Space Music: Sounds of the Universe and Planetarium Soundtracks

Geodesium gets cosmic.

As we've discussed in previous posts, the universe is constantly emitting a chorus of strange sounds. Most of the time, however, we can't hear them. So we're compelled to create our own amazing music about it. Sometimes this means busting out some 1980s new age synth in a planetarium.

First up in this week's Space Music, 365 Days of Astronomy podcaster Carolyn Collins Petersen conducted this interview with Mark C. Petersen AKA Geodesium. Since 1975, Geodesium has recorded and produced soundtracks for more than 50 star-gazing shows in more than 800 planetariums around the world. Here's a quick cut from the interview:

"When I create space music for planetarium shows, I get to take audiences out from under the dome and to anywhere in the universe they want to explore ... There's immense beauty and grandeur in the cosmos, and my music often speaks to that aspect. I want my music to touch the listener deeply, to transport someone from Earth to out in the universe - to inspire them to look up at the stars and dream."

What's his stuff like? Well, if you're a fan of Mystery Science Theater 3,000, then just think "wall of keyboards." Some might call it cheesy, but who doesn't love some slightly cheesy synthesizer from time to time? Here's a taste from one of Geodesium's own videos: [youtube=]

Very ethereal. Very "Pure Moods" and "Music from the Hearts of Space." But how does it compare to the ACTUAL music of the cosmos? Here's a brand new TED Talk with physicist Janna Levin. Are you prepared to hear the love song of one back hole falling into a larger black hole? It kicks in at around the 11-minute mark. [youtube=]

Very cool. But how about a slick space mix to close out the post? I've really been digging this 2007 allez-allez mix by Principles of Geometry. I mean, can you go wrong with "two cosmic twins" who are obsessed with NASA videos and John Carpenter soundtracks? Really great stuff.

Also, if you're a fan of electronic music and want to contribute to the Japanese Red Cross, you should definitely plop down $15 for the Nihon Kizuna compilation. All the money goes to help tsunami victims. Just check out the list of contributing labels and artists and give this teaser mix a listen.

As always, you can find the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast on iTunes, Zune and the RSS feed. And don't forget the free HowStuffWorks iPhone App.

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About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.