Here's a review I wrote for The Albertan Composer in 1996. It contains
much of what I am.

NASA Voyager Recordings
- 5 CD set -
Recordings from the planets and moons of our Solar System

Laserlight 12 123

Well, it has happened at last and poor, suffering humanity had best sit up and take notice. Not only does the Music of the Spheres really exist, but it is available for all to hear!

This music comes from the transmissions of the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft

P.S. If you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed
writing it, perhaps you would like to try another.
The link below will take you to my overview of the first 3
New Music Festivals sponsored in the early 1990s by the
Edmonton Composers' Concert Society.
(now called New Music Edmonton)
I was a co-organizer of these events.
"Reflections on Three Festivals".
      Or this one, not a review really,
but an essay of reflection on our inner being,
and a new father's perceptions.
"The Will to Believe".

that flew by Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune, as well as many of their moons, between July 1979 and August 1989. To quote the album notes, "although space is a virtual vacuum, this does not mean there is no sound in space. Sound does exist as electronic vibrations. The specially designed instruments on board the Voyagers performed special experiments to pick up and record these vibrations, all within the range of human hearing". These experiments were primarily scientific in nature, of course, since electromagnetic radiation "...can help determine the structure and composition of an atmosphere, the size and distribution of particles in rings, and the characteristics of planetary and satellite gravitational fields". But the resulting sounds are haunting and resonant in a way that puts foolish New Age composers to utter rout.

Again the notes: "These recordings are the most unique approach to deep level relaxation and inner expansion through the use of sound in the world today". Now doesn't that sound like New Age gobbledygook? And yet this is precisely what those purveyers of pretty, boring nonsense are striving for and missing completely. This is power that brings peace, peace that brings passionate agitation, agitation that soothes, all at the same time and within the confines of one little cranium. Sitting still, eyes closed, lotus position if you can, an Apollonian spirit descends and visions of Jupiter swim serenely in your internal viewscreen while you hurtle toward it at speeds 50 times that of the fastest bullet. World leaders should hear this stuff, and if they don't then go out and give universal cease-fire orders, they should be locked up in a home for the Bottomlessly Insensitive and publicly pitied.

Long ago, in the days of Pythagoras (the man to whom we owe all we are today) it was believed that mathematical ratios had powers beyond even traditional magic. After all, ratios had been discovered first in the lengths of vibrating strings; an octave being 2:1, etc. Then they were noticed everywhere--in the swinging of pendula, in the division of the day and the year, Even Apollo playing his lyre had to pluck the string that was twice as long if he wanted the lower octave, and this was pure heresy. It is hard for us to imagine the resistance to such ideas from, say, the Apollonian priesthood who wanted to keep their boy on top and could not tolerate placing bounds upon God. The Pythagoreans kept their secrets within their own brotherhood and severely punished anyone who revealed them. Such power surely had healing effects, they believed, and even NASA acknowledges this in the notes quoted above. It is not by accident that the words 'tone' and 'tonic' are common to music and medicine. Later, people like Kepler found ratios in planetary orbits, and now they are so commonplace that even teachers have forgotten the mighty effect that Pythagoras' simple observation has had on the world. Students today actually consider the topic boring!! How much we have let slip away....

What does all this have to do with a NASA CD? The Pythagoreans perpetuated the myth that the Spheres, travelling around on Ptolemy's perfectly circular crystal spheres (yes, it is anachronistic to put those two names together like that--indulge me), produced tones in ratios that only their master could perceive. The rest of us were simply too grossly constituted to be aware of this beauty. It took 2500 years for them to be proven wrong, and yes, this music is all they said it must be.

To fully appreciate the significance of this recording, one must read a history of mathematics (which is to say a history of science and a history of medicine) since they all had a common origin. This reviewer recommends The Sleepwalkers, by Arthur Koestler, a book which has had a profound influence on his life and which no musician can fail to read and still call himself a musician, nor any scientist a scientist, nor any doctor a doctor.

The album is not a total success, however. The sounds last only about 30 minutes and you never know just which planet or moon you are listening to since they are not identified. Would it make a difference if you knew you were listening to the plasma caught in the magnetosphere of Callisto? It may not matter to most people, but it bothers me. However the sound makes up for any possible shortcomings. So give yourself a couple of hours, put the CD on a good sound system in a resonant room and turn it up to full room volume. A little hash wouldn't hurt either...no, scratch that. This is the music of the universe, composed by God Herself. Mere chemicals pale by comparison.

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