“Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?”: John Boswell’s Symphony of Science remixes

By on October 16, 2015

“Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind?,” asks Fred Rogers (better known as “Mister Rogers”) in this awesome 2012 remix for PBS Digital Studios by Symphony of Science’s John D. Boswell, a Bellingham, Washington-based musician, remix artist, and video creator.

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This in a continuing reissue series of remixes by the artist John D. Boswell, who goes by the name “melodysheep.” Boswell uses pitch-corrected audio and video samples from television programs featuring popular scientists and educators. The audio and video clips are then mixed into digital mashups and scored with Boswell’s original compositions.

Symphony of Science, “aims to spread scientific knowledge and philosophy through musical remixes” and to “deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form”.

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Over on the Symphony of Science Facebook page, there’s a good explanation about Boswell’s Symphony of Science project:

The goal of the Symphony of Science is to bring scientific knowledge and philosophy to the public, in a novel way, through the medium of music. Science and music are two passions of mine that I aim to combine in a way that is intended to bring a meaningful message to listeners, while simultaneously providing an enjoyable musical experience.

The project owes its existence in large measure to the wonderful work of Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, of Druyan-Sagan Associates, and their production of the classic PBS series ‘Cosmos,’ as well as all the other featured figures and visuals.

Inspiration from The Gregory Brothers and DJ Steve Porter, coupled with my experience with remixing, composition, and auto-tune, led to experiments with remixing scientists, culminating in Carl Sagan’s ‘A Glorious Dawn’ in Fall of 2009.

This first video’s highly positive reception provided motivation to elaborate on the theme of remixing scientists, which spawned the Symphony of Science project. The second video, ‘We Are All Connected,’ was released in October 2009 on the heels of ‘A Glorious Dawn’ with much success.

Although the methods of remixing and tuning spoken word, combined with original electronic music and similarly themed footage, are unorthodox in the context of other science-themed music, the results have often been inspiring, humbling, and of course humorous.

The project has now produced five full length music videos , and expanded to include and rely on much more input from the community and collaborations with peers.

Since its launch in Fall 2009, Symphony of Science has been featured on NPR, Wired, The Scientist, Attack of the Show, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Bad Astronomy, Coast to Coast AM, The Examiner, and many more radio shows, magazines and websites.

The videos have attracted over 5 million views online, contributing to the release of the first song, ‘A Glorious Dawn,’ on a special vinyl single through Jack White’s record label, Third Man Records.

Boswell’s music videos have featured science figures like Sagan, Richard Feynman, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Stephen Hawking, and feature both audio and video sampled from their popular science TV shows, including “Cosmos,” “The Universe,”The Eyes of Nye,” The Elegant Universe,” and “Stephen Hawking’s Universe.”

Here’s more bio about Boswell from his Wikipedia entry: John Boswell attended Gonzaga Preparatory School and graduated from college with a degree in economics. Soon after, Boswell started Colorpulse, an electronica music project, and began to focus on production. He released an album in 2010, titled Escaping the Tangle, which included some of these productions. Boswell lives in Bellingham, Washington.

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Boswell doesn’t appear to have done any video remixes recently for PBS Digital Studios, but those were some of our original favorites (perhaps because they weren’t strictly science-related, they were more associated with PBS programming and focused on people like Mister Rogers, Julia Child, artist Bob Ross and others). These date back to 2012, and we found a few more for you here.

Here’s the b-side to the Rogers remix:

In this clip, Boswell remixed Bob Ross:

Julia Child got the remix treatment by Boswell, in celebration of her 100th birthday:

In addition to Symphony of Science, Boswell is also working on a project called Remixes for the Soul, also using the moniker melodysheep.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.