Cosmic Crossings: An Electronic, Space,Ambient, Experimental Music Concert Series

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In 1928, the German composer Robert Beyer published a paper about "Raummusik" (spatial music), which is an entirely different sense of the term. Karlheinz Stockhausen, who became a colleague of Beyer in Cologne in 1953, used the expression "space music" in this sense when describing his early development as a composer: "The first revolution occurred from 1952/53 as musique concrète, electronic tape music, and space music, entailing composition with transformers, generators, modulators, magnetophones, etc., the integration of all concrete and abstract (synthetic) possibilities within sound (also all noises) and the controlled projection of sound in space."[37] In the sense meant here, he stated in 1967, "Several have commented that my electronic music sounds 'like on a different star,' or 'like in outer space.' Many have said that when hearing this music, they have sensations as if flying at an infinitely high speed, and then again, as if immobile in an immense space."

Music historian Joseph Lanza described the emerging light music style during the early 1950s as a precursor to modern space music. He wrote that orchestra conductor Mantovani used new studio technologies to "create sound tapestries with innumerable strings" and in particular, "the sustained hum of Mantovani's reverberated violins produced a sonic vaporizor foreshadowing the synthesizer harmonics of space music."

Jazz artist Sun Ra used the term to describe his music in 1956, when he stated that the music allowed him to translate his experience of the void of space into a language people could enjoy and understand.

Physicist Werner Meyer-Eppler had been inspired by Homer Dudley's 1948 invention of the Vocoder and began in 1951 to work with a device known as a Melochord, in conjunction with magnetic tape recorders, leading to a decade of working at the Studio for Electronic Music (WDR) specializing in "elektronische Musik" using magnetic tape recorders, sine wave generators and serial composition techniques.

In 1969, Miles Davis was introduced to the music of Stockhausen by young arranger and cellist, and later Grammy award winner, Paul Buckmaster, leading to a period of new creative exploration for Davis. Biographer J.K.Chambers wrote that "The effect of Davis's study of Stockhausen could not be repressed for long. ... Davis's own 'space music,' shows Stockhausen's influence compositionally." His recordings and performances during this period were described as "space music" by fans, by music critic Leonard Feather, and by Buckmaster who stated: "a lot of mood changes - heavy, dark, intense - definitely space music."

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Grateful Dead developed a new form of improvisational space music in their extended formless jam sessions during live concerts (which their fans referred to as "Space" though the band did not formally assign that title), and their experimental space music albums such as Aoxomoxoa, and later in the 1980s, Infrared Roses, and Grayfolded. Band member Phil Lesh released experimental space music recording Seastones with computer music pioneer Ned Lagin in 1975, one of the first albums to be issued in the innovative but commercially unsuccessful format SQ-Quadwith. Lagin used in real-time stage and studio performance of minicomputers driving real-time digital to analog converters, prior to the commercial availability of digital synthesizers in the early 1980s.

The Czech-American composer Václav Nelhýbel, released in 1974 a record named Outer Space: Music by Vaclav Nelybel. From the liner notes: "Ingenious use of echo, artificial reverberation and electronic alterations gives the music in this category a weird, spooky futuristic, ‘out of this world’ quality, well-suited to super-natural happenings of any kind. Piano, drums and electronic instruments are used to achieve the strange atmosphere and spatial sounds." Vaclav Nelhybel crafts a supernatural world, describing nebulae, meteors, star clusters and craters on Mars with sounds natural and manipulated to tell the story of cosmic space.

Beginning in the early 1970s, the term "space music" was applied to some of the output of such artists as Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream, due to the transcendent cosmic feelings of space evoked by the sound of the music and enhanced by the use of the emerging new instrument, the synthesizer, and also in part to the "outer space" themes that are apparent in some of their works. These space music explorations diverged from traditional pop-song formats into longer less structured compositions. Following their early influence on the development of space music, Tangerine Dream later produced increasingly rock-influenced works that are not generally described as space music.

In 1971–72, Sun Ra brought his "space music" philosophy to UC Berkeley where he taught as artist-in-residence for the school year, creating notoriety among the students by devoting the second half-hour of each class to solo or band performances. In 1972, San Francisco public TV station KQED producer John Coney, producer Jim Newman, and screenwriter Joshua Smith worked with Sun Ra to produce a 30-minute documentary film, expanded into a feature film released in 1974, entitled Space is the Place, featuring Sun Ra's Arkestra and filmed in Golden Gate Park.

In 1973, KPFA Berkeley, California radio producers Anna Turner and Stephen Hill used the phrase in the title of their local public radio show Music from the Hearts of Space. They developed an innovative segue music assembly technique, cross-mixing "spacey" instrumental pieces to create a sustained mood. The term began to be used more widely when the show was syndicated nationally in 1983. Other US-based radio programmers adopted the term as well, among them, John Diliberto, Steve Pross, and Gino Wong with Star's End, launched in 1976, Frank J. Forest (a.k.a. "Forest") with Musical Starstreams, launched in 1981 and nationally syndicated in 1983, and John Diliberto again with Echoes, launched in 1989.

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