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In space no-one can hear you sing...

Tom Service explores why space-inspired music sounds the way it does, talking to space scientist Lucie Green. Includes pieces by Holst, David Bowie, John Williams and Ligeti.

Space. A place few men or women have gone before ... but plenty of composers have. The universe has inspired musicians for hundreds of years and consequently we all know what space music sounds like. Or do we?

From Holst and David Bowie to John Williams via Ligeti, Thomas Ades and the Beastie Boys, Tom Service dons his spacesuit on a mission to explore why cosmic-inspired music sounds the way it does, and discovers how space science is just as inspired by music as musicians are by space.

En route to the stars, space scientist Lucie Green is on hand to tell Tom the reality of sound in space, while mathematician Elaine Chew helps him uncover the music of the spheres.

Available now

30 minutes

Music Played

  • John Williams

    The Imperial March (From the Empire Strikes Back)

    Orchestra: City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Nic Raine.
    • Polydor.
  • Eriks Esenvalds

    Stars

    Choir: VOCES8.
    • Lux.
    • Decca.
    • 7.
  • Elton John

    Rocket Man

    • Mercury.
  • David Bowie

    Space Oddity

    • Virgin.
  • John Williams

    Imperial Attack - from Star Wars

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: John Williams.
    • RCA.
  • Bart Howard

    Fly me to the Moon

    Singer: Julie London.
    • EMI.
  • Rued Langgaard

    Music of the Spheres - Sehnsucht - Verzweiflung - Extase

    Orchestra: DR SymfoniOrkestret. Conductor: Thomas Dausgaard.
    • DaCapo.
  • Gustav Holst

    Neptune, the Mystic (The Planets, Op 32)

    Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski. Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Choir: London Philharmonic Choir.
    • London Philharmonic Orchestra - Holst The Planets - Vladimir Jurowski Conductor.
    • LPO.
  • Kaija Saariaho

    Orion - 2nd mvt

    Orchestra: Orchestre de Paris. Conductor: Christoph Eschenbach.
    • Ondine.
  • Claude Debussy

    Dialogue du vent et de la mer (La mer)

    Conductor: Valery Gergiev. Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra.
    • Debussy: La mer/Jeux: LSO/Gergiev.
    • LSO Live.
    • 4.
  • György Ligeti

    Atmosphères

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Jonathan Nott.
    • WARNER.
  • Louis and Bebe Barron

    Forbidden Planet - Overture

    • Small Planet.
  • Ron Grainer

    Doctor Who

    Music Arranger: Delia Derbyshire. Performer: The BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
    • Ace Records.
  • Beastie Boys

    Intergalactic

    • Capitol.
  • Jas Mann

    Spaceman

    Performer: Babylon Zoo.
    • Capitol.
  • Brian May

    Flash

    Performer: Queen.
    • EMI classics.
  • The Police

    Walking On The Moon

    • A&M.
  • Europe

    The Final Countdown

    • Epic.
  • David Bowie

    Life On Mars?

    • Virgin.
  • Gustav Holst

    Venus, the Bringer of Peace (The Planets, Op 32)

    Orchestra: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Vladimir Jurowski.
    • London Philharmonic Orchestra - Holst The Planets - Vladimir Jurowski Conductor.
    • LPO.
  • Terry Riley

    One Earth, One People, One Love (from Sun Rings)

    Ensemble: Kronos Quartet.
    • Nonesuch.
  • Johann Sebastian Bach

    Praeambulum in F major, BWV 927

    Performer: Angela Hewitt.
    • J.S. Bach, The French Suites: Angela Hewitt.
    • Hyperion.
    • 26.
  • Thomas Adès

    Tevot

    Orchestra: Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. Conductor: Sir Simon Rattle.
    • EMI.
  • Eric Idle

    The Galaxy Song

    Performer: Professor Stephen Hawking. Performer: Monty Python.
    • Virgin.

Sounds of Space

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (ESA Rosetta/ Manuel Sennft)Huygens microphone (ESA Huygens)
Huygens radar (ESA Huygens)Pulsar (CSIRO Parkes radio telescope, Australia)

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Tom Service
Interviewed Guest Lucie Green
Interviewed Guest Elaine Chew
Producer Hannah Thorne

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