When you’ve already played Woodstock, Madison Square Garden and the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, there’s only one venue left: outer space.
While Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart hasn’t built a rocket, he’s doing the next best thing. He and American Museum of Natural History’s director of astrovisualization Carter Emmart have prepared a site-specific performance in the Hayden Planetarium Dome for Friday and Saturday.
“You’re going to go on one hell of a ride,” Hart promises via telephone. “From beat one, the beginning of time and space 13.8 billion years ago, to the brain. My brain actually.”
Calling the show “Musica Universalis,” a Pythagorean-inspired term, Hart’s experiment represents a culmination of what he’s been working on when not touring stadiums with Dead & Company.
2012’s “Mysterium Tremendum” was a percussion-focused album that jammed off electromagnetic waves recorded from distant stars. The following year saw “Superorganism,” which found its source rhythm from Hart’s own brainwaves. (He wore a metal EEG cap in concert, looking like Professor X had finally joined a jam band.) Last year’s “RAMU” introduced a new device — the Random Access Musical Universe — where any sound in its vast library could be incorporated into the groove.
“You’ll be able to hear Renée Fleming, the magnificent soprano, in deep space,” Hart says. “She’s on Broadway in ‘Carousel’ right now, but you’ll hear her in the RAMU.”
During our conversation, in which Hart reminds me that we are all multidimensional rhythm machines, a loud buzzing interrupted us. “Hold on, lemme take care of that. RAMU’s taken over! Artificial intelligence, now I’m working for RAMU!”
Most associate the Grateful Dead with San Francisco, but the 74-year-old Hart was born in Brooklyn and raised in Inwood and Long Island. “My grandmothers took me to the Hayden Planetarium. That’s where this all was lit. The grand mystery always captivated me. How did we get here? Multiple dimensions, multiverses! Now I’ve found I can sonify it. I can play with the sun. To do this at the Hayden is the ultimate.”
Though Hart would like to recreate this show elsewhere, there are currently no plans to do so.
Each evening includes a special RAMU-enhanced walk through the current “Our Senses: An Immersive Experience” exhibit, plus a talk with neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and curator Rob DeSalle.
If you go: Mickey Hart Presents “Musica Universalis” is at the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History on Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., Central Park West at 79th Street, amnh.org. Tickets are $225, which includes a drink, a vinyl copy of “RAMU” and entrance to the performance. Use promo code “MickeyFF” online for $75 off each ticket.