Science fiction music explores technology and alternate realities

The year is 2036 and we now live in a grim world. Art and culture have been outlawed and freedom is a thing of the past. But in a secret location, a rebellion is forming. A rebellion of dancing soldiers…

This is the premise of the new video from Jabbawockeez, an eight-member hip-hop dance crew best known for being the winners of the first season of America’s Best Dance Crew.

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From Ziggy Stardust to Blue Man Group to Daft Punk, the merging of science fiction and music is nothing new. Whether it’s videos like this one by the Jabbawockeez or this Smashing Pumpkins steampunk homage to Georges Melies, or the robotic sounding symphonies of dubstep, music like literature explores brave new worlds and tells stories about technology. Some bands might use SF as a theme for one video, while other musicians – like Bjork or Daft Punk – seem to perpetually exist in a futuristic or alternate reality.

The Doctor Who theme is not only associated with a SF program, its creation employed visionary music-making techniques. Though written by Australian composer Ron Grainer, it was Delia Derbyshire at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop who created the music in 1963. Well before the availability of commercial synthesisers, each note was individually created by cutting, splicing, speeding up and slowing down segments of analogue tape containing recordings of a single plucked string, white noise, and the simple harmonic waveforms of test-tone oscillators that were typically used for calibrating equipment and rooms, not creating music. (Read more about that here.)

One of my favorite SFR songs is “Extraterrestrial” by Katy Perry, especially this fan made homage to Gul Dukat from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In my teen years, I loved “Weird Science” by Oingo Boingo, written by Danny Elfman for the John Huges movie of the same name, released in 1985.

What are some of your favorite science fiction songs, bands and videos?

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2012-jenJ.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012), and is a regular contributor to the Contact-Infinite Futures blog. She also creates cool wearable things that are featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Goodreads and deviantART.

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