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1 September 2012



On August 6, 2012, Curiosity, the largest Mars rover ever launched landed on Mars 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 by listening to the music list below titled, MUSIC AND...MARS. 

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 and comment on Facebook. 

There's also a blog article with reflections about the same topic at

Happy listening!

Here's this month's 5 pieces to exercise (pardon the pun) your musical ear...........................


1. Life on Mars

Performed by David Bowie; Written by David Bowie

Lets face it: Bowie really is a poet. I detect elements of Virginia Woolf as he alludes to the realities of our world and questions whether there is anything better existing elsewhere in the lyrics. To me, David Bowie has always had the perfect balance of artistry, individuality, integrity, commercial success and longevity. The images from Curiosity might just answer a few of Bowie's questions about whether the grass is greener on the another planet... or not

2. Mars, the Bringer of War from The Planets Op 32 

Composed by Gustav Holst; Performed by The Royal Festival Orchestra, Conducted by William Bowles 

All these years I thought this work was about planets. Turns out it was, but from an astrological perspective, rather than solely from an astronomical one. Back in 1914 -1916 while Holst was composing this piece, he was reading the book, What is a Horoscope? Turns out he himself was a Virgo. This movement evokes Mars' astrological identity traits of confidence, self-assertion, energy, strength, stamina and passionate impulsiveness through the massive scoring of brass and militarian rhythmic figures heard on the snare drum. The repetition of the percussion motive is unrelenting. Not to mention the ending, which sounds like an aggressive climax of death. Scary stuff.

My sincerest apology to Holst; he evidently disliked incomplete performances of The Planets.

3. Mythodea - Music for the NASA Mission, 2001 Mars Odyssey

Composed by Vangelis; Performed by Kathleen Battle & Jessye Norman (sopranos), London Metropolitan Orchestra, Chorus of the Greek National Opera

When I hear the name, Vangelis, an image of running in slow motion on a beach suddenly appears in my head and the electronic sounds of Chariots of Fire suddenly fill my ears. The problem is, that music will often continue to fill my ears, invading my sleep at 2am, as I suspect it will tonight, now that I've been thinking about it. I didn't know Mythodea at all. Clearly the history of this piece reflects how everything at NASA is about planning for the long term. The piece was composed for the launch of 2001 Mars Odyssey, which is a robotic space craft designed to orbit Mars. But Mythodea premiered in 1993. Mars Odyssey was launched from Earth on April 7, 2001. The opening is eerie and lingers in the one realm of sound, transporting us into the calm stillness of space. Then towering over the orchestra enters the stunning sound of the human voice.

4. Rocket Man
Performed by Elton John; Written by Elton John & Bernie Tauprin 

"Mars aint the kind of place to raise your kids. In fact, it's cold as hell"

Bernie Taupin's lyrics of this song communicate the inner thoughts of a human being pursuing one of our world's newest professions. The empathy we feel for the down to Earth feelings of someone who we perceive as fearless and strong, is reflected perfectly in the music and lyrics. I do wonder how long it will be before man will land on Mars, and, who will compose a song about it.


 5. The Lazy Song 

Performed by Bruno Mars; Written by Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine and K'naan

Well I did say there would often be one song always from a lateral perspective on the month's topic- well this is it!

If it's true according to Christopher Guest in Red, White and Blaine (see Waiting for Guffman reference in this month's blog article) that Nothing Ever Happens on Mars, then Curiosity can afford to be as lazy as he likes. Truth is, I love this song. 

 Bonus track: Interview with Neil Armstrong

The song, Rocket Man, makes me think of Neil Armstrong who passed away on 25 August. This man represented true courage, bravery and sacrifice to me. I was stunned to find out that as a child he suffered from motion sickness! Isn't this normally the reason why people avoid pursuits such as flying, especially into space? Anyway when I look at the Moon, I cannot imagine what it would be like to be on the Moon, looking back at the Earth. Surely, life would never be the same again.

I remember the news bulletin back in May, about an Australian accountant achieving the impossible, by securing an interview with the astronaut turned recluse, Neil Armstrong. Armstrong's words are music to my ears. Don't miss the thoughts and words of this incredible human being. Thanks Neil. RIP.


Thanks for joining the club! Join us next month for another installment of "Music and......" Love and Music from Sophie

This month share your thoughts and suggest your favourite music related to Mars.

Remember to add your comments on our YouTube Channel: AltoProductionsAus

or on our Facebook page: Sophie's Music Club 

To read more about Music and...Mars, visit http://www.altoproductions.com.au/blog/thoughts-and-philosophies-on-life-and-music for this month's blog edition.