Music has always taken inspiration from life. Whether it reflects the minutiae of the day to day or a grand or lofty ideal, it is often a means of figuring out what it means to be human and live on the spinning lump of rock we call ‘Earth’. Some pieces are even able to weave inward human experience and emotions with the very fabric of the universe. Here are some pieces that meld together what it means to be human with astrological inspirations from way beyond our little planet…

The Planets Suite, written by Gustav Holst, is a collection of seven works that explore each planet’s ‘atmosphere’, as well as reflecting characteristics of the Gods they are named after (at the time, Pluto hadn’t been discovered and has since been declassified as a planet, so it turns out, Holst was right to keep his suite to seven pieces!). One could argue that Holst is also exploring the different facets of humanity and human idiosyncrasies as each God represents a facet of human emotion.

Space Oddity, the fictional fable of Major Tom, released by David Bowie in 1969, was inspired both by the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and also reflected Bowie’s own feelings of alienation. As well as being a very much a part of the global zeitgeist – a time where space exploration (both real and fictional) and the race to get men on the moon finally became a reality – Bowie was also looking inwards at how he felt about his place in the world.

Dark Side of the Moon, the (now very) famous concept album by Pink Floyd (and had its 50th anniversary of release in March this year), is a collection of works that reflects the band’s attitudes towards mental health, discussing physiological and psychological ideas that can lead to mental ill health. It uses the concept of being on the ‘dark side’ of our neighbouring satellite to process very human feelings about mental instability.

Inspiration can come from anywhere – either by looking upwards to the stars or inwards – into ourselves – or both

We obviously can’t distil the reasons for the success of a song or an album into just one idea or sentence, but for us, two of the fundamental truths of music are that it can be 1. a release and 2. a way of exploring our emotions (particularly our dark side), allowing us to navigate a potentially less frightening and more beneficial path through them.

Our Music and Mental Health project, which has developed at a pace over the last few years, revolves around these two fundamental ideas – that music can help us to navigate AND release difficult emotions, and even contribute to better mental health. It also puts children who are struggling with their mental health at the heart of the project. Music is simply the tool used to guide young people to better mental health, through the engagement in musical activity, giving them the skills to do this independently as they grow and their health and confidence improves. We also try to introduce the idea that inspiration can come from anywhere – either by looking upwards to the stars or inwards – into ourselves – or both