Thursday, February 25, 2010

Astronomy Domine (Piper at the Gates of Dawn)

Astronomy Dominé 4:08
     (written by Syd Barrett)

Moon in the twelfth house                        . . . stroboscopic . . .
Scorpio, Arabian skies, Libra, Mars        . . . prominence, Polaris
Pluto was not discovered until 1930
Mars is in conjunction with the fixed stars
Sun sign systems (4x)                                . . . two sign . . .
Lime and limpid green, a second scene
The fight between the blue you once knew
Floating down, the sound resounds
Around the icy waters underground
Jupiter and Saturn
Oberon, Miranda and Titania
Neptune, Titan, stars can frighten
Blinding signs flap
Flicker flicker flicker blam
Pow! Pow!
Stairway scare, Dan dare, who's there?
Lime and limpid green, the sound surrounds
The icy waters underground
Lime and limpid green, the sound surrounds
The icy waters underground

Lead vocals: Syd Barrett and Rick Wright
Spoken words: Peter Jenner

One of the very first true Pink Floyd classics — in fact, this song is so classic it was actually brought back for the Division Bell tour of 1994. It combines the best of the sounds of traditional rock 'n' roll and the new psychedelic movement which was being created. This song was performed live after Syd Barrett's departure — with Dave Gilmour playing his parts — until 1971.

Astronomy Dominé was recorded at the second session for The Piper at the Gates of Dawn on 15 April 1967. This was one of the songs cut from the US edition of the album. It was a common practice for US record companies (such as Capitol) at that time to remove two or three tracks off a new album, so that if it was successful, these could be added to existing single releases to create a new album for immediate release. The Beatles suffered this commercial butchering to a great extent, but by 1967 the practice was already dying out as creators gained more control over their work.

At the beginning of the song can be heard two overdubbed takes of Peter Jenner (one of the Floyd's managers) speaking through a megaphone while reading from an astronomy atlas, naming astrological star signs and astronomical facts, setting the tone for a song which evokes images of other planets — limestone rock and 'limpid green' underground pools of icy water, such as astronomers in the 60's thought might be found on Venus or Mars before the Voyager and other such satellite probes exposed the reality. In an additional bit of trivia, 'domine' is Latin for lord or master, usually used as a form of address. Syd took some liberties with the spelling (which would normally not have an accent symbol).

Miles describes Astronomy Dominé live: "The same characteristic descending bass line [as in Interstellar Overdrive] introduces Astronomy Dominé also, a song during which Syd used to perform some of his most crazed, soaring, and inspired guitar work. It was a curious number because the group seemed to periodically change gear, using the feedback echo as the clutch."

Roger Waters: "Syd had one song that had anything to do with space — Astronomy Dominé — that's all.That's the sum total of all Syd's writing about space and yet there's this whole fucking mystique about how he was the father of it all."

Nick Mason: "I love Astronomy Dominé."

Astronomy Domine
Lucifer Sam
Matilda Mother
Pow R. Toc H.
Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk
Interstellar Overdrive
Gnome, The
Chapter 24
Scarecrow, The


  1. this song was played regularly untill the middle of 1971, and the spoken words at the beginning were not written by Syd, they were taken from an astronomy atlas (by Peter Jenner).

  2. Based on your input I've un-bolded the spoken intro for this song to distinguish it from the sung lyrics (in bold). Probably should have done that from the start. I also modified the date to 1971 for this song's live performances, while including the bit about the astronomy atlas. Thanks for your insight. With contributions such as yours, the improved accuracy of these entries greatly aids the overall value of this project as a resource.

  3. I always thought it was "divides the blue you once knew"

  4. Just love this piece of music, it took Syd to kick the whole thing off.

  5. One of their many masterpieces,too good for words.

  6. I thought the intro was: "All Twelve Houses-Low viscosity-Scorpio-Arabian Skies-Libra-Cordelia-Mars-Repeated -- a – plum-A man who was under a great influence-Pluto was not discovered until 1930-Try to join conjunction with the fixed stars-Co-habitation too psychic-Shoot near the f-fire ball-Sun Sign System-Sun Sign System-Barnabas disappears-Sun Sign System-Sun Sign System-I am seeing green-Starlight Orbita-You have total flow 1-7-You have hold of your goal". Some of the words are clearer on the mono version, and there is a bit of overdubbing which obscures some words. I got the words from another site, and after quite a bit of listening these seem right. Certainly not taken from an Astronomy atlas,(eg the Uranean moon Cordelia was not named until twenty years later!). I suppose the debate will carry on forever.