Music of the Hemisphere

Music and Astronomy

Mark C. Petersen -- aka Geodesium -- at the keyboards. Courtesy Loch Ness Productions, Inc.

Welcome to my 365 Days of Astronomy page for March 13, 2011. It accompanies our podcast, titled “Space Music.” I have been receiving email and very nice comments from people about my episodes, and many ask about the music that accompanies my voice. So, I thought I’d introduce the composer of that music. His name is Mark C. Petersen, and his music appears around the world under the stage name “Geodesium” and distributes his music through his own label at Loch Ness Productions.  He’s also my husband — and to top it all off — we got married in a planetarium!

Mark began doing space music in the 1976 and releasing his works in 1977. He’s averaged an album once every three years or so, and his latest one is called Stella Novus. Its official release date is March 18, 2011, but it is available through Loch Ness Productions (CDs), (CDs now, downloads next week) and (both CD and downloads).  It’s coming very soon to iTunes, Rhapsody and other legitimate online merchants.  To celebrate the release, Mark created a very cool music video, available on YouTube and Vimeo.

Mark’s space music has been featured on several notable radio programs including “Music from the Hearts of Space”, “Starstreams” and “Echoes”.

Space music is a genre that actually harks back to the late 1920s, but experienced a huge rise in interest beginning in the 60s and into early 1970s.  it continues today.  The most commonly associated instruments with space music are the synthesizer, the Mellotron,the vocodor, the theremin, and even some orchestral instruments. It seems to transcend other genres, such as “classical” or “rock” or “jazz.”  For a long time, record stores would file it under “jazz” or “soft rock”, or “ambient”.  These days, space music seems to be shuffled under the rubric of “new age”.  As Mark alludes in his interview, space music — at least as he likes to create it — is a genre that takes you from Earth and deposits you (usually gently) on the shores of the cosmic ocean.  It takes you places that aren’t Earthlike, and lets you explore the universe through your imagination.

I’ve often heard of people listening to space music as they go stargazing, for meditation, during yoga, during massages, and simply as a relaxing way to end a hectic day.  It’s really a perfect fit for the planetarium and functions as the mood-setter, freeing the audiences from the every day and giving them the mental gateway to the stars. Mark, and a few other space music composers, have really defined the genre over the years. So much so that people kind of come to expect “spacey” sounds when they get under the dome.  So, next time you’re in the planetarium, perk your ears up. You could just well be hearing space music as you explore the planets, stars, and galaxies. And, it very likely will be from Geodesium!

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