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Cassini Spacecraft Inspires Music

August 18, 2005|By Mary O'Keefe

The La Cañada Flintridge Community Band performed the West Coast premier of an original composition titled "Cassini's Rings" at Sunday's Music-in-the-Park concert.

JPL Astronomer and a member of the Cassini team Steve Edberg had been told of the musical composition by R. Brad Perry from NASA Langley Research Center. Perry is a member of the Cassini Saturn Observation Campaign outreach program. He heard the composition at a middle school performance on the East Coast. The composer, Michael Oare, is a director of bands at Great Bridge Middle School in Chesapeake, Virginia.

"He was inspired by the Cassini mission," said Edberg who track him down in Virginia and asked if he could perform the music. Oare had written the arrangement for his middle school band and had only performed it once before in Virginia.

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The Cassini spacecraft is sending back data on Saturn, its moons, and its rings. The mission has recently been extended from 2008 to 2010.

The rings are lettered: D, C, B, A, F, G, and E. Oare based the melodic material on this seven-tone row. Edberg was emailed the score, program notes, and a recording of the composition. Edberg then arranged with Oare and conductor of the La Cañada Community Band Sue Hamre to present the piece at Sunday's Memorial Park concert.

"Langley is not far from here so we read about [Cassini] in the papers. I saw a newspaper article about Cassini and that the rings were labeled with the musical alphabet," said Oare. "It [arrangement] kind of lends itself in a minor key so the composition [can be] dark."

Edberg isn't surprised that Cassini was a musical inspiration.

"What science brings back sparks creativity in artist?. A lot of scientists are musicians and artist. Creative people are creative whether they are in science or art," said Edberg.

Edberg states that the Cassini project has been very successful and continues to surprise scientist.

"The biggest surprise for me is Titan," said Edberg. "I knew it would be interesting."

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