Music – Space-Earth duet

In My Humble Opinion (IMHO) is a section devoted to reviews of books, movies and music with a flying theme or contain references to aviation.

Astronaut and rock star in first Space-Earth music duet

By Paul Jansen

In Steven Spielberg’s now classic 1977 movie “Close Encounters of The Third Kind”, extra-terrestrials make contact with humankind through a five-tone musical phrase in a major scale.

One thing leads to another and by the end of the show, man and alien have met and made friends.

Space and Earth did another – but this time real – duet last week. The music that linked the two came from the Earth this time: specifically the German composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

Colonel Catherine Coleman, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration astronaut, played a Bach piece on the flute in the International Space Station while rock band Jethro Tull star Ian Anderson accompanied her live from the city of Russian city of Perm, a space centre.

The event was to celebrate Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s space flight on April 12, 1961, making him the first man in space.
Colonel Coleman and Anderson played Bourrée in E minor. This was a song written for the lute by Bach and which was in the Jethro Tull hit album, Stand Up, which made its debut in 1969 when Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon.

The colonel, an accomplished flautist, is a fan of Anderson’s and even packed one of his flutes in her luggage for her six-month stint in the space station.

The video of the duet was posted on the NASA website. Colonel Coleman makes quite a dramatic entrance, floating upside down before the camera. After a short introduction, she starts the piece, the fifth movement from the Suite in E minor for Lute, and Anderson joins her midway.

After the performance, Anderson says: “Thanks Col. Catherine Coleman in the International Space Station,” Anderson said following the performance. “We should remember that today’s cosmonauts, scientists, and astronauts are still every bit the rocket heroes they were 50 years ago.”

Beatles legend Paul McCartney would have approved of the collaboration. The 18th century Bourrée in E minor inspired him to write the song “Blackbird” which was re-introduced to a new generation by the cast of “Glee”, the blockbuster TV series of a musically-talented but socially-inept group of high school students.

And another English musical export, Led Zeppelin, incorporated it in their song “Heartbreaker”. This heavy metal group would also have appreciated the Anderson-Coleman Earth-Space duet between a fellow rock star on the ground and the amateur performer spinning in heavy metal 200 miles above.

Copyright: Paul Jansen 2011. All rights reserved.

Which songs do you take with you on your cross-country flights?

One Response to Music – Space-Earth duet

  1. Roger lee says:

    Over the rainbow

    Some where over the rainbow, blue DIQ flies.
    When I first took my aircraft, blue DIQ, up, that is the song I sang.

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