A L M O S T E V E R Y T H I N G Y O U E V E R W A N T E D T O K N O W A B O U T H E A R T S O F S P A C E
Twas in the heady, innocent days of the early 70's that Hearts of Space producer Stephen Hill's career seemed to take a sharp detour when he abandoned his architectural training and opened a recording studio.
Hill had received a graduate degree in architecture at the University of Pennsylvania in 1969, where he studied and worked with Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi, and other leading contemporary architects. Floating off to California on the then prevailing currents of media madness, he experimented with visual art, multi-media design, photography, film, sound engineering, and ultimately, radio.
As a staff engineer at KQED-FM radio (San Francisco 1971-75) and as an independent producer (1973-present), Hill produced thousands of live and recorded radio broadcasts, and nearly seventy record albums and soundtracks, including a 1983 Academy Award-winning feature length film documentary.
While at KQED, he became fascinated by the similarities he heard between certain traditional musics and the synthesized sounds emerging from the first wave of experimental electronic composers. It was a new imagery in a very old kind of music that opened a door to internal experiences and a space for relaxed creativity.
Drawing on his background as an architect, Hill dubbed the genre "spacemusic." Although the music industry eventually decided to call it New Age music, Hill still prefers his original designation, believing that the term New Age is too loaded down with non-musical associations. He defines spacemusic as any audio experience that creates a tangible atmosphere or ambience, an audio environment, or a sense of space for the listener.
Spacemusic at its best relaxes the body while stimulating the imagination. Unlike conventional background music, with its watered-down arrangements of popular melodies from years-gone-by, spacemusic does not rely on simple nostalgia (in the words of Brian Eno) "to induce calm and a space to think." Instead, it paints expansive sound images with unusual tonalities and evocative sonic associations. Together with a generally simple, consonant, harmonic style, this music can create a psychological oasis within the stress, noise, and complexity of everyday life.
To explore these sounds and spaces, in 1973 Hill began Music from the Hearts of Space as a weekly three-hour live radio program on KPFA-FM in Berkeley, California. Joined a year later by former co-producer Anna Turner, the show became a weekly habit for thousands of northern California listeners. Ms. Turner left the program in 1987 to pursue independent writing and production projects, and Hill now works with associate producer Neil Harvey and occasional guest producers.
After ten years development as a local program, Music from the Hearts of Space began national syndication to 35 stations via the NPR satellite in January, 1983. Within three years, Hearts of Space had signed its 200th station. Now passing its tenth year, it is the #1 contemporary music program on public radio, carried by over 285 stations, including 30 in the top 40 markets.
From its inception as a 3 hour free-form mix, Hearts of Space has evolved into a tightly structured, artfully edited music experience. With minimal commentary, it combines the best of contemporary electronics, classical adagios, space jazz, and contemplative acoustic musics from around the world.
In retrospect, Hill realizes he never really left architecture. He simply became a sound architect who learned to build his castles... on the air.
Hearts of Space / P.O. Box 31321 * San Francisco * CA 94131 / firstname.lastname@example.org