Eclipses and Music
Solar eclipses are rare enough that you aren’t going to find a whole lot of music on such a specific topic!
This is actually an odd thing because total solar eclipses have always captivated our attention, but perhaps they just aren’t the sort of thing that you want to sing about if you are worried about the End of the World!
In the contemporary music scene, you may already have several of the following tunes on your Playlist. Only two songs actually mention the phenomenon by name (Simon and Pink Floyd).
1970 solar eclipse
‘You’re so Vain ‘ sung by Carly Simon
. . . you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia
To see a total eclipse of the sun
Her lyric refers to the March 7, 1970 total solar eclipse, and this is the only known recorded song that mentions a specific eclipse. This will make future historians very happy if they try to date when the song was written if no other records exist. This is kind of like what archaeologists do with Babylonian cuneiform eclipse records today. By the way, there was a later ‘Nova Scotia’ eclipse on July 10, 1972, but Simon’s song came out in 1971. Time travel had not been invented yet.
‘Eclipse’ by Pink Floyd from ‘Dark side of the Moon’
… and everything under the sun is in tune
but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.
‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ sung by Bonnie Tyler.
…Once upon a time there was light in my life
But now there's only love in the dark
Nothing I can say
A total eclipse of the heart…
Sheet music cover 1919
Credit: The Total Eclipse Gallop’ composed by E. Mack and published in 1919 by Lee & Walker (Credit: Library of Congress)
If we go farther back in time before many of us were born, we come across a smattering of sheet music published in the 1800s and early-1900s.
‘ The Total Eclipse Gallop’ composed by E. Mack and published in 1919 by Lee & Walker. Commemorates the August 7, 1869 total solar eclipse, which was visible across the continental United States. https://jscholarship.library.jhu.edu/handle/1774.2/21528
‘Eclipse’ composed by Herman Darewski (1883-1947) was published in 1919. (Library of Congress, Performing Arts, Call Number M1508 Eclipse) http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.m1508.77455/
(Credit: Library of Congress)
Other memorable dance tunes that are now long forgotten include:
Eclipse March, 1899 published by Troedel & Co., National Library of Australia.
Eclipse Polka, by Giuseppe Bistolfi. Published by Kansas City, MO: J.W. Jenkins Son, 1889. University of Missouri, Kansas City Sheet Music Collection
Eclipse Polka, 1853, Published by Wm. Vanderbeek and Son,
Eclipse Waltz, 1854, W. C. Peters and Sons
Eclipse Polka, 1874, Lee & Walker
Eclipse Quickstep, 1885, Richards, J. G
Eclipse Gallop, 1885, Spear & Dehnhoff
Eclipse Schottische, 1884, Stewart, S. S.
For more about music and the sun, visit the Stanford Solar Center’s solar music webpage (http://solar-center.stanford.edu/art/music.html), where you will hear scientific data rendered into musical sounds!