Why is NASA music so attractive?

Astronauts have not visited the Moon in 50 years, but the United States is intent on bringing them back. Hundreds of reporters from around the world traveled to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida this week to cover the launch of the first mission An ambitious effort known as Artemis, sister of Apollo in Greek mythology. Yesterday’s launch was called off when one of the rocket’s main engines refused to cooperate. As reporters swarmed around the press center just three miles from the launch pad, awaiting more details about what went wrong and when NASA tried again, I thought about the things we had in common: Not the mission that got us there, but a tune most of us probably know. By heart.

If you were asked – if someone started singing some familiar tune – you’d probably break into the press site for an interesting NASA music commentary submission.

Music precedes every NASA conference call, and it lives rent-free in our brains. And it’s not just reporters: astronomers, engineers, people at NASA and commercial space companies alike have been exposed to the special music. At the start of this weekend’s in-person briefing, NASA Press Secretary Jackie McGuinness told the crowd, “We need some NASA music that has this room.” It can become any music contract ear worm—There is a whole kind of video on the Internet vibration To the sweet melody of Cisco customer service music — but NASA has a certain oomph, the kind that underpins the noble endeavor of space exploration. For years, it accompanies nearly every major NASA announcement for the press. The suspended music is a prelude before the rover touches down on Mars, deploys a space telescope, or launches a lunar rocket (or not). It is, in a way, the soundtrack to the US space program.

NASA held more teleconferences than usual in the run-up to the first Artemis mission. Waiting to wait before all of them, I realized that even though I’ve covered NASA for over five years, I knew nothing of what sounded like an unofficial agency song. I wanted to know who wrote the music and if they knew I felt this song stick deep in my bones. So while NASA was preparing its lunar rocket, it set out to do a simple investigation.

I called early on to a NASA conference call last week to provide updates on the Space Launch System, the rocket that engineers are currently troubleshooting. As usual, the operator answered and asked my name, ready to keep me on the call. She looked confused, even a little suspicious, when I started asking about her to her While that. She tells me that she works for Verizon, which supplies conference call services to NASA, including music on hold. Verizon customers can choose their own custom music, but it looks like NASA chose the default. The operator said that she and the other operators don’t have to listen to the melody themselves, but she feels bad for the poor souls who do. “Nobody cares about that, to be completely honest,” she told me. She said some callers complained about it, but no one praised it. (I’m not naming the operator because she told me she’s not authorized to speak for Verizon.)

The music uploaded by NASA is totally divisive. The loop contains two different instrumental melodies that are repeated one after the other. One is a rustic guitar tone, fun but relaxing. The other, a cheerful, cheerful piano playing – the space press team agrees – is more attractive. some Like jamming it; others absolutely you hate her. The second silence between each iteration is long enough to raise your hopes that the press conference is finally about to begin, but then: Your color, your color, your color. For me, the sound has become so associated with the stress of work that my heartbeat vibrates when I hear it, like facing an alarm clock early in the morning in the middle of the day.

The Verizon player did not know the source of the suspended music, and emails to the phone company were not answered. So I called NASA again, put my phone on speakerphone, and had my partner carry Shazam, the music recognition app, on his phone. Identifiers appeared quickly. The inflectional melody sounded like”Windows rolled“by The 126ers. It was the jingle of pepper and the most earworm.”Soul synthesis‘, by Fat Mama T.

The songs were on YouTube, along with other tracks by the artists, which were similarly useful – the kind of chill music used in commercials. But there was nothing on the Internet about the identity of the musicians themselves. The YouTube description of “Soul Composing” mentioned a person named Silent Partner as the creator; After more extensive research on the internet, I found out that the name is associated with a recording studio called Trout Recording. I sent a company email, and the subject line was clear and desperate Do you know Phat Mama Tee? I got a response the next day. “I do!” The email said excitedly. “I am the composer.”

The composer is Bryce Goggin, a longtime musician and record producer who has created music for copyright-free audio libraries. As far as he knows, there is no Phat Mama Tee – whoever uploads the song to YouTube should add that – and the track is actually called “Scrapbook”. Goggin told me that he and a group of his music collaborators recorded it in 2014 during a rehearsal session in which they probably directed at least 10 tracks. When we spoke on the phone, he played a recording of him, trying to move his memory of that day. (A muscle in my face involuntarily twitches.) He doesn’t remember if it was on the piano, but “we were kind of growing our indie pop oats that day,” he said.

Goggin didn’t know his work ended with NASA music or that he had a dedicated and enthusiastic fan base. “I am so glad that something I worked on and created affected people — I mean, maybe positively, maybe negatively,” he said. “It’s good to know [it] exists in the consciousness of other human beings.”

I’ve never been able to find the artist or performers behind The 126ers, who may have produced the other half of NASA’s music. Perhaps some things are supposed to remain as mysterious as the depths of the universe itself.

NASA is set to hold another press conference tonight to discuss the canceled launch attempt and announce a new timeline for the mission, which will send an unmanned astronaut capsule on a trip to the moon and back. The space agency envisions a future of missions leading to a permanent presence on the Moon, and the soundscape of that future will be equal parts roaring rockets and music; Every launch, every significant event, will be another opportunity to tune in. Goggin’s unintended space travel anthem may become more famous. After I finished bombarding him for information, Goujin had a question for me: “What number can I call to hear that?”

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