller
This innovative group released in 2007 the CD: The Music of the Spheres, which features space inspired music.

Mike Oldfield
Mike Oldfield, of Exorcist soundtrack fame, has created several space related works.

  • The Songs Of Distant Earth - 1996 album inspired by the famous book of Arthur C. Clarke.
  • The Space Movie film score
    • Amadian - The Mike Oldfield Discography :

      Film score includes extracts from "Orchestral Tubular Bells", "Orchestral Hergest Ridge", "Ommadawn", "Incantations" and "Portsmouth".

      Music written by Mike Oldfield except "Portsmouth" which is traditional. Directed by Tony Palmer

      A film first televised in 1979 and later edited on vhs in 1983. "The Space Movie" contains footage specially made avaliable by NASA and The U.S. National Archive of the lunar landscape to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the first man landing on the moon.

      The soundtrack was supposed to be released as an album, including the otherwise unreleased "Orchestral Hergest Ridge", but it never was.

Best in Space Music of Cosmos

Vangelis has created a number of works inspired by space themes. For example, he did the soundtrack for the famous Cosmos documentary series created and hosted by the astronomer Carl Sagan.

Recently, he released his Mythodea composition that was dedicated to the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission that is now orbiting the red planet. Audio clips

A concert of the music was performed on June28, 2001in a Greek temple in Athens and included sopranos Kathleen Battle and Jessye Norman, the London Metropolitan Orchestra, the 120-member chorus of the National Opera of Greece and twenty-eight percussionists.

Vangelis: Mythodea - Interview at the Mars Odyssey Website

A 1996 compilation of Vangelis's space inspired compositions such as Albedo 0.39 and Cosmos.

Vangelis also did an electronic version of his soundtrack for Blade Runner, which takes place on earth but had characters and background stories involved with space travel.

See also Elsewhere - independent Vangelis site.

Here is the full Vangelis - Cosmos album:



Martin Schiff's astronomy inspired music ranges from ambient to swing. Listen to the music here.

Planetary Chronicles by John Serrie
Planetary Chronicles, Vol.II by John Serrie
Planetarium soundtrack music.

Jonn Serrie
Jonn Serrie has written and performed a number of space inspired compositions and albums. He was commissioned, for example, to perform at the Apollo 11 30th Anniversary Celebration 1999.

He has collaborated with astronaut Story Musgrave on a multi-media show about space and the photos that Musgrave took during his 6 shuttle flights.

Star Chronicles - VHS/DVD animated video producedby Charlie Case in collaboration with Serrie.

William Edge
William Edge " is an American composer of ambient space music and space-jazz" (Bio). The SoundClick website provides samples of his music such as Signal from Cerbus Star, Toward Distant Stars, and The End of Galaxy 10.

Immersion Theory
Ambient "space music" from John-Mark Austin. The first release, "The Icarus Foray is a transcendent auditory journey through the universe and into the heavens."

  • CD Baby: IMMERSION THEORY: The Icarus Foray
  • Review by Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END 8 May 2008:

    "...Throughout four tracks Austin contemplates the grandeur of the cosmos and mankind's attempts at communion with it. With airy synth pads, deep sweeping tones and reverberant waves of electronic harmonies each composition builds a delicate atmosphere. Combining this with astronaut voices, ethereal choirs, rumbling spaceship effects and a dynamic musical range extending from the sustaining quietude of space to exultant orchestral crescendos gives us an album equally at home in the planetarium as it is on a remote hillside gazing at stars."

Fernando Corona is a "Mexican electronica artist and soundscaper" who has produced music for planetariums.

Fiorella Terenzi
An astrophysicist, a science popularizer, and a musician, Dr. Fiorella Terenzi has created several works that use sounds derived from celestial radio signals:

Fiorella's Stations at MP3.com

Digital Moonscapes by Wendy Carlos
Wendy Carlos, of Switched-On Bach fame and composer of soundtracks for A Clockwork Orange, The Shining, and Tron, was inspired by the Voyager missions to create a suite of musical portraits of the major moons of the solar system.

Emulating a fully symphony orchestra with her GDS and Synergy Digital Synthesizers (this was before samplers), she performs two suites on the album:

  • Cosmological Impressions with three movements: Genesis, Eden and .I.C ("Intergalactic Communications").
  • Moonscapes with 9 movements: Luna, Phobos & Deimos, Ganymede, .Europa, Io, Callisto, Rhea, Titan, Iapetus.

The Moonscapes, in the spirit of Holst's Planets, begins with an impression of Luna and then works outward to the moons of Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.

LifeTron Evolution of the Sun
Mike Milillo and Henry Tarnecky are music composers "who write music pertaining to the fusion of science and music." Their most recent work is called "The Evolution of the Sun"

The work "is a 20-minute musical, narrative depiction of the scientific processes involved in the birth of stars, their evolution and inevitable yet variant demise. Experience a prelude of the big bang and the ultimate coalescing of hydrogen to helium, the fundamental elements, which make up our star and all stars in our perceived universe."

Other projects in development include compositions celebrating "The Science of Special and General Relativity,"

Boris Belo and his wife Victoria are independent producers of audiovisual programs that mainly invovle "sci-fi audio theatres (radio drama) and audiobooks, plus all that comes with it: music soundtracks, special effects (SFX), foleys, moods, soundcapes, etc."

Samples of their own music are available on their ACIDplanet.com page, including a complete version of Mars Cantata (to STS-107). They have created several albums including: Spacewalk: From Eden to Mars (2003).

See his sci-fi novel series Timeship.

Isao Tomita
A pioneer in synthesizer music, Tomita has made several albums with space themes. These include

  • The Planets (1976) - his version of Holst's The Planets Suite.
  • Kosmos (1978)
  • Space Walk (1984) - compiliation of previous release pieces but each re-titled with a space related label.
  • Dawn Chorus (1984) - includes radio astronomy audio recordings.

Carola Kassner
Carola Kassner is a German composer and musican who has released two albums Planetary Voyage (1994) and The Space Experience (1999) for Planetarium shows. The music is intended to "guide the listeners to the universe and accompany them to fantasy journeys through time and space."

Her downloads page includes MP3 files for several works from her albums, including The Rings of Saturn and Dance with a Comet.

She also creates space inspired artwork.

The Creation of Evolution Suite by Clinton S. Clark

Creation of Evolution Suite

This ambitious work tells the cosmic story "from the 'Big Bang' to the end of the 'Ice Age'". It consists of ten Acts with multiple Scenes. The CD comes with " a twenty-page booklet that describes each Act and each individual Scene."

"A contemporary soundtrack music that blends both acoustic and electronic instruments along with scene ambience and sound effects to create a delightfully Classical, New Age, and Jazz musical journey through time."

"Clinton S. Clark is an award-winning composer and studio musician with experience in motion picture scoring and music for planetariums (Voyager and Where Time Began). "Piano on the Net," another award winning project by Clint, and has been featured on the NBC Nightly News and on CNN."

Siddhartha Barnhoorn
Siddhartha has long been fascinated with space and is developing two albums inspired by space:

"Space Paranoid is going to be very complicated because I want to make it into a very evolving album beginning with symphonic rock and gradually changing to progressive metal and from that to synth... with those progressions I'm going to do various style like jazz and blues... got samples on my site from things finished."

"The Space Suite is all classical. I use samples with that and a very deep mysterious reverb. Also samples on my site."

Samples of his works can be found on his site.

Mar.28.04: The Opus 1: Space Suite - The Undiscovered Journey was completed.

Song of Mars by Serban Nichifor
Inspired by this rendering of Mars from Kees Veenenbos, the Romanian composer Serban Nichifor created Songs of Mars and In Aeternum.

Furthermore, the composer says the background of the music (the "objective" like organ sounds) is actually a conversion of the jpg image to midi sounds using the MIDImage software. The melody is his "subjective" contribution made with Mozart, the Music Processor™ music notation software.

The compositions are available in the Mozart format (".mz" files): Song of Mars and In Aeternum. (A free Mozart Viewer is available for playing the files.) The Song of Mars is also available from The Living Music Journal as a MIDI file.

Flow Motion
British experimental electronic music group consisting of Edward George and Anna Piva . They pursue "exploration of different concepts of space and their translation into music and art. In particular, the group’s work demonstrates a preoccupation with the cosmos."

George and Piva have also experienced weightlessness via a plane in Russia flying parabolas and made recordings during the flight. More about this in their entry at spacearts.info.

Here's an announcement of a exhibition in 2005: Art-Music-Astro Dialogue - Space Log - Apr.1.05

Gulan Electronica Ambient Meditation Space music
Gulan is the pseudonym of a composer from Latvia who creates wide-ranging electronic music - ambient meditation space music,new age and progressive electronica. Continue...

Here are their space music albums. A clips player is provided. Downloads available at Gulan-meditation - SoundClick and Gulan - Soundclick.

Wheel of Stars
Jim Bumgardner created this program, which generates ambient music from star data gathered by the Hipparcos satellite. Go to the Wheel of Stars site to listen to the program and to get the details of how it works.

See also this extended interview with Bumgardner about this and other unusual programs that he has created: Listen to the Music of the Spheres - Universe Today - Jan.20.10.

Symphony of Science
John Boswell created this project "to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form". He says it "owes its existence in large measure to the wonderful work of Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, of Druyan-Sagan Associates, and their production of the classic PBS Series Cosmos, as well as all the other featured figures and visuals."

The project has gotten the most attention with the music videos created from the Cosmos series and the "musicalizing" of Carl Sagan. See, for example the following video titled, 'A Glorious Dawn":


Matt Howarth: Music & Music links
Matt Howarth
is an artist/writer who has created several well known leading edge sci-fi works such as the Bugtown and Xenotech series. He also illustrates books from other authors.

Read the 3-part interview at Space.com. (The second part gives a history of electronic space music.)

He draws much of his inspiration from an intense interest in electronic space music. Note that his columns overlap with the Spacerock genre.

He had a regular column at Space.com called SonicSpace. These Space.com links are all broken but may be available in Howarth's index of columns and at archive.org.

  • Musically Applied Science - Dec.13.00
  • The Archeological Space Music of Mark Dwane - Dec.6.00
  • Vir Unis Sculpting the Sonic Romance of Space - Nov.7.00
  • Arcane The Spooky Sound of Space - Oct.30.00
  • New Releases on the Space Station - Oct.25.00
  • The Lunar Melodies of Holger Czukay - Oct.18.00
  • Sonic Space: Explosive, Electronic, Galactic - Oct.4.00
  • Geodesium Makes Sweet Planetarium Music - Sep.13.00
  • Hawkwind Rocks Live (part one) - Sep.1.00
  • Prog Rock at the Atmosphere's Edge - Aug.23.00
  • The Cosmic Soundscapes of Saul Stokes - Aug.9.00
  • The Intergalactic Sound of Magma - July.26.00
  • The Intergalactic Sound of Magma, Part Two - Aug.2.00
  • Djam Karet: Dark Guitar Fusion - July.19.00
  • Spacecraft: Exploring the Aural Void - July.12.00
  • Blue Man Group - July 6.00
  • Independent Space Rock - June.28.00
  • Cuneiform Records and Surprise Space Music - June.21.00
  • Steve Jolliffe, Sonic Adventurer . June.15.00
  • Quarkspace, The Space Music Fusion of Hawkwind and the Greatful Dead - June.7.00
  • Steve Roach, Trance Master - May.31.00
  • The Sounds of Quantum Music - May.25.00
  • Hawkwind, Individual Luminaries of Space Rock -May.17.00
  • Hawkwind, Masters of Space Rock - May.10.00
  • Robert Rich, Dream Master - May.3.00
  • Independent Space Music: Orbital Decay, Team Metlay, Ozma - April.26.00
  • Music in the Shadow of Telescopic Arrays: Radio Massacre International - Space.com - April.19.00
  • Ozric Space - April 12.00
  • Tangerine Dream of Space - April.5.00

Loch Ness Productions: Planetarium Space Music
Loch Ness Productions provides a wide selection of New Age style background music for planetarium presentations. GEODESIUM by ---- was their first planetarium hit.

  • A Gentle Rain Of Starlight - album released in 2007
  • Fourth Universe - "A collection of 18 space music compositions which were composed as soundtrack music for planetarium shows."
  • West of the Galaxy - "Nine selections of the world's most prolific planetarioum soundtrack composer."
Space Music Ezines, Forums, etc.
More Artists

Symphonic & Classical Space Music
Holst Planets Suite is probably the earliest space music ever created and is still among the most popular. Here we discuss the Planets and other symphonic and classical style space music.

The Planets by Gustav Holst
Gustave Holst's most popular work, written between 1914 and 1917, was actually inspired by his love of astrology and classical mythology rather than any astronomical interest.

With an expressive late-romantic style, each piece of the suite gives a vivid picture of a planet's mythic persona. Mars and Venus, for example, present a vivid contrast between warlike and peaceful gods.

Holst was a very shy person who seemed overwhelmed by the attention that Planets brought upon him. He never wrote anything like it again.

Those HobbySpacers who claim they never listen to classical, have nevertheless heard, and probably enjoyed greatly, music from the Planets, especially the Mars movement, via soundtracks of innumerable space documentaries and of films of all kinds.

More resources:


Pluto, the Renewer by Colin Matthews
When the well respected composer Colin Matthews was ask to write a companion piece to Holst's Planets Suite for the planet Pluto (discovered after the suite was composed but a few years before his death) he initially demurred. But after thinking about it, he decided to give it a shot. In the sleeve notes to Holst: The Planets, Matthews: Pluto (Amazon commission link) he writes:

"'Pluto' is dedicated to the memory of Holst's daughter Imogen, with whom I worked for many years until her death in 1984, and who I suspect would have been both amused and dismayed by this venture."

I've not heard the piece yet, here is one view:

"In 'Pluto' Matthews takes as his starting point the choral fade-out of 'Neptune' and almost as a flash-back produces a pianissimo world, a mercurial scurrying of chromatic runs and scales. The long-held very soft pedal points, evocative orchestral colour, and the shining effect of harp and celesta, all add to the almost tangible pictorial effect. Two great outbursts are suddenly upon us and as quickly vanish, perhaps a comet suddenly streaking into view, recalling the impact of Matthew's earlier Suns Dance. Almost before we realise it the distant vocalising choir floats into our hearing again, as if it had been there throughout, and Matthews is back with Holst confronting the infinite." - Lewis Foreman, sleeve notes to Holst: The Planets, Matthews: Pluto (Amazon commission link)

Cosmonaut: A Dance Opera in Four Orbits
By David Chesworth and librettist Tony MacGregor
Cosmonaut is a modern opera by composer David Chesworth and librettist Tony MacGregor. It was inspired by the fate of Soviet cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, who was in orbit as the USSR fell apart.

"..rich in content and eclectic in instrumental approach, especially in the daring and unusual use of pedal steel guitar normally reserved exclusively for quality country music."

See the composer's note at Cosmonaut Opera - Space Log - Oct.21.04

More info at

Paradises Lost
Music composed by Stephen Andrew Taylor with the bibretto by Marcia Johnson. It is based on the novella by Ursula K. Le Guin from the story collection The Birthday of the World. It was commissioned by the University of Illinois. The work premiered at the U of I Krannert Center on April 26-29, 2012.

The plot is described as follows:

What happens when you spend your whole life—entire generations—traveling toward a goal until the endpoint becomes unattainable? As voyagers on the starship Discovery are born and live their lives on a trip to colonize a distant planet, their metal-encased world becomes more tangible to them than Earth, which they have never seen. Hsing and Luis know that the ship's ultimate destination lies in the hands of future generations, but the followers of Bliss—a religion emerging from their cocoon in space—believe that they should remain inside their spaceship heaven for eternity. In this world premiere, a star-faring adventure transforms into an inward journey of conflict and turmoil.

Paradises Lost, a 2002 science fiction novella by Ursula K. Le Guin, tells the story of the Discovery, on a 200-year voyage to explore and colonize a planet known as New Earth, or Shindychew. The ship is almost perfectly self-contained and self-sustaining, and life aboard is lively and comfortable. Hsing and Luis, members of the fifth generation, born during the voyage, know no other life, no other world. They see their purpose as keeping things going til the ship lands, many years from now. They confront the followers of Bliss, and plots arise on both sides: those who want to land on the planet and those who want to travel through heaven forever, in Bliss. When the voyage is unexpectedly shortened, conflict becomes crisis.


GLAST Prelude, for Brass Quintet, Op.12 - Nolan Gasser
A work in celebration of the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) mission.

Man Conquers Space - film score by Blair Joscelyne
Blair Joscelyne composed the musical score for the short film Man Conquers Space
Read the full story in the interview with Joscelyne by HobbySpace. See also the section about the soundtrack at MCS.

Fresh Aire V by Mannheim Steamroller
Chip Davis and his Mannheim Steamroller group bring their rock'n'roll classical style to the story of Johannes Kepler's book, The Dream, from 1609. In this tall talem the dreamer travels to the moon and back.

With the help of the London Symphony Orchestra and the Cambridge Singers, the Steamroller tells the tale in 10 parts that include Lumen, Escape from the Atmosphere, and Z-Row Gravity.

Winds of Mars
Bach music played by pianist Roderick Kettlewell
While there was no actual microphone on the Mars Pathfinder, the sounds in Winds of Mars are based on indirect measurements (using a device that measured the direction of winds via the cooling effects on heated sensors) and some artistic interpretation to produce what is probably a realistic representation of the actual sounds on the surface.

(A microphone was actually on the Mars Polar Lander that crashed on Mars in Dec. 1999. It would have given a true measurement of the sound in the very thin Martian atmosphere. Unfortunately, we will have to wait several years for another lander to carry such a mic.)

These sounds have been used as a background to Bach piano music played by Roderick Kettlewell.

Voyage Into Space by Peter Nero
Peter Nero, maestro of the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra, composed this work in commemoration of John Glenn's space shuttle flight. It was used as wake up music one morning during the flight.

Shattering Suns by Stephen Taylor
The composer Stephen Taylor of Illinois State University was inspired by astronomy photos of celestial castrophes such as those caught by the Hubble telescope to compose a 5 movement work.

Descriptions of the five movements and RealMedia sound files:

  1. Nova
  2. Shockwave: Into the Maelstrom
  3. The Heart of the Sun - includes the solar oscillation sounds.
  4. Pale Blue Dot - in memory of Carl Sagan
  5. Viriditas

See also Heart of the Sun below in Natural Space Sounds subsection.

2001: A Space Odyssey - Soundtrack
2001: Space Odyssey provided virtually a symphonic musical appreciation course. It inspired many viewers, including this editor, who had had no previous interest in classical music to begin listening to it.

While many films have used classical music to great affect, no film has so successfully made it a central character in the film.

It's difficult, for example, to think of the film without the main theme from the opening of Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra.

The unusual style of the film, especially the long segements without dialog, brought special attention to the music, which acted almost as a narrator to the often baffling action on screen.

The film critic Roger Ebert goes so far as to say that the movie was really a silent movie with musical accompaniment.

At the time it was revolutionary to combine serious classical music with science fiction. I remember shocked gasps from some in the audience when Johann Strauss's Blue Danube began serenading the transport ship on its approach to the space station.

Kubrick did, in fact, commission a score for the film from Alex North, who had written the score for Kubrick's Spartacus. However, Kubrick played classical music as temporary background music during the making of the film and by the end he liked it so much he decided to use it instead.

More about 2001 in the Space Movies section.

2001: Space Odyssey by Ramunas Yaras
Inspired by the film, Lithuanian composer Ramunas Yaras created this truely beautiful work for two female voices, flute, violin and cello. Consists of three movements. Lyrics from the works of Arthur C. Clarke.

Yaras now works within the ENDICHE VIS.SAT group.

More Music & Resources


Destination Moon - Dinah Washington

Jazz is clearly one of the most innovative and leading-edge musical genres. Space themes often come up in the titles of many jazz compositions, although they are typically use space imagery as little more than light metaphors such as Sinatra's famous Fly Me to the Moon.

A few jazz musicians, though, such as Jan Ira Bloom have found great inspiration from space exploration. Note that also much of the Space Age Pop music was jazz styled.

Moon Maiden Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington performed this song, his first vocal, on television on the day of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. Later included on the album The Intimate Ellington - 1977.

Space is the Place by Sun Ra
Sun Ra (1914-1993) was probably best described as an experimental musician (he referred to his band members as tone scientists) who used space as the central metaphor for both his music and his philosophy.

His sound ranged from big band to jazz to free-form while his philosophy ranged from far-out to just plain cosmically weird. He said he was born on Saturn and was "here on the planet, you might say, for a mission".

Jan Ira Bloom
See antry in the Music for Space Exploration section.

Planets (Alex)
Dj Konik Morski | JAZZ & BLUES w Poznaniu (MySpace)

TEN 27: Black Book Project
The group called TEN 27 Jazz Trio created this multimedia show and CD, which involves music inspired by images from teh Hubble Space telescope. See jazz and cosmology - astropixie - Oct.10.08.

Other Jazz Space Tunes & Resources
  • Countdown Time in Outer Space - The Dave Brubeck Quartet - 1961
  • Happy Blues for John Glenn - Sam "Lightnin" Hopkins
  • Destination Moon (1962) - Dinah Washington, album Dinah'62
  • C.J. Houtchens, A Discovery in Jazz, Final Frontier, Aug. 1988. - about composer and saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom who was invited by NASA to contribute to its art program.
  • See entry for Ron McNair above.

Natural Space Music

Natural space sounds refer to those sounds obtained from natural physical processes such as the pops and whistles produced by lightning in the very low frequency (VLF) radio band. Pulsations of the sun, galatic radio signals and even Mars wind data can be presented in audible form. These sounds can have their own musical nature or can be used to accompany musical compositions.

Listen to the sounds of near space in realtime from the NASA online VLF receiver.

See also Natural Space Sounds and Space Sounds (spacecraft signals, astronaut conversations, etc.) in the Multiple Media section.

Sun Rings by Kronos Quartet / Terry Riley
For info about this work, see the entry in the section on the NASA Arts Program music .

See Don Gurnett below. He supplied the space sounds that inspired this production.

Don Gurnett: Space Audio - Univ. of Iowa
Prof. Donald A. Gurnett at the University of Iowa specializes in the study of space plasma physics and has participated in many space science missions. He also has a side interest in "sounds of space", referring to natural periodic signals emitted from various sources such as the Sun, the earth's aurora, Jupiter's ionosphere , etc.

Cassini-Huygens and The Sounds and Music of Saturn
The mission to the Saturn system has found lots of fascinating sounds generated by various electrical phenomena there. Some of these have been used to create music here on earth.


Stephen P. McGreevy's ground-based ELF-VLF recordings
* Electric Enigma at Irdial-Discs
Hear the Aurora Borealis on this CD:

"For the first time in history, the sounds of the Aurora Borealis and the EMF discharges of lightning bolts bouncing and stretching through the earths magnetosphere have been captured recorded and presented to the public in this ground breaking double CD set."

Hear the Whistlers, Sferics, and the Auroral Chorus.
WhatIsNaturalVLF? Reviews from the Longwave Club of America (see also the Longwave Home Page)

The Space Project
Lefse Records produced this album (April 2014), which is a collection of songs by 14 different artists who were challenged to use sounds transmitted from the Voyager spacecraft as inspiration for their songs.

See also


The Heart of the Sun - Stephen Taylor
A few years ago it was discovered that our sun oscillates, i.e. expands and contracts rythmically. A Stanford scientist, Alexander Kosovichev, sped up a month of oscillation data to produce some audible sounds which he made available on his web page.

The composer Stephen Taylor came across these recordings of the eerie sounds and decided to include them in this movement of his Shattering Suns symphony described above.

See also the page at the Stanford Solar Center about Solar Sounds Inspire Music.

See Shattering Suns above.

Ragas across Space
Created by space physicist Chanchal Uberoi and performed by several artists. the album combines "the sounds of the Earth, Sun, Jupiter and Saturn" with Indian classical ragas and compositions.

Ragas across Space is a unique album in which sounds from the Earth, Jupiter and Saturn, gathered by NASA's Polar, Voyager and Cassini spacecrafts are harmonized with Indian Classical Music. The project was spearheaded by Dr. Chanchal Uberoi, retired Professor from the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and features many wonderful artists from the Seattle, WA area.

From the album notes:

The solar system is full of "sounds" - electromagnetic radiation in audio and radio frequencies. This album is a harmonization of the sounds of the sun and the planets, with Ragas, as visualized by Chanchal Uberoi and performed by -- Chanchal Uberoi (Vocal), Daniel Shurman (Rudra Veena), Pran - Greg Powers (Trombone) & Stuart Dempster (Brass Didjeridu), Chaz Hastings (Tabla), Arijit Mahalanabis (Vocal), Vibhavaree Gargeya (Vocal).

The CDBaby page has samples of the tracks and the complete album notes.

See also:

Solar Sounds Inspire Music
The Stanford Solar Center page discusses how the sounds of the sun inspired the music of Stephen Taylor and others.
James R. Webb
Professor of physics at Florida International University in Miami who is also a musician who likes to write and play songs inspired by space.

Symphonies of the Planets
A CD made in 1992 from NASA Voyager Recordings of electromagnetic fields processed with digital sampling techniques.

"These recordings are the most unique approach to deep level relaxation and inner expansion through the use of sound in the world today."

While no longer in production, you might find it in used CD shops. (LaserLight Digital, catalog number 12 127.) I found the information here listed on an online space auction.

Sonifying Planetary Movements
Astronomer Gregory Laughlin at University of California at Santa Cruz studies the dynamics and evolution of planetary systems. In the course of his work he found that the repetitive aspects of planetary orbits could be "sonified" in various ways. An event with composer Philip Glass is described in a campus publication article as follows:

Laughlin said he and Glass will explore commonalities between music and orbital dynamics. The museum's initiative to pair the two was sparked in part by Laughlin’s articles on his blog oklo.org that delve into ways to "sonify" planetary movements.

He developed software to map planetary systems as audible waveforms. He said he became intrigued by the realization that planetary systems can be used as a type of nonlinear digital synthesizer and can provide an enormous palette of sound -- sounds never before heard.

The free systemic console program

integrates the model planetary system specified by the state of the console sliders and produces a .wav format CD-quality audio file of the resulting radial velocity waveform. Not interested in planets? The console is a stand-alone non-linear digital synthesizer. It’s capable of producing strange, remarkable, musically useful sounds. They merely need to be located within the uncountable infinity of solutions to the gravitational N-body problem.

More resources:

Sounds in Alien Atmospheres
Atmospheres on other worlds would likely have quite different pressures and compositions than that on earth. This will alter the sounds emitted from various musical instruments. Here are some reports on studies of how music would sound on different worlds.

Space Sounds
No music per se but this site is quite interesting. It is devoted to space generated sounds and has become quite popular. Check out the navigator, which makes it easy and fun to hear clips of various space sounds.

The Japanese Kaguya spacecraft has been orbiting the Moon since 2007. This unusual applet program converts surface elevation measurements made by the orbiter into musical tones.

More sites & Articles


Janna Levin: The sound the universe makes
"We think of space as a silent place. But physicist Janna Levin says
the universe has a soundtrack -- a sonic composition that records some of
the most dramatic events in outer space. (Black holes, for instance, bang
on spacetime like a drum.) An accessible and mind-expanding soundwalk
through the universe."


The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey






Journey to the Stars: A Sci-Fi Fantasy Adventure


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