The Real Right Stuff: Virtual Orchestra

2 minute read πŸ“–

Knowing how to work in isolation isn’t just a good skill for astronauts β€” it’s also vital to create an epic space-themed soundtrack in a pandemic.

A new video from the National Geographic Channel, provided to Space.com, shows musicians virtually coming together in their bedrooms, on couches and in tiny recording studios to produce the stirring soundtrack behind the new “The Real Right Stuff” documentary, which is streaming on Disney Plus. The documentary is a companion to the dramatized series “The Right Stuff,” which aired its first season finale Friday (11/20/20).

The soundtrack was composed by James Everingham and produced by Hans Zimmer and Russell Emanuel, but it is the individual musicians you get to see in the video β€” each focused intensely on their scoresheet, working to keep in sync even though their colleagues are far away. In this strings-only version of Light This Candle, most of the musicians are using Apple’s Logic Pro X as their local DAW and then sent off their raw audio files to then be mixed by the engineers. The editors have creatively made the most of the video submitted by the musicians, which could have been used for reference as well, by mixing in some of the original archival footage from Alan Shepard’s famous moment in history. Scroll through embed below to watch the video.

“The Right Stuff” is based upon the 1979 book by Tom Wolfe; older readers may also remember a 1983 movie adaptation of the book. Wolfe explored NASA’s early Mercury space program when test pilots were called upon to take their derring-do into space as the United States engaged in a technological competition with the Soviet Union. “The Real Right Stuff” is a companion documentary that debuted Friday to chronicle the real-life bravery, innovation and grit behind the early days of spaceflight.

No one working in space in the early 1960s could have known how poignant the theme of working in isolation could be in 2020, with billions of workers worldwide isolating partially or completely at home, often connected by little more than video conferencing tools.

The video clip shows the musicians coming together to score the launch of Alan Shepard, the first American in space. In voiceover, Wolfe (who died in 2018 at age 88) talks about his impressions of the individual mission controllers at NASA and its contractors, working to support only the second human being to fly in space after the Soviet Union’s Yuri Gagarin.

How have you made the most of making music in isolation? Let us know in the comments.

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I'm the co-owner of The Music Box and a lifelong musician as a euphonium player. The son of a band director, alumnus of the University of Alabama and father of 3, I keep busy on my Peloton and managing multiple businesses.

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