Flock of Worlds

In the January 14 installment of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast, Bob Hirshon challenged listeners to write a solar-system-related song, with plans to showcase the songs received in a future podcast.

[UPDATE: My song was featured in the August 14, 2011 episode of the podcast, which I recorded. Pity that the audio quality suffered so much in copying/converting: the version below is much better.]

I decided to give it a go, and at the time of writing sent Bob the link to my mp3 file about 24 hours ago.

Here is my submission. I hope you like it, and please tell me if you do. [download]

Lyrics follow, and then technical info.

The sun’s in the middle of an orbiting swarm
In the distance it’s cold, but closer it’s warm
And humanity’s carried like fleas on a bird
Though the first time you hear it, it may sound absurd.

We’ve always looked above and seen lights in the sky
We’ve been watching them move and wondering why
And we’ve found they’re worlds in our very own flock
With their own sorts of clouds and mountains and rock

These worlds in the sky, there are several sorts
If some are like parrots, some are like hawks
Yeah, the biggest are planets, these are birds of prey
And everyone else stays out of their way.

Mercury and Venus and Earth and Mars
The terrestrial planets, one of them ours
Venus is an oven with a terrible wind
And Mars is frozen, its atmosphere thin.

An asteroid is smaller but no less a part
Of that orbiting swarm that flies through the dark
They’re not like planets that each fly alone
They tend to stick together in a ring of their own.

The greatest of the planets are made of gas
You could drop the earth in like throwing out trash
We’d sink through the clouds then far below
There’s a dense kind of fluid like nothing you know.

Jupiter and Saturn are the first of these
They were known long before old Herakleides
Uranus and Neptune took a while to spy
‘Cos they’re too far away for a natural eye.

And round the big planets where they can’t break free
There are even more worlds for variety
Triton, Enceladus and Ganymede and more
But the moons play havoc with my metaphor.

In the dark, empty fog so far from the sun
It gets harder to see what’s going on
There was one bird flying, that was all we knew
We didn’t find more till 1992.

Now we’ve discovered Pluto’s far from alone
Though its vast horde of friends are mostly unknown
If you hear of a planet club, never mind that
They’re rejects from the kuiper club – too big and fat.

Recording was done via my Behringer C-1U microphone. I recorded two tracks – a music track and a voice track – using Audacity version 1.2.3.

The instrument I used was my Technics SX-P702 electronic piano. The primary simulated instrument was “6-String Piano” (which doesn’t seem to mean anything outside of Technics, but it sounds nice) and the secondary simulated instrument was “Concert Strings” (at a volume of 72 out of 127).

Effects used to enhance the voice track were Amplification and GVerb. GVerb settings were: Input bandwidth: 0.6, Early reflection level: -20 dB. All other fields max. I include this information as much for my own reference as anything else, as it worked well.

Related: As mentioned in a previous blog post, I sponsored the January 12 installment of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast. This was thirty dollars well spent.

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2 Responses to “Flock of Worlds”

  1. ElshaHawk Says:

    Bravo! That is quite educational. :)

  2. Flesh-eating Dragon Says:

    Glad you like it. From what I hear, it’s most likely to be played on the podcast (or at least an excerpt) on either April 8 or May 13.

    There are places in the song where I arguably used too much poetic license. For example, the line about Venus having a terrible wind is true in some senses, but not in the most obvious sense: wind speeds on Venus’s surface are actually very calm. I put it in because (a) Venus does have very fast winds in its upper atmosphere, just not near the ground, and (b) if you interpret “wind” as a poetic way of referring to atmosphere, there are plenty of things terrible about Venus’s wind other than its speed.

    So I decided it was true enough, but you could argue that my justifications are a bit weak. Either way, it’s probably the weakest line in the song.


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