Sacred Science Music Videos: "The Symphony of Science"

Carl Sagan

Guest post by Connie Barlow, 17 October 2009

UPDATE (Oct 19): New website by musician and videoartist JOHN BOSWELL: "The Symphony of Science", with two amazing "sacred science music videos"! BIG NEWS: Boswell's music video that features CARL SAGAN is now YouTube's "#1 TOP-RATED MUSIC VIDEO of all time!

Two days ago I watched my (to-date) all-time favorite music video hit the 1 million view mark on YouTube -- in less than a month. New software, juxtaposed with the brilliant musical artistry of someone who last month was just one of a million humans with musical aspirations, has changed the world of possibilities: possibilities for what young people will choose to listen to in the way of music, for the way science is taught and appreciated, for the prospect of millions of people finally seeing that science itself, artfully presented, can bring one to a sense of mystical oneness with the Universe/God and transform one's outlook forever. If ever any artistic work could help our species take a quantum leap toward more peaceful relations with Earth and with one another, this is it!

Okay, so here is John Boswell's brilliant remix of 3.5 minutes of Carl Sagan's classic Cosmos series, with a pinch of Hawking added to the brew.

UPDATE: Oct 22 Michael Dowd and I posted a new half-hour podcast on this phenomenon, titled "Symphony of Science." 

And if you can pull yourself away from viewing it over and over, just loop it for listening, or download the mp3 into your I-Tunes and then leisurely scroll through the comments on that video page. Wow!

Below are some of my favorite comments that viewers have posted on this video. But first, let me summarize: viewers write that they were brought to tears watching it -- indeed that they can't stop watching it ("addiction" is even mentioned). They also say that it gives them hope for the world, that it makes them want to learn more science, watch Cosmos, read more Sagan. For the young, it offers a shift in musical taste toward more uplifting themes. So here we go, Connie's picks of comments, grouped by category:

1. OMG!

I... I... holy shit. I've been brought to tears. I don't cry for ANYTHING, and I'm tearing up. This is fucking BEAUTIFUL. • Oh god this is epic • OMG! This is brilliant! A brilliant work on two brilliant men... • OMG!!!!!!! this is wonderful!!!!! • This is my new favorite video of all freaking time. Billions and billions of times better than the rest • Why did I just cry? lol • i cried the first time i saw it too • Amazing job! Amazing concept! I'm relatively speechless. • This is the most brilliant video on the web! • this song is fantastic. i cant stop listening • Gah this video is so epic • This is the greatest thing I have ever seen! • There is no other video on the internet that I have watched so many times, or that I have so heartily recommended. • I bloody love this tune - must be the 50th time I've heard it now in a month. • I cannot stop watching this. It's just pure magic. Thank you so much... • I just realized that I've been watching this multiple times nearly every day. Can you say addicted? • I am addicted! The chorus and the video that accompanies it just mesmerises me • I must admit. I have to listen to this song at least once a day. I need the fix. • You aren't alone. Perhaps this is some strange new drug. If we both start having the shakes, let's start a support group (in which we just listen to this over and over again). • WHOOP AW AW • science+remix=the most beautiful song ever. • The best video I've ever seen on YouTube.• Well i've listened to this track sooo much that it now plays in my dreams. A beautiful song, well constructed, much like the universe ;) • i think i've watched this vid a hundred times over the past few days, and it's always like watching it for the first time, pure brilliance. • ive watched it 3 times in the last 10.5 minutes. i plan to continue indefinitely. this is the most need to be heard song in the whole of earth • I felt silly for listening to this 5-10 times a day and posting it everywhere I could so others could enjoy it, but I have to say that reading the comments here make me realize I am not alone. • I can listen to this repeatedly for ages, amazing • Outstanding!!! I have been listening to this through my Iphone while driving to and from work for three days now. 30 min drive times 6 makes 180 min divided by 3 min.......I have watched this about 60 times.• favoriting into oblivion. • I've listened to this several times every day since I first heard it on 9/26. If I've missed a day, it's only because it's replaying in my head...over and over and over. • This gave me goosebumps. It couldn't be any more perfect. • I've never before fallen in love with a youtube video before. • This is positively amazing. It pretty much made my life. • I still can't go a day without watching this. Get all misty eyed. • This quite possibly may be the most magnificent remix/montage that I've ever seen. • That was the most moving and intense video I have ever seen on youtube. It made my hairs stand up. This is worth more than 5 stars. • I can not believe how much this video made me feel. This is absolutely stunning, incredible. you captured some of the best stuff from the cosmos and made it all flow musically, i wish carl could hear it. He's totally my hero... this song made me cry. i'm totally a sissy, but a sissy who loves to hear about the universe and the cosmos, and music equally. together, it was the most refreshing thing i've ever heard. Fantastic. 5 stars. :):):) • That was the most moving and intense video I have ever seen on youtube. It made my hairs stand up. This is worth more than 5 stars. • Make sure to check out the second vid, Symphony of Science - We Are All Connected". Just as insanely amazing!!!! • this is the best song ever, have on my ipod and cant stop listening to it, two great scientist and good music, wow just amazing • Fantastic, I'll be singing this for ages now. And I'll not be explaining what the hell I'm doing, either ...everyone should just know! Whoop! • This is soo g00d. I listen to it often. I've it on my mp3 player.... walking under a full moon and clear sky is's always beautiful. • Make billions and billions more, melodysheep! • This is the best video I have ever seen about anything. • Ive never heard anything so awesome.....Not a sunrise...but a galaxy rise....with 400 billion suns.....gah theres no words. • I love this song so much. the fist time I heard it I listened to it on repeat for (no shit) about 5 hrs straight. I guess that's because Carl's voice never gets old.

2. Canonizing Carl

Carl Sagan is the most enlightening person to ever live. • This is poetry and musical intelligence of another dimension! • I've never found someone explaining science in such poetic ways at times. Carl Sagan forever. • Carl Sagan: humanitys most perfect earthly ambassador! he's always so awed by existence... • I would 100% want this man to represent man kind. no one else is so perfect as him. • I'd like to transmit this through a wormhole so Sagan can receive it in the past, and have an idea just how much impact he had. • Absolutely amazing! Sagan will live forever! • Carl Sagan changed my life for the beter in oh so many ways!!! He is one of the greatest minds in human history. Who ever hasn't read COSMOS its a must... And just than see the series ;) • Carl Sagan is one of my all-time heros. Its amazing to me that our society worships empty-headed sports star dolts while men like him did a thousand times more for humanity than putting a ball through a hoop. • This is an awesome headtrip. I really wish I had met him. I met Hawking but Carl is the one who made me dream of bigger things for the first time. I sure miss him. • If anyone would be deemed the title of "God" Carl Sagan definitely would be it. • yea i agree Sagan > Jesus, Mohammad, David & Budah combined • Wonderful video - it will inspire a new generation to love Carl. • I refer to him as St. Carl, also St Stephen, even though he's not fully dead yet • The media is the message - We miss you Carl. • Carl Sagan was a Timelord. • Rest in peace Dr. Sagan, you have been an inspiration to me, an entire generation and beyond... • Sagan had the mind of a scientist and the soul of a poet. That's why he was such an amazing teacher of popular science. His voice had a musical cadence that stuck in your mind; just like the chorus of this "song". • Watching this was a very spiritual experience. Carl Sagan, humanity needed you to be immortal :( • Carl Sagan could describe the inner workings of a toaster and I'd be fascinated. 5 stars • This man is my Hero!

3. Shifting Musical Tastes

wow..!! as a sund designer, composer and music producer, i can just say SHIT!! that work with the vocal timestreching must have been som really hard work.. BIG UP! • This is the greatest song ever constructed in the history of mankind. Auto-tune was created for the the sole intention of making this video possible. I listen to it about a dozen times a day. The internet just got better. • I normally listen to heavy metal but this is pretty damn great. :D • truly has infected my playlist hardcore. • This song is awesome!!!! good job man!!!! I don't know much about carl sagan or even hawkins, but this song rocks! • The only thing I've missed since leaving the community of religious believers for good is the music, the music that expresses wonder and awe. It exists; here it is. No more rationalizations. • I have never loved a song as much as I love this song. • when he say the sky calls to us he sound like sound wave from gen 1 transformers • Oh. Shit. Daft Punk eat your heart out. That was incredible. • i've listen to this like a thousand times and it never gets old. • Bunches of people are saying they're putting this on the iPod. • Boys, we just got another hymn for the church. • maybe I'm just too big of a science nerd, but there is something freakishly addictive about it. I haven't read any of Sagan yet or seen much of his show, but I'm already obsessed with him because of this. I want to read all of his books someday. • It's almost as if Sagan's message is being subliminally implanted into your brain via the music & the tone achieved through the auto-tuning of his voice. • have you entered this for a Webby yet? Do you need donations to help with the entry fee? Let us know!!! • What's really interesting to me is that although this speaks through the vehicle of science and cosmology, the manner in which the artist has "tuned" the spoken voices reminds me a great deal of "plain song" used in religious sermons, where the celebrant is sing-speaking passages from scripture.• You made our days, believe me, and our students here are all over the moon about it. We are at a particle physics lab (accellerator physics) in Johannesburg, South Africa. The vids have spread like wildfire. • I heard this a week ago and a bit ago, from then on every silent minute in my life has been filled with the chorus. I hear it in my SLEEP. I think its safe to say I adore this song. • Brilliant editing, Melodysheep... You just made Stephen Hawking sing and it sounded good! I'm in awe... Beautiful man... Beautiful. • Most awesome. Never knew how bad ass Carl Sagan was spittin the mic. And Hawkings laying down the law in his cameo...Makes you feel small and big at the same time....Hip hop needs something new and these guys are the answer to the big answer. Most creative, great video, my favorite please make another one. Thanx • Happy Birthday to Carl and John Boswell, the greatest composer of his generation. • Coast To Coast AM used this as bumper music tonight!! Actually, the Midnight bumper [Nov 21, 2009] • I watch this every day... it centers me. Beautiful. • I have made only one other comment in my entire history of youtube but I have to say, this is outstanding and more than worth taking the time to say. 

4. Opening to ScienceIt really highlights just how beautiful science can be. It actually made me want to change my major to something a bit more scientific. • I've had this on endless repeat for a week or so now. Science should always be this lyrical. • watched all 13 hours of cosmos over the last 2 days because of this. • I haven't found music that matches the awe and inspiration that science gives me, especially from my favorite cosmologists... until now. I'm speechless. • the best way to learn science is to associate it with music! • "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." - BEST SENTENCE I'VE EVER HEARD! XD • I've watched this at least twenty times already, and I'm trying to memorize it perfectly. I'm going to show this to my students. It's an art class, but the concepts of interrelation and wonder are so incredibly synthesized in this beautiful creation of a song! • i watch this everyday before starting my endeavors in studying that awesome subject: SCIENCE! I was starting to get jaded about it, but then Cosmos came in on Netflix and suddenly I remember why I- or anyone else, for that matter- ever started or attempted to pursue scientific inquiry. Now if I can only get GOOD at it!!!! • Going to watch Cosmos back to back now.... • it still is #1 top rated music videos globally of all time! rightly so! big props to the youtube community! and not even a creationist spam bot can take this away! keep rating guys! • If I ever win the lottery I hope to employ you to turn The Cosmos in its entirety into a series of epic and beautiful songs. • What would it take to get Melodysheep to do this to the entire COSMOS series? • so many professors ive had have said things from episodes from cosmos almost word for word its funny. My prof did the flatland thing almost the same way as in carl sagan yesterday hah • Hulu has all the "Cosmos" episodes! Go watch! Sagan is eternal. • GoogleVideo also has COSMOS in full hour blocks, no commercials and usually better quality than what you find on YouTube. Hulu's COSMOS is unavailable to countries like Canada. • This should be required listening in school • Wow, I didn't know who the hell Carl Sagan was just two days ago, my friend turned me onto the show "Cosmos" and then this vid. I JUST CAN'T STOP WATCHING!!!!! • This video has become a sublime addiction for me. I showed it to my 5 year old boy for the first time this morning & now he asks me to watch the "space guy". He loves it. Man, I'm telling you, there's truly something about this video - this message that is deeply resonating with almost everyone who watches it. And it's not cause "it's a cool tune" or "it sounds good" or it's a "neat message". It's something way deeper - way more profound. It's almost a catalyst for a shift in consciousness.• I am sending links to all my friends, I have a particle physicist breathing over my shoulder and going "woop" and dancing. • personally speaking -- I love science AND I love God. and I love Carl Sagan as well. • These songs should be on a CD on sale EVERYWHERE! Even schools, because then schools would be loved by people my age JUST FOR PLAYING THIS MUSIC! • if science was like this in school, I would have EASILY gotten an A+  5. Hope

i was feeling pretty depressed tonight until i watched this. • Something about watching and hearing Sagan makes you feel like you're not alone in this world in many aspects if that makes sense to wimc. He gave so much hope during a scary time  • I feel so calm when I hear this, and when I hear Carl • Fuck terrorists and all the new world order haters! we will make it! • The earth is where we make our stand! Huzzah! • Man, yeah! After watching something like this, you wonder how anyone can do something like kill another person. The fact that we even exist is such an awesome chance occurance, and then for someone to take existence away from someone else is the most disgusting thing ever. • I hope I'll live to see that dawn. This is awesome. • This part made me cry a little bit... "A still more glorious dawn awaits / Not a sunrise, but a galaxy rise / A morning filled with 400 billion suns / The rising of the milky way" • Epic brilliance. Science and religion can work hand-in-hand. God reveals to us in time about universe secrets. • Ive lissend to this song 50 times or more, I never get tired on it. Somehow it reminds me of the potential of the humabn spices, and not just about the negative sides thats being feed on uss from television every day. • Something brilliant about humanity, finally... instead of all those junk featured videos showing the worst of our kind • This song gives me hope in humanity. • We are all most likly guilty of becoming jaded and feeling bland about life. This song makes you feel like it's not to late, like their really is a more glorious dawn headed our way. • This video demonstrates the potential union of science and religion, they are not mutually exclusive, but in fact can feed one another if we can remove blind ignorance from the equation, both the religious and the scientifically minded can claim that the root of their interest in the world is it's beauty and complexity. if we can start there perhaps the dialogue can eventually progress rather than being stunted in an abyss of absurdity and ignorance. • 5 stars, really moving, like an anthem of what I believe in. A still more glorious dawn does await, and we will one day venture to the stars. Per ardua ad astra. • Don't lost faith in the species. Take heart that to make mistakes is inherently human, and that the relatively asymptomatic progress of human society and civilization is indicative of the desire for cosmic citizenship (something espoused by Sagan himself). Constantly question world leaders, be they political, spiritual, or self-deigned. We (will be) known among the stars by our poems, not our corpses. • No matter how bad things ever get for me..this video makes it all good. • Carl Sagan quote: "A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths. Sooner or later, such a religion will emerge." • Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone thought like Carl Sagan did? There would be no reason for conflict, hate in Religion, hate in atheism, hate in anything! • Carl is still teaching us all these years later. Hope springs eternal that he always will -- humanity survives if we heed his messages -- if not.....

Postscript by Connie: The good news is that musician/video-artist John Boswell is working on more such music videos celebrating science. (In an email to me he said he is looking for other "lyrical passages by excited scientists"). I am enjoying personally giving him my recommendations for video feeds and themes. • Oct 18, 4 a.m, at 1,115,017 views. Yesterday I discovered the "Data and statistics" menu arrow on the YouTube page, clicked it and found that this one-month old YouTube video is now the #1 Top-Rated Video of all time and the #1 Top-Rated MUSIC video of all time! • Check out the blog of one of Carl's son, Nick Sagan, who writes, "John Boswell over at Colorpulse Music is a mad genius, sampling both Cosmos and Stephen Hawking'sUniverse series into three minutes and thirty-four seconds of pure, concentrated awesomeness. Love it, love it, love it. Dad would have loved it, too."