#3 March 1987
Section 184.108.40.206.003.of the Artemis Data Book
A few weeks ago I took in an unusual concert: the Northern Illinois
University ( De Kalb ) Steel Drum Band, largest and oldest in the country,
was playing at the UWM Union (University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee). I went
to get a fore taste of "Moon Music".
Humor me a bit with these assumptions. Musical instruments will not be
"upported" ("up" the gravity well) from Earth to the Moon base or settlement
-- too expensive. Yet the personnel or settlers will surely want to enliven
their "evenings" with more than prerecorded music. This means fashioning
musical instruments out of lunar materials in the base or colony shops.
What can they do without wood, without drum skins, without brass ( which is
a copper alloy: the Apollos' limited prospecting would indicate copper is no
more than a trace element on the Moon )? Not being a fashioner of musical
instruments by trade or hobby, I honestly don't know. But definitely, one
option is the West Indies' steel drum, a cut-off 55 gallon drum whose bottom
is then beat with a set of sledge hammers into a complex concave shape
capable of sounding from 3 to 36 full, round, vibrant notes. Certainly
assorted bells and cymbals, "saws", xylophones, and even marimbas with
metal, glass, or ceramic resonator tubes will work. Music has been played on a
keyed set of drinking glasses. And to be sure the electric guitar with a
ceramic, composite, or metal body.
But stringed instruments with wooden sound boxes or brass wind instruments?
No way! Can something passable or even special in the way of stringed sound
boxes and wind instruments or horns be made from such lunar materials as
glass, glass composite, ceramics, steel, aluminum, etc.? Why don't you
musically gifted tinkerers out there see what you can come up with. But
indeed just the instruments above will make a great orchestra!
The NIU band includes an ensemble of thirty steel drums -- each tuned
differently to complement each other in orchestral fashion. No
amplification needed! While the band's repertoire includes the usual calypso, pan, and
reggae tunes, it amply demonstrated the great versatility of these
instruments by such numbers as Cool and the Gang's "Cherish", Dionne
Warwick's "That's what friends are for", Bizet's "Carmen Overture", and the
opening movement of Bach's "Third Brandenburg Concerto". Unbelievable and
very moving. The steel drum shows all the dominant lead power of the piano
and yet can be as soft and delicate as the violin.
I doubt Moon settlers will ever miss Earth's traditional orchestral
instruments. They will do quite well with what they can make from Lunar
resources. The results will help contribute to a unique Lunar culture with
a flavor all its own. Recordings of lunar renditions and original Lunar
compositions will take their place on the shelves of Earth's music stores.
Some Earth FM stations may even feature lunar music just as others feature
soul, rock, jazz, classical, pop, and country. Some Earth groups may even
catch the fever and "downport" instruments made on the Moon.
Wouldn't it be fun for our chapter to have a small "Lunar Ensemble" to play
at our various public events? A steel drum or two, a xylophone, a marimba,
some bells, cymbals, and castanets? Perhaps you know someone who isn't all
that interested in man's future in space but would find it fun to be
associated with us in this way. Working with associated groups like this
would be one way for us to extend our influence beyond our core of dedicated
activists. Sleep on it.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto