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1 September 2012

Music and...Mars

WELCOME TO THE SECOND EDITION OF MUSIC AND.....!

Life is Music. Music is Life. 
So music relates to everything in life. Or does it?
Each month join the conversation of the role music plays in all our lives.

On August 6, 2012, Curiosity, the largest Mars rover ever launched landed assisted by a rocket powered sky crane for the first time in history. Man has demonstrated his curiosity of the Red Planet through film, cartoons, books and of course, music. This month release your inner martian and read on for this edition of MUSIC AND...MARS. 

There's a monthly blog article AND a guide to expand your listening by joining Sophie's Music Club.
On the first day of each month 5 pieces connecting music to a part of our lives will be suggested on a listening list.
This month's music has been added to our very own AltoProductionsAus channel on YouTube.
So share your thoughts on YouTube or join us on Facebook. 
 Happy listening!


My first encounter with the term 'Mars' took place in the confectionery aisle of my local supermarket. There before me beamed the bold red title, 'Mars', against a black background, which perhaps was intended to evoke a colour association of the red planet against the dark infinite void of the universe. Or, perhaps not. The slogan, "A Mars a day helps you work rest and play" became my subconscious daily affirmation which I lived by diligently. Although some days, depending on which concert I had to perform, it sometimes became twice or even thrice. I am deeply indebted to this concoction of milk chocolate and flowing caramel as I attribute many successful music exams to its delicious support. My teeth feel less favorably about this. But that's another story...

Amidst my dietry dependence upon the Mars bar came a new angle on the term 'Mars': the launch of the controversial book, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. For such a bold statement that men are from Mars, one wonders where the cliched image of the green martian came from? With a film proposed to be made by 20th Century Fox, it will be interesting to see if recent footage from the Red Planet will serve as the home of 'Men' in the film. I wonder whether I should send the Hollywood producers a link to Sophie's Music Club for suggestions for the soundtrack?

I find it truly remarkable that a machine built on Earth can be guided to a planet where no man has been before (as misleadingly stated in John Gray's book) that is so far away. It took 8 months for the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory Rover (MSL) to reach Mars from Florida. Actually that's often as long as it feels it takes for me to get from one end of the city to the other, especially when the football is on. The vehicle is roving around taking pictures. But what I wanted to know is, is Curiosity recording sound? If Curiosity encounters a creature equivalent of a bird or cat, are we going to be able to download the Mars bird tweet as our new ringtone? My knowledge of space doesn't reach far beyond the saying: "My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas". I memorized this saying in order to remember the order of planets from the Sun, just in case it was a question when I was a contestant on Millionaire Hot Seat. Sadly I should have been memorizing facts about Formula One drivers instead. But what I do know about space is, it's something to do with the atmosphere that's different to Earth which means that people on Mars would freeze. With this different atmosphere, I want to know what music sounds like on Mars! And if there are martians, or other living creatures equivalent to humans, have they managed they created their own music? I always laugh when I hear the eerie sounds of weird computers that are somehow meant to evoke the sounds on Mars. Lets hope that Curiosity will satisfy my curiosity once and for all. 

Just last week I watched a hilarious mockumentary called "Waiting for Guffman", starring comedian, Christopher Best. The story follows the fictional town of Blaine who are producing a musical about their own history. In 1946, the town was put on the map due to a visit by a flying saucer from Mars, so there's a special song created called "Nothing Ever Happens on Mars": content evidently devised following the conversations over dinner with Martians. Priceless. And if it's truly the case that nothing ever happens on Mars, let's hope Curiosity doesn't get bored, but gets busy with recording sound.

Last but far from least, last month we lost someone who really was one of a kind. The first man to walk on the Moon. I am fascinated by people who see the word possible in the word impossible. Such a man was Neil Armstrong. Yet what made him even more admirable was his sense of humility and lack of ego. I wish I could have asked him what space sounded like. 
Vale Neil Armstrong.