metalfoot's picture
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Liner Notes: 

I asked cleanshoes if she would be willing to collaborate with me... and this is the result! Her words, my music. It's a delight to work with her!



I wrote these lyrics for the Week 5 challenge and sent them off to @metalfoot, who brought them wonderfully to life with this buoyant, catchy tune. Thank you so much!

My prompt was "Use an old idea." Since I use my own old ideas all the time, I decided to use someone else's instead. This led me down a rabbit hole of disproved scientific theories, one of which sounded too poetic to resist.

In a nutshell, it used to be believed that light consisted of tiny particles that traveled in straight lines. By the 19th century, scientists had figured out that light in fact travels in waves, but they also assumed that these waves needed a medium to propagate. Therefore, the existence of an invisible but all-pervasive "luminiferous aether" was taken as a given (aether being the classical fifth element--the substance gods breathed in Greek mythology). It wasn't until the late 1880s, when two scientists (in Cleveland, no less!) tried--and failed--to measure how this "aether" affected the speed of light that the theory was disproved. But in so doing, they opened the door for Einstein's theory of general relativity.

It's not a periodic table song, but it'll do!


AETHER (Words: L. McCoy 2020 / Music: A. Klages 2020)

How do we see the light
that shines upon the earth
how does it come to travel
swifter than a bird
in miniscule particles
elegant in lines
or perhaps in waves
curving as a vine

aether, luminiferous aether

What medium exists
enabling the motion
as flight requires air
and voyaging the ocean
invisible to mortals
breath of the divine
a gift to aid our vision
the eye will never find

aether, luminiferous aether

Who shall seek the truth
bold and undeterred
calculate the presence
of that which is assured
advance our human knowledge
an ever turning wheel
for what the mind imagines
science will reveal

aether, luminiferous aether

Please keep your comments respectful, honest, and constructive. Please focus on the song and not the demo.


nancyrost's picture

What a cool thing to write a song about, and the lyric is quite poetic. Love the sound of "luminiferous". The melodic motif is really catchy. Those are great chords to represent ether, very floaty on the chorus! The jaunty whistling is a nice touch.

AndyGetch's picture

I had heard of the particles vs. waves debate but did not know about aether. So I learned something. Such a fun science song collab, well done words and music!

dzd's picture

what a lovely lyric.........that aether luminiferous aether line so well delivered too Wink

this floats and meanders along so beautifully too, really great music adaption of the lyric! whistles a nice touch indeed!

Dunno why.........well it's all relative Wink but made me think of the cool experiments that actually proved light was actually substantial and affected by gravity, It was also pretty well taken as a given, and don't remember specifics, but something about light bending during an eclipse, and all the cool things they've done with particles of light and teleportation in more recent years opening up all the quantum theories and discussions! always interesting (to me) stuff..... I'm just ready for my quantum computer already hahaha.
Really great collab you two!

tcelliott's picture

I love the back story to the lyric and I like the lyric a lot. It has an air of knowledge without resorting to being a wikipedia song. And the melody and Alex's vocal work well with the flow of the words. This is a good collaboration.

Kristi's picture

I like the observational perspective of the world around us and the reminder that there is so much "invisible to mortals". Lots of good imagery there to make us wonder. It's a catchy melody and the guitar and vocal lifts it up nicely. And I enjoyed the whistling parts too.

ayeahmur's picture

There should be a law against music as chirpy as this! Amazingly catchy verse, and a really clever inversion for the slightly more mysterious and moody chorus.
And clever clever lyrics from @cleanshoes. Lovely to focus on one of the stepping stones that got science to where it is today. Tidy scansion and great word choices to make it all work.
Blinking love this!

wacha's picture

This is a great collaboration, it's catchy as heck. The scientific feel of the lyrics fits really well with @metalfoot's songwriting and general style. There's s lot of information packed into this song but I don't feel like it's forcing me to learn. Very nice job to both of you!

Gwyn Jones's picture

Illuminating and so well written words given the perfect berth by Alex's instantly accessible melody...get this onto the school curriculum now!

JūS's picture

It's a little spooky--a concept so remote. An abandoned theoretical medium that was already invisible when it was believed. Way to capture the mystery and the daring of scientific discovery. I like how straightforward the chorus is. It just works so well and the way it's sung there. Excellent choices made by everyone.

Fascinating stuff. Great collab, you guys!

kahlo2013's picture

Such beautifully poetic and visionary lyrics that come to life so joyfully with this upbeat melody! That hook is brilliant and I absolutely love the third verse. Wonderful collaboration!