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NASA Ames Research Center

Music for Sagan Day Celebration
Sagan Day Banner 1

"The Shore of the Cosmic Ocean" is an original musical score written by Lyford Rome especially for this event. It consists of three musical parts that are themed around humankind's beginning steps out into the universe. It loosely parallels our awakening as a species to our true place in the cosmos and was inspired by Dr. Sagan's role in this exploration. We will share the music progressively as the week unfolds.

Lyford Rome is an educator and musician and lives in San Diego, CA. He has been a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador since 2009, doing volunteer outreach for space science missions and working with students and the general public to promote science education. His background is an eclectic mix of the arts and sciences and he feel passionately that cross curriculum integration stimulates inquiry and exploration. He is honored to be able to share his work in tribute to one of his heroes.

Part 1: Pale Blue Dot

At the onset, humankind looks inward and considers our planet the entirety of existence. We are unaware of how alone our Earth truly is as it moves through the heavens.

This piece was written in response to the hauntingly beautiful image of our planet taken by Voyager 1 at the request of Dr. Sagan. The sparse arrangement reflects the loneliness of our planet against the vastness of space; the repetition the slow progression of time.

Play: Pale Blue Dot (mp3; 11 Mb)

Part 2: "100 AU"

As a species, we begin to realize we may not be alone. We are capable of sending messages outward into the universe, through our transmissions and our space probes. What message do we send? How do we say hello? Is there anyone to answer?

Dr. Sagan's work on the record of greetings from Earth inspired this piece. It starts with an imagining of crossing the termination shock; evocative of the "Symphonies of the Planets" musical series that incorporated Voyager telemetry as a basis for its sounds.

The samples used are from the actual NASA recordings:

Play "100 AU" (mp3; 9 Mb)

Part 3: "Dawn on the Shore...."

"Dawn on the shore" refers to the scientific process through which we emerge from our ignorance to illuminate and explore the universe. The dawn can also be seen as finally realizing our place in the cosmos, both physically and psychologically. Kepler's search for other worlds is such an awakening that extends our horizons, opens our minds and enlightens our spirits.

Play Dawn on the Shore... (mp3; 10 Mb)

This piece was inspired by a quote from Sagan's Cosmos TV series, and also refers to the theme of his book: "The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark."

All three parts combined:

The Shore of the Cosmic Ocean (mp3; 28 Mb)