New Music Video Celebrates Science—and tops the charts

Symphony of Science

On October 15, "A Glorious Dawn" music video hit the 1 million view threshold on YouTube and thereby launched Carl Sagan's new singing career. Yes, SINGING career. New software (Auto-tune) made this possible, and now the younger generations are experiencing Carl as electronica music star. As evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson comments on this phenomenon, this video "shows how science can become more potent when fused with the arts."

As of October 19, "A Glorious Dawn" has become the #1 Top Rated (All Time) Music Video on YouTube, and it is the #2 Top Rated Video of any genre. That same day, musician/video-artist John Boswell launched his encore, "We Are All Connected", which features astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson singing the title line, the late Richard Feynman grooving on drums, Bill Nye the Science Guy rapping for the universe, while Carl weaves in and out of the video, his resonant voice singling him out as lead singer for this four-man band, deftly served by the back-up musicians of John Boswell, John Boswell, and John Boswell.

 PREDICTION: Within a few months, this newest emergent novelty in evolution, which John Boswell calls "Symphony of Science" (and which is, in fact, the symbiotic union of science with the arts) will be seen as doing more for turning young people onto science than all the textbooks ever published. More, it feeds their souls. As one YouTube commenter wrote, "No matter how bad things ever get for me, this video makes it all good."

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

After you watch the videos (if you can pull yourself away from that activity; many people report becoming addicted to watching or listening to them), do check out the blog my wife, Connie Barlow, wrote on this phenomenon, titled "Sacred Science Music Videos: Symphony of Science". She's been communicating with the artist for the past several weeks, and he has appreciated her suggestions for more scientists to recruit into the music industry. As he told her, "I'm looking for lyrical passages by excited scientists."Connie has also been sifting through the some 5,000 posted comments on YouTube as they emerged, and has used her blog to share about a hundred of these, sorted into five categories: (1) OMG, (2) Canonizing Carl, (3) Shifting Musical Tastes, (4) Opening to Science, (5) Hope. Here are a half dozen comments on that first video:• "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." • "I normally listen to heavy metal but this is pretty damn great." • "watched all 13 hours of cosmos over the last 2 days because of this" • "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!!!!!" • "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." • "Boys, we just got another hymn for the church."

I'll paste in some of the comment highlights that Connie has culled from the ongoing comments posted on YouTube:

1. New Art Form - love it when someone invents a new kind of art.  Awesome. •  It's a science supergroup! •  Carl Sagan's words are beautiful on their own. But when you add your music to it, it is absolute magic. •  The chorus sends a shiver down my spine. MelodySheep, I think you guys have created a new genre of music with these great videos! Science Rock maybe? • The guys over at symphony of science really know what their doing, Major props to you guys. (Response: Yeah, you'd think so when you consider how much work went into this. But it is just one guy, a very brilliant and talented one guy named John Boswell. Makes it even more amazing when you think about it! • Holy crap this is amazing. •  God this is so beautiful. •  It's a form of "gospel" music, preaching the gospel of reason. • i have been watching this for three days and i cant stop...this is amazing! • "billions and billions of stars, billions and billions of specks": It's incredible how our brains are seemingly wired for music. put something to music and it becomes embedded in our minds • i dj electro music and consider myself a thinking individual i LOVE these videos and will be including the music in my sets from now on. • My friends and I (all scientists) listen to them daily! • more more! please make more! • love your science vids man... hope musicians take your example and make more science based music. • I've watched this so many times and it never gets old. I love the words that John Boswell has so carefully selected to feature, the speakers he's chosen, the way it's so beautifully edited together, but man-o-man, the music he's created to hold it all together is equally awesome! Try closing your eyes and just focusing on the music. What a master! • This is the single most beautiful thing I have ever seen on youtube; and possibly in any audiovisual medium. • This blows MTV music away! • Somehow, I view this as a very beautiful prayer of thanks to God. It is beautifula and I have listened to and watched it many times. I love it. I feel it should be the future of music and certainly the start a genre. • I've been listening to this and "Glorious Dawn" over and over since I discovered them eight days ago. I downloaded both MP3s, and I repeatedly listen to them in the car, when I can't get to a computer. I can't get enough! Thank you for combining two of my passions - science and music - into something so beautiful, in a way I will never be able to duplicate. • I can't express my gratitude with words to whoever created this! • I have two opinions. 1: brilliant, a testament to how science can enlighten people to a deeper understand of life and the universe. 2: a testament to how you don't actually need to know how to sing to produce a gold selling album so long as you have access to pro-tools. • It makes me so glad that you're making more of these! The way you deliver these scientific and philosophical epiphanies through such haunting and beautiful music is uplifting! • omg this is so unique made them all sing...omg....and Carl Sagan singing as well....this was amazing...utterly amazing...thank you for the post! • The way Melody sheep blends Nye's voice into Sagan's is so impressive. Listen for it just before Carl "sings" "The beauty of a living thing..." • this song is deep... i cant see this getting boring.... the lyrics hold so much meaning... watching sagan is so surreal... then u throw in the enthusiasm of feynman and tyson... wow • I'm addicted to this video!! i cant stop watching it! help!

 2. Appeal to the Young and Middle America  our science teacher showed us this video it is awsome!!!!!! We beg our teacher everyday after copying our notes to show us this video . I love it! •  This is awesome! 5* & faved! •  dude. that was fucking amazing.• "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself" is really profound, I've never looked at it like that. Needless to say it gave me an atomic boner • (by PunkCabaretFTW: This is actually my new favorite song) •  On the subway today I heard someone singing the Bill Nye part. Your reach is far Mr. MelodySheep! (MeldodySheep is the artist's YouTube name) • Bill Nye was my childhood science teacher. I love him forever. Amazing song. I love what you've chosen as lyrics. deGrasse Tyson's bit is my favorite, because that's exactly how I feel. • Damn, Sagan sounds beautiful. Pardon me as I wipe the cosmic dust from my eyes...• This rules. I would buy an entire album of this stuff. Like hymns for empiricists. • Thank you for brightening my day. I think I'm going to show this to my science teacher. • Awesome job man. You know, I've noticed that with these science oriented autotunes when I first listen to them I think they're pretty meh but I listen again and again and by the third time I'm absolutely hooked. I've been listening to this one on my ipod all day. • Holy crap, Bill Nye the Science Guy! Anywho, freakin awesome video/song! • I've memorised the whole song. I can sing along to it, and it keeps coming back to me throughout the day. I downloaded the mp3 from his site. • i`m the same way, too. I find myself singing under my breath "..its all reallly there, reallly reallly there.." • now people hate science alot in school its just boring but i think if i was taught by some of these guys it would be pretty cool and u can tell how much they love science  • holy crap i freekin love this • lmao omg this is Amazing lmao iLove it ...lmao ahh man  Shouts to Bill Nye The Science Guy...dude brings back soo many memories of my childhood =] Stryze • lol my teacher shode this to us on friday



 3. Science and Spirituality - "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." *mind blown!* • Some people like to think of science as cold and emotionless, but watching this, you know it's not true. • This video, and its music, just enhanced the way I feel the way about nature. • I don't care who you are, what you believe, or where you are's very humbling to realize that we are all made of the same stuff as the stars and planets. Keep these video's coming! • We are STARSTUFF. The chill that runs down my spine every time he says that is incredibly addictive. • So moving. What beauty. I have been watching and learning from Cosmos (on Hulu) because of you, melodysheep. Thank you! • Never thought I'd see the day that physics was being used to create inspirational music. Both of your songs have been amazing and I hope you do more. :) • As beautiful as the first, both made me cry • We atheists are often falsely accused of worshipping science or nature. But melodysheep, if you keep making science and nature this beautiful and emotional, I'm going to have to start. :) • Brought a tear to my eye. I'm just a speck, just a speck. Wonderful to have a science-related spiritual experience. •  it's been a while since a song moved me spiritually. i never thought it could be done with science. this was beautiful. i need to get this in my iPod!!! • I remember when I was a child, my math teacher showed Carl Sagan's series. A new world was born that day in my mind. Thank Carl's Cosmos! And Thank this video. A searcher from Hungary!! • I've been exposed to almost all of this multiple times. But arranged like this, they feel like the verses of a hymn. • "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself" - that borders on the mystical! • I love this song because it just keeps making me think of how amazing all of these things are "magically" put together to make things such as stars, plants, and humans. • "We're made of star stuff" That line alone really gets me :) • wow i cant explain how this video has enlightened me! i love how the vocals are synthesized to the beat! i also like the msg of this video GO BILL NYE • This music mix is so enlightening and yet at the same time leaves me feeling humbled and in awe. • Man, I enjoy watching Feynman talk about physics. I envy the joy he gets when talking about it. • "We're made of star stuff" ... so incredible • I keep watching this every couple of hours. It's outstanding. I've heard Sagan's quote before about we being a way for the cosmos to know itself, and it's the most poetic truth I've ever heard. Combined with this presentation that truth has even more impact for me. It's more elegant than religious myth, that's for sure. • How does a guy of his tender young age manage to develop a spirit and soul deep enough to create a beautiful project like this? Must have come this way many times before. • This is epic beyond proportions. If this doesn't make you think about our existence in the universe, I don't know what will. • I'm more emotionally moved by Carl Sagan, etc. & these 2 videos than I ever have been by Catholicism or all the other man-made faiths I've studied. Great job, once again, melodysheep! • [superjew1000 asked this Q] "Does any one know what he is talking about when he says weve traveld this way beofore/We are made of stars???" [to which ApparitionsMetal responded] "all the elements that make up the universe have been converted from helium and hydrogen by nuclear fusion in stars, and we are made of these elements (carbon etc.) so we are made of old star stuff" • All hail Carl Sagan! "We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." He summed up in one brief sentence on everything I have been trying to comprehend for years. • I evangelized Carl Sagan and this video to 3 strangers yesterday. Two of them were Mormons who stopped me on the street. Heh. They never saw it coming. :-) "Have you accepted Carl Sagan as your intellectual savior?" • I think the coolest thing in this video is when Feynman mentions how nature is so complex that it was able to create conscious living things that are capable of being conscious for the universe that we evolved from. That's what Sagan means when he says "we are ways, for the cosmos to know itself." • I actually got affected by this song. Science is beautiful. • when everything around the idea of "i" ends.. so does depression.. Once you're consumed with unbounded altruism you become one with the universe and let it flow within and without you. • mystic christians approve of this video because - Biblical texts should be interpreted metaphorically. Video faved. • OMG LOVE YOU LOVE YOU. watching cosmos right now. science is love (= • "I know that the molecules in my body are traceable to phenomena in the cosmos. That makes me want to grab people and say: Have you heard this?!" I frequently get thoughts like this where I just stop whatever I am doing and think about just how amazing it is. Science I love you! • Wonderful, simply wonderful. Truly a religious hymn. Made me kinda ecstatic. Om mani padme hum.



 4. I Cried - makes me want to cry • Makes me wanna hug someone for some odd reason... • So beautiful. Touching. Makes me want to hug the Universe • I cried watching this. We are so little and think so much ourselves sometimes...• Absolutely brilliant! It makes the heart feel so full, it breaks wide open! • I didn't expect it to make me cry. Damn you cheesy piano and gut wrenching truths. Damn you! • I just cried like a baby watching this. • The last part made me cry, knowing that Carl Sagan died • Keep these songs going! You have brought me to tears 2 times. I just walked outside and saw the most beautiful sunset, Carl was there. • this is most beautiful thing i have ever seen and tears are flowing down my cheeks right now • I didn't cry when I shot myself in the hand. I didn't cry when my most loyal and loved pet died. I didn't cry at grandma's funeral. I get teary eyed every single time I see this... the message is priceless; universal. Thank you science folk and music guy... much as I hate to give credit, you've done well. • This is a beautiful, beautiful video. My eyes well with tears when he says "We're made of star stuff". Every time I hear that phrase, I get shivers. • All I can say is that what you are doing here,with your love of science and auto-tune, is so beautiful. Maybe it sounds lame but, I cried when I listened to Glorious Dawn the first few times. Not balling but y'know, all teary eyed. I still kinda choke when I do.. :) This one is growing on me too. It's like you take all of these incredible thoughts from these incredible people and create something totally new... • Oh man, that made me cry. Really beautiful. An atheist's religious experience ;'-)


5. Hope - How desperately we need this story to catch on worldwide! And what a great step this is to make that happen! • I sometimes lose hope, living in these times. But there are those whose voices are constant and strong and those who recognize that and are inspired to create. Renews hope for me.• Such good medicine for what ails us as a species. • but see thats why we are so significant. or as carl once said "if you disagree with a man, let him live. For in 100 billion galaxies, you will not find another [...] we are made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself". that makes our lives very significant, however brief and subtle they may be. • This is incredible and inspiring. As an electrical engineering student, it makes me want to look at what is around me and available, and go and create something totally new and useful. • oh and what i REALLY LOVE about all the people in these videos is i think they are the true equivilents of prophets and these men are overjoyed in their knowledge not depressed. that gives a great deal of hope! • I'm an English teacher, but freely concede that science teachers are more important. If the world and all of us tiny little people on it are going to live and thrive, it will come from science, some kid that really gets motivated to learn and to explore what we already know and build upon it. Neither Einstein nor Sagan were born into the position of being great thinkers, but they were, so no one knows where the next one will come from, we have to encourage everyone. • melodysheep, you are a wonderful example. I see that you studied economics, of all subjects. And you produced this...If all of us in our various professions can go through life with this same amount of soul and reverence for the elegant truths of nature ("grabbing people on the streets" whenever possible -- "Have you heard this??"), maybe our species will be alright. :) • My sincere sincere thanks for the time and heart it took to make this - best pair of youtube vids EVER (i.e., the other video by symphonyofscience). Donation on its way. Imagine a world where stuff like this replaced what passes for music today. If only the other 99.9% of the world would stop to think about it, we could even get the right answer to Carl's big IF ("If we survive....") • We are all why is everything screwed up? Think of one thing you can do to improve the planet - then do it! Together we can make a difference! • There's so much more for humans to do than watch sit-coms and wrestling... • can you see the happiness in their eyes as they do their work and make a living?

most people cant even dream of having a job or career that is not only a good paying job but a job people enjoy. i havent seen one person in my town that enjoys their job as much as these guys do. its something to strive for!Let's make Carl Sagan proud of us! • Carl Sagan put the universe in living rooms around the world and in a language that anyone could understand and appriciate. I can safely and proudly say Dr. Sagan's work saved my life. He gave me more hope... than any god ever could. 


6. Wholesome Heroes -  This video is awesome. possibly the greatest music video of all time...this is better than anything ive seen on mtv in the past decade • loved the tune, the imagery, and the heros (and yes these 4 men are heroes) • I love Carl Sagan. • I love Neil deGrasse Tyson, he's awesome. • Awesome work! I love the Neil deGrasse Tyson comment about wanting to grab people in the street. If science doesn't do that to you, you really don't get it! • I love these videos. Brilliant work. I think my favourite line is: "That makes me want to grab people in the street and say, have you heard this??" • This makes me wanna grab people on the internet and ask HAVE YOU HEARD THIS?!? • I would LOVE Neil shaking and grabbing me • what a great juxtaposition of scientists. Sagan, the poet, Feynman the jokester, deGrasse Tyson, the realist, and Nye, the geek-level teacher. • We are all one! see that we are all ppl! one Love to I and I all. Let's get together and feel alright! [posted by name 'GangstaThugLen'] • Fantastic!!! Brilliant!!! Carl was my childhood hero. It's not too great a stretch to say that he changed my life. His excitement and childlike awe was infectious. • I want to be Richard Feynman, he's brilliant and he always seems like he's having so much fun. • Oh, YYEEEEAAH! Geeks' Superstars in a music video! Hahaha! • These are all my favorite public scientists, too! You're a beautiful human, MelodySheep. I want to hug you. • I am graduating in December with two degrees in the social sciences, "generic" degrees. After watching this for the thousandth time I am going to enroll this spring to pursue Physics. I have always wanted to do Science but I got distracted by scientifically illiterate people and ended up doing something that I hate. These scientist hel • We miss you always, Carl and Richard. What an incredible video.


 7. Even the Little Kids - Oh man, this is awesome!  As soon as my kids turn 6 they are being seated in front of the TV and will watch Bill Nye, Carl Sagan's Cosmos and NOVA. Who needs Dora the Explora when they can learn SCIENCE!!! • Melodysheep, you are my baby daughter's favorite musician, and Carl Sagan is now more beloved than Elmo. • Comment on the first video:  “I showed it to my 5 year old boy for the first time this morning & now he asks me to watch the "space guy" • my little sister saw this video in music class, showed me, and well... it's really really cool! think about... one person watched a bunch of scientist's speeches and made a song with it! i personally like the art the flower blooms... really pretty!


IN CLOSING: Here is a link to a webpage through which Connie connects churches and other institutions to downloadable music videos by artists in addition to Boswell. Some of these music videos are designed for contemplative viewing; others include captioned lyrcs for participatory singing. And one final quotation from Sagan himself: "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."