While Neil Armstrong might be more famous for being the first American to walk on the moon, on this day in 1965, Ed White became the first American to conduct a space walk. He called it the most comfortable part of the Gemini 4 mission and the order to end it as the saddest moment of his life.
White and Armstrong might be famous for first space accomplishments but they are hardly the first men to be captivated by the wonder, beauty, and power of space.
In 1609, a German mathematician and astronomer named Johannes Keplar theorized a notion that has come to be known as the ‘music of the spheres.’ Mannheim Steamroller and American Gramaphone founder, Chip Davis, was intrigued by Keplar’s ideas about the relationship between music and space. So much so in fact that it, along with a keen interest in promoting the benefits of space exploration, Chip created an album that mixes the sounds of a NASA Space Shuttle launch and landings to remind us of what is possible when we dream.
“Keplar thought the stars replicated the notes on the music staff,” says Chip. “I thought this was really a neat concept for an album.” Chip and the Mannheim Steamroller crew were granted unprecedented access to record a Space Shuttle launch and two Shuttle landings. Those recordings have been characterized by NASA as the most accurate ever made. For Chip, the recordings and the album that celebrates them, Music of the Spheres (rel. June 2013), was another groundbreaking way to bring music into peoples’ lives and enrich our collective experience.
The album’s opening piece, “Escape from the Atmosphere,” captures the drama and wonder of a space shuttle launch using genuine field recordings and NASA commentary set to a dynamic and uplifting musical score. Other original recordings on the album include Chip’s take on the Star Trek theme and two pieces from composer Gustav Holst’s Planets suite (Neptune, The Mystic and Mars, The Bringer of War).
“The U.S. space program has always fascinated me,” says Chip. “Ever since my grandfather took me out to the country to look at stars I’ve wanted to know more about them.”
While Chip has been busy bringing the wonder of space down to the music of earth, a researcher with NASA recently discovered that space makes its own music. That news is music to Chip’s ears as he continues to boldly go where no musician has gone before – exploring new boundaries in musical composition and using the resultant sound to inspire hope and healing in our hearts.