Sex in popular music

Erotica, an album that explores music and sexSongs about sex are nothing new. Prince may have seemed provocative singing about oral sex, but he was just following a centuries-old tradition. Ancient Greek and Roman poetry could be quite explicit. Bawdy songs have enjoyed great popularity from at least the Renaissance on. From the early days of wax cylinder phonograph recordings in the 1890s, one can find spoken word curios worthy of a parental advisory sticker. And for those who think that “freaking” is new, the 17th century sarabande — a popular dance considered “merry and lewd because it is performed with movements of the body which are indecent” — was just one among several erotically-tinged dances that were outlawed in some places. Continue reading →

Music of the spheres

Crab NebulaThe Greek philosopher Pythagoras, who lived during the fifth century B.C., theorized that the planets and stars moved according to mathematical equations. Each planet, by its orbit, produced a note based on its distance from the earth, which he believed was the center of the universe. Like the mathematical subdivisions of a vibrating string, which produce specific pitches, the musical notes of the planets in motion produced a symphony: the Music of the Spheres.

The planets do indeed produce music, though not quite in the way that Pythagoras believed. Each object in the universe produces radio waves, and while there is no sound in the vacuum of space — sound needing air in which to propagate waves — the radio waves can be translated into sound, just as we listen to a radio. I’ve taken a variety of sounds from space — pulsars and sounds generated by Earth, Jupiter and Saturn — and created a contemporary “Music of the Spheres.” All sounds are purely from objects in space; I’ve added nothing else. Click on the player below to listen. Continue reading →