By ROB LONGLEY|
"Interplanet Janet, she's a galaxy girl, a solar system Ms. from a future
world. She travels like a rocket with her comet Ms. from a future world. She
travels like a rocket with her comet team..."
Remember Schoolhouse Rock, those animated, musical interludes on Saturday
morning television that gave short history and civic lessons in the guise of
If you grew up in the '70s and still don't know how a bill becomes a law, you
clearly weren't watching enough Saturday morning cartoons.
Who can forget "The Preamble," "I'm Just A Bill," "Naughty Number Nine," and
perhaps the most memorable Schoolhouse Rock tune, "InterPlanet Janet"?
The Chromatics take a lesson from Schoolhouse Rock and now sing about
astronomy. They'll sing twice at Harrisonburg First Night.
A Smart Bunch
In that same spirit come the Chromatics, an a cappella sextet that has been
singing about black holes, quasars, the sun, universe and all things science
The Chromatics, who will play two shows at Harrisonburg's First Night
celebration Dec. 31, know what they're talking, or rather, singing, about
- the group is made up of astrophysicists, research scientists, engineers
and other, well, really smart people.
With songs like "Cosmic Radio Show" ("Hey, Ho, Did you know, there's a
universe in the radio"), "Sun Song" ("Our star, the Sun, is a big ball of
gas, and it's 99 percent of our solar system's mass"), "Lunar Love," and
"High Energy Groove," the Chromatics make learning fun, a la Schoolhouse
"When we first got together, we realized we could all recite the preamble to
the Constitution because of Schoolhouse Rock," explained group member Padi
Boyd, a research scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
Md., where the group is based. "We thought, 'What if we wrote songs like that
They did, and thanks to a grant from NASA, produced AstroCappella and
AstroCappella 2.0, a multi-media lesson plan that science teachers throughout
the world have been using in the classroom since 1998.
"Once you learn a song, it sticks in your brain, unlike something that's just
put up on a blackboard," said Boyd. "What we're trying to do is get science
into the hearts and minds of kids so they'll enjoy it and remember it."
'A Different Light'
The Chromatics and their AstroCappella songs have also helped debunk the
stereotype of the nerdy scientist, Boyd says.
"It's an eye opener when people see us performing," she said. "There's this
image of a scientist as an old, professor type in the lab all the time, kind
of antisocial, and here we are singing and dancing. It really helps put
scientists and science in a different light."
The Chromatics' music isn't all astronomy and science. They sing covers of
traditional pop tunes and originals as well.
The Chromatics will perform their First Night shows at 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
at the Court Square Theater.
Contact Rob Longley at 574-6286 or