Author Topic: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint  (Read 8773 times)

Gemini Ambience

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Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« on: March 23, 2008, 06:20:48 PM »
Hey everyone!

I finally got my TR8's connected to my audio interface...I forgot HOW nice these monitor speakers are. Flat and honest...I've been mixing in 6-8 hour sessions on them and I've had no ear fatigue. And then, it happened. I listened to Atlas Dei through the Events.  lolol  WOW.  :)  This is what brings me to my post:

What is the basic pattern structure used in space music? Is it the pairing of specific instruments that makes a song "space music," or is it a specific state of mind through which the listener becomes engulfed in the sonic environments and soundscapes?

I'm absolutely blown away by space music. I had never heard of it when I was younger...and now it's all I want to compose.  :) 

Are there any books or papers published that discuss the history of the genre? Also, to any of the modern space producers on this forum: are there any good exercises or methods a noobie such as myself would need to learn in order to create quality space environments?

As always, thanks in advance for any advice or guidance!

Peace,

Jim

APK

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2008, 06:29:59 PM »
I've never really been sure what space music is.
Does it have an accepted definition or accepted characteristics that set it apart from other ambient styles ?
What would be good examples ?
Be interesting to hear from people on this.

I will certainly have a listen to Atlas Dei with the term in mind.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 06:32:00 PM by APK »
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Gemini Ambience

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2008, 06:49:21 PM »
I will certainly have a listen to Atlas Dei with the term in mind.

Hey APK!

There's not much info online that discusses the compositional structure of space music. What I've taken away from the examples I've been listening to, is that there are two basic atmospheres: one that is more ethereal and minimal, and the other is sequencer loop driven (bassline and beautiful arpeggios arrangements). Chapter One of Atlas Dei is (in my opinion) a beautiful example of modern space music. The second atmosphere also tends to have more rhythmic emphasis. Some long-form pieces seem (to me) to be a delicate balancing between two extremes. And with a moniker like Gemini Ambience...that just seems to fit perfectly. LOL

Seriously though...whatever "space music" is...I'm really intrigued to try and start composing some.

I too look forward to the pending posts.  :)

Peace,

Jim
« Last Edit: March 23, 2008, 06:58:02 PM by Gemini Ambience »

APK

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2008, 07:53:31 PM »
Jim
is that Atlas Dei track the 2nd on the CD ... "Mythos" ?  ... very nice piece.
Reminds me of the excellent first track on Paul Ellis "Silent Conversations" album.
If this is space music then, yep, its basically arp + pads.
Goes back to the early Tangerine Dream style I'd assume.

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ffcal

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2008, 11:46:01 PM »
My guess would be that space music originated with music composed/performed for planetarium shows during the 70s and 80s.  Of course, there were visionary folks such as Stephen Hill who brought the subgenre to the forefront in the mid-to-late 80s.  I remember when he was broadcasting live in the mid-80s and played Robert Rich's music (then on cassette only) on his show.

Forrest

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2008, 11:52:15 PM »
There’s a very comprehensive wikipedia entry on "space music" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_music). I’m generally wary of wikipedia entries as authorities on a concept, but this one is clearly carefully constructed, and seems on the mark, esp. in re. the term’s taxonomic woolliness and lack of easy definition from a compositional perspective (n.b. the text below includes extensive references which I haven’t bothered to excise from this cut’n’paste job)

“The term "space music" has evolved and changed since it was first used over a half century ago. While there is a general agreement among contemporary Space music radio programmers, music critics, authors, and record producers about the sound and uses of the music, there is little agreement about how to define the term and how space music fits within the continuum of music genres.[3][25]

Six referenced commentators do not use the term interchangeably with ambient music, one is ambiguous, and one does so. Nine referenced commentators use the term space music as a subgenre of new age music (separate from ambient music) and do not use it interchangeably, one is ambiguous, four use space music interchangeably with new age music, and four consider space music and new age music completely unrelated. Two referenced commentators refer to space music as a sub-genre of electronic rock. [26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

Stephen Hill, co-founder of "Music from the Hearts of Space" (syndicated nationally in the USA on National Public Radio and XM Satellite Radio), uses the phrase "contemplative music, broadly defined" as an overview to describe the music played on his station, along with the term "spacemusic".[9] He states that the "genre spans historical, ethnic, and contemporary styles"[3], and that it combines elements from many cultures and genres, blended with varieties of acoustic and electronic ambient music, "woven into a seamless sequence unified by sound, emotion, and spatial imagery."[9] In his essay New age Music made Simple, he referred to space music as a sub-category of New Age.[21]

Hill's partner and co-founder of "Music from the Hearts of Space" Anna Turner (1944-1996) wrote in her 1989 essay entitled Space Music, that "New Age Space music carries visions in its notes; it is transcendent inner and outer space music that opens, allows and creates space... this music speaks to our present moment, to the great allegory of moving out beyond our boundaries into space, and reflexively, to the unprecedented adventures of the psyche that await within."[35]

In her book The New Age Music Guide, author, editor and music critic P.J.Birosik classifies Space music as a subgenre of New Age music,[36] as does Dallas Smith, writer, teacher and recording artist in his essay New Age Jazz/Fusion. [37] Steven Halpern, noted recording artist and workshop leader writes that Space music has been considered a synonym for New Age music: " 'Space' is a vital dimension of New Age music; so much so that one of the early appellations for the genre was simply 'space music', referring both to its texture and to the state that it tended to evoke in the listener."[38]

Music critic Lloyde Barde, founder of Backroads music, has also used a variety of definitions for Space music over time. He has referred to it as a type of Ambient music,[39] along with the closely related genre New Age music,[40] and has also stated the opposite; that Space music is a separate genre, with a distinct identity not part of Ambient or Electronic music,[41] "while drawing from any number of traditional, ethnic, or modern styles."[2]

Radio programmer John Dilaberto has stated that space music is related to electronic music,[13], as has Bay Area musician, composer and sound designer Robert Rich, who considers space music to be a combination of Electronic music influences from the 1970s with world music and "modern compositional methods".[42] Forest, host of Musical Starstreams refers to Space music as a separate genre along with Ambient music, and others including dub, downtempo, trip hop, and acid jazz in the list of genres he calls "exotic electronica".[43] Similarly, WXPN Radio's Star's End, programming ambient music since 1976, on its website lists Space music as a separate genre, along with Ambient, New Age, and others.[44]

Steve Sande, freelance writer for the San Francisco Chronicle considers space music to be "Anything but New Age," and writes that "spacemusic [is] also known as ambient, chill-out, mellow dub, down-tempo."[45] In the same article, he describes Stephen Hill's "Hearts of Space" spacemusic program as streaming ambient, electronic, world, New Age and classical music.[10] In contrast to this, according to author and National Endowment for the Arts researcher Judith H. Balfe, Billboard editor Jerry Wood describes space music as a one of several "genres within the genre" of new age music.[34]

All Music Guide, one of the world's largest commercial databases of music-related information, defines Space music as a subgenre of New Age music.[26] Similarly, mainstream retailer Barnes & Noble, independent online music retailer CDBaby, and RealNetwork's music download service Rhapsody all classify Space music as a subgenre of New Age music.[46][47] [28] Rhapsody's editorial staff writes in their music genre description for Space music (listed as a subgenre of New Age music) that "New Age composers have looked upward for inspiration, creating an abstract notion of the sounds of interstellar music."[48]

Musicologist Joseph Lanza relates space music to prior generations of relaxing or environmental music, with a twist, writing, "Space music is easy-listening with amnesia, sounding like the future but retaining unconscious ties to elevator music of the past."[49]”


From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_music


sraymar

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2008, 01:15:03 AM »
I'm glad there are multiple definitions, gives you alot to play around with. Michael Stern's Planetary Unfolding is alot different and busier than Steve Roach's Magnificant Void. Its like any other music that gets more interpretations as more people take a whack at it.  I guess the common thread is that it makes you spaced somewhat while giving you the sense of space.

I've noticed that its predominantly loop driven bringing the volume of the loops up and down as well as brightening and dulling the filters now and then. Robert Rich likes to play some spacey lap slide guitar over his loops. I have a tune at my SoundClick page called Illusion #2 that is made up of four long unlooped improvised tracks done one at a time, just reacting or improvsing to the previous tracks unrehearsed. That's a little different than another track I did called Scenic Route in which all tracks were improvised at the same time.

somewhere in space,
Steve
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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2008, 07:17:40 AM »
Its surprising how that Wikipedia excerpt does not describe what space music is, in musical terms ... its only about where they put the category amid other categories.

But maybe space music is defined more by mood than instrumentation and the like.
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Undershadow

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2008, 09:31:24 AM »
I think so, Anthony. There’s no description in musical terms, as you point out, probably because it’s not really a distinct musical genre (I might mention in passing that “space music” is hardly recognised as a genre descriptor in the UK). It’s seems more like one of those ragbag labels stuck on a range of artists between the 70s and 80s by dint of a connective cosmic or meditative (or deep listening) thread. Indicative of its lack of coherence as a musically distinct category is this rather wide-ranging emusic.com guide: http://www.emusic.com/lists/showlist.html?lid=716668 that lumps together under the "space music" banner everything from the Roach/Rich axis to Lull/Köner and the Throne of Drones comp to SotL/Windy & Carl and on to Pauline Oliveros and Stuart Dempster. Sure, one can see a rationale for connecting these, and the inner space/outer space duality is well pointed, but for anyone seeking salient musical/compositional features, these are notably errant.

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2008, 10:07:54 AM »
?????

I tell ya, the more i read about them thayre multiple classifications of the same thangs, the more conufused i git.

So if Tangerine Dream "Ziet" is space music, and Brian Eno and Jon Hassels "Possible Musics" is ambient music, and Tomita's "The Bermuda Triangle" is electronic music, and Lois and Bebe Barron's "Forbidden Planet" Soundtrack is an electronic realization, where does one draw the line(s)?  Where does this "Space music" term come from?  Is it like "Space Age", space truckin' type stuff, or is it playing with the space in the room it's being listened to?  I guess what I'm really askin is do we (or me) do space music?  If so, then I've got some other genre page to start pluging it on.

I'm not out to piss anyone off, I'm just confused.  Hell, I didn't know what a synth pad was until I read about it here.  I thought is was a piece of square equipment like a mouse pad that one could move there finger around on and get different sounds.  Silly me.

So... seriously...Space Music from a Compostional Viewpoint.  If you are out to figure out what it is, then you expect to get lost in a sea of coctail trivia (I haven't got to use that one yet, my Diet and Disease professor told me that one).  I think it was Bill Binkerman who mentioned a long time ago about how the level of hostility increases in an indirect proportion with the temperment of the music. (eg:  us ambient guys will get into some heated debates about the music, while thrash/speed/death metal musicians are really a laid back bunch of guys).  If you are out to find out music on the scifi realm, then, man, I don't know.  I mention the Barron's "Forbidden Planet", and then I think of Jerry Goldsmith's Soundtrack to "Planet of the Apes" which I don't think would go anywhere close to what any one here would consider space music.  So then, we get around to early Tangerine Dream, but isn't that really ambient?  hmmm.  I recently go an album of Debusy, the first side was "Tres Nocturnes".  It has to be one of the spaciest things I've ever heard.  No matter how you wish to define it.

I don't think I do space music, although I did do a 6 hour, one song disc called "A Line From A Pale Blue Dot" which if played and sent out over the airwaves through outer space, it would make a line from here to the end of the solar system.  Kinda exploring Carl Sagan's whole Pale Blue Dot thing.  I actually considered it a self-imposed art project, kind of like an electric "Spiral Jetty".

I'll stop now.
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Scott M2

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2008, 10:14:46 AM »
I just scanned the Wiki material. I would have thought that Space Rock would have been a subset of Space Music.
Of course, then we'd be talking Hawkwind!

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #11 on: March 24, 2008, 10:22:13 AM »
Pink Floyd, but they're acid rock.

Where would we place Magma?
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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2008, 10:46:11 AM »
Where would we place Magma?


In one of these:
  ;)

Bill Binkelman

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2008, 01:01:01 PM »
I just scanned the Wiki material. I would have thought that Space Rock would have been a subset of Space Music.
Of course, then we'd be talking Hawkwind!

I'd be more inclined to put space rock with prog...but that's me.

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2008, 01:58:11 PM »
So I asked my son this question this afternoon...
"If I was to ask you about space music, for instance, what piece of music do you think of when you think about flaoting through space, what would it be?"  His reply was "That 'da-da-da-da-da dada dada' thing in 2001."  I laughed and said good answer.
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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #15 on: March 24, 2008, 02:28:43 PM »
Great answer!   

Honestly - it's like describing any type of art form.   Yes there are a few key elements that are essentially generic - but too far beyond that you get into a quandry of descriptions.    It's the same as describing "rock" or "jazz" or "blues" or "new age" or "ambient" or "psychobilly" or "the carpenters" (which surely deserves their own genre description all on their own.)   There are definitely some elements you can use as the "stereotypical" version of any given genre - and then you can spend 2 weeks, 3 days, and 14 hours detailing all the exceptions.   

I do like the general vague description that space music has some feeling of "space" to it - either inner or outer.   But that's just as vague as saying a good dance track is good because you can dance to it.

In any case - it's always fun to debate these important only to people like us topics.   

Oh - Wayne - loved the speed/death metal guys are all laid back comment...

Vaguely electronic (but sometimes quite acoustic) and generally ambient (but I can rip your head off with an industrial noise track if the mood strikes) yours...

John


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michael sandler

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2008, 03:26:51 PM »
I have a tune at my SoundClick page called Illusion #2...


Whatever space music is, this is it.  ;D
Mike S.

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2008, 01:15:37 AM »
My guess would be that space music originated with music composed/performed for planetarium shows during the 70s and 80s.  Of course, there were visionary folks such as Stephen Hill who brought the subgenre to the forefront in the mid-to-late 80s.  I remember when he was broadcasting live in the mid-80s and played Robert Rich's music (then on cassette only) on his show.

Forrest

I've got to admit that this was the first thing I thought of -- Jonn Serrie came to mind.  Also some electronic/sequencer music does it for me.
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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2008, 08:46:00 AM »
this is the ultimate space music  ;D ;D ;D

http://www.archive.org/details/Two_Space_Hours

 :-*

Wayne Higgins

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Re: Space Music from a Compositional Viewpoint
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2008, 12:09:20 PM »
Pretty cool. 
And I guess I'm not doing space music.
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