As some of you may or may not know, I’ve been writing a concept album about the actual Transit of Venus. The one that this project is named after.
If this requires a bit of back-story, here it is in brief. A transit of Venus is the astronomical term for when Venus passes directly between the Earth and the Sun, a little black dot of an eclipse. (This is an ASTRONOMY thing not an astrology thing. You’ve got no idea how often I hear “You don’t believe in astrology? But your band is called Transit of Venus!” An easy mistake to make I guess haha) Venus transits occur in a pattern that repeats every 243 years, with pairs of transits eight years apart separated by long gaps of 121.5 years and 105.5 years. The last Transit of Venus was in 2004 and the next one will be this year in June.
You may be wondering “Is this at all interesting and why would anyone care?” so I’ll tell you why the transit of venus is interesting to me. I can’t promise it will also be interesting to you, but thats ok, you can go read your horoscope instead.
I first heard about the Transit of Venus when I was sitting in a lecture room, Auckland Uni, Physics 107 – Planets, Stars and Galaxies. We had this certain lecturer who could sing you to sleep with his monotonous dreary rumble, no matter how interesting the subject matter was I’d find my head nodding and my breath slowing and I’d have to fight to keep my eyes open as I stared at the whiteboard. He was talking about the Transit of Venus one particular day, we had an assignment where we had to replicate the calculations required to determine the distance from the Earth to the Sun. He told the story of Captain James Cook. Growing up, I’d only heard the primary-school version of the legend where a somewhat vilified Captain Cook lands in New Zealand and starts shooting people. I’d never heard the backstory of the amazing journey of scientific discovery. These explorers were our olden time astronauts, risking their lives for new knowledge. The Endeavour had a botanist and an astronomer on board, their trip was about more than traveling to new countries with guns to stir up trouble. And it annoyed me that I’d never been told about this at school.
Anyway, there’s a lot more depth to the story of the observations of the Transit of Venus (which were necessary to calculate the distance of the earth to the sun, which itself was necessary to calculate the relative distances of everything in the solar system*) the whole of it IS quite interesting, and I’m not really a writer so I won’t blah blah blah about it too much, and will in fact wind up my little story by saying that back in 2005 I named my recording project Transit of Venus, I got an A- in that paper, and then later I dropped out of Uni because I wanted to spend more time on my main band Amperzahn and work in a music store. /Backstory
I’ve been writing a collection of songs inspired by stories related to the Transit of Venus, for a concept album I wish to release before or around June. It’s going to be bookended by two instrumental pieces, first Evening Star, and it will end on a piece called Morning Star. Now life being what it is, the last song on the album is the first one ready, and here it is…
If you like it please do share it around.
In this song I was trying to capture a feeling of wonder, trepidation, but then adventure excitement and discovery, as well as a nostalgia or sadness that this coming Transit will be the last within our lifetime. I felt morally obliged to include twinkly sounds because everyone knows stars (and yes, planets) make a twinkling noise when they sparkle***.
Adam played Drums and Bass and that instrument that is called a Brazilian Viola but looks neither Brazilian nor like a Viola. I played Piano/Keyboards and Guitar and the thing that makes a sparkly noise which I often call a marimba though it’s definitely not one.
We recorded at The Rock Factory Studio, which is always the best of fun! We finished the whole song in a day by prioritising feel over perfection. We had a picnic in a tree at the domain, which is something of a tradition now. We ate Burger Fuel, I had a Beatnik Burger. A bug flew into my mouth while I was eating it. (We should get free burgers for that plug right? Someone tell them to sponsor our band…)
And that is part of the story of the song Morning Star. I missed out the bit about planetariums but I’ll tell you that sooooooonish haha!
Bye for now,
*Some may argue that ‘necessary’ is the wrong word and that they’ve lived their lives quite happily without ever needing to know this information, but I’d argue that all past knowledge is relevant to present and future knowledge so while you might not specifically need to know the distance from the earth to the sun, your TV** needs satellites, and satellites need space travel and space travel needs a half decent knowledge of at least the close bits of space, am I right? Do you like your TV?
** Unless you just use it for DVD’s, like the one at my place. In which case substitute Google Earth, or GPS or whatever it is you fancy that needs satellites.
***True fact, you read it here first, on the best place for all true facts; the internet.