Astronomy Domine

Album: The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn (1967)


  • "Astronomy" is the study of celestial bodies, and to "domineer" is to control something in an arrogant way. So "Astronomy Domine" means to control space for personal needs. This probably represents the space race between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics during the Cold War era. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Spencer - Los Angeles, CA
  • This was written by Syd Barrett, who was the group's primary songwriter at the time. A founding member of Pink Floyd, his mental health started deteriorating a short time after this was released, and by 1972 he was out of the band, doing gardening instead of leading one of the foremost bands in Britain. Pink Floyd went on to far greater success without him, but the songs he wrote represent some of the more adventurous music of the era and show sparks of the genius many believe he could have become.
  • The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn was Pink Floyd's first album; the title came from a chapter heading in The Wind In The Willows, a children's book written by Kenneth Grahame and published in 1908. In the UK, it was a hit, reaching #6. Pink Floyd got some attention when they toured there with Jimi Hendrix in 1967. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • "Oberon, Miranda and Titania" are all moons of Uranus and are also characters in Shakespeare's plays (Oberon and Titania, King and Queen of the Fairies in A Midsummer Night's Dream; Miranda, daughter of Prospero in The Tempest). "Titan" is the largest moon of Saturn. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ashley - Moncton, Canada
  • Regarding the lyrics, "Stairway scare, Dan Dare, who's there?" Dan Dare is a British science fiction comic hero created by illustrator Frank Hampson, and is referenced in this song with obvious references to Space, planets, and their moons. Syd Barrett's guitar is also suggestive of the brass motif from "Mars, the Bringer of War" in Gustav Holst's The Planets.
  • There is some Morse code at the beginning of this song, which was a way to transmit messages using a series of long and short tones. Plenty of people tried to decipher the code in this song, only to realize it was just a random series of tones with no meaning.
  • In 2018, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason told Rolling Stone: "This is such a great drum track in an interesting time signature. It's a fantastic bit of '60s philosophy mixed with a sort of psychedelic lyric."

Comments: 35

  • John C from SolihullApparently Domine comes from Latin and is the vocative of "Lord". This, to me, indicates the title is saying "Astronomy, Lord" rather than having anything to do with domineering. Its working title was "Astronomy Domine (An Astral Chant)", so it seems to me that the chant is simply "Astronomy, Lord". That is, the chant of "Astronomy" is addressed to "Lord" (presumably God).
  • Redsails from Birmingham, AlI always thought "Domine" was a misspelling of the word "domain," kind of like a British person would say it.
  • Cliff from Oakdale, NyBack in the 60's before Pink Floyd were known, their record label (Harvest) came out with albums of new artists they were trying to get new audiences for. The albums were sold at give away prices just to get them in your hands. I paid 29 cents for the one with this song on it with Pink Floyd. Other artists on this album were Linda Ronstadt, Grand Funk Railroad and about 10 others I can't think of now. The idea worked as I became instantly addicted to Pink Floyd.
  • Tom from London, United KingdomI'm not as familiar as I would like to be with PF ... so I have a question: Was Syd Barrett and Pink Floyd using the interstellar imagery and the names of planets in an extended Dan Dare kind of fantasy, or was there a further dream metaphor at play alluding to planetary personalities; per C S Lewis, Holst? (The mention of Oberon and Titania are also from Midsummer Night's Dream.) Or were they all just high? Appreciate your thoughts...
  • Stacey from Houston, TxLove the intro...
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaBut Chris from Washington, Bike does a perfect job at being a silly fun song, its not meant to be a pretentious ballad or anything like that. Syd was really focused on story's on that time in his life. If you want metaphors and all that listen to the album Barrett. I've listened to that album 50 times and still find new meaning in some lyrics that I would've considered meaningless.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Moi think comparing the barrett-era floyd with waters-era is useless. theyre both EXTREMELY different. i personally love syd and his lyrics, but who can deny that roger and david are also incredible? and patrick, of COURSE his solo stuff isnt that great, he was completely out of his mind by then! such a shame...wish he were here.
  • Chloe from St. Louis, Moi think oldpink is secretly roger waters. on every page i look at, he/she has added some interesting trivia.
  • Harry from South Bend, InI once heard this was the emergence of space rock. Whatever the case, this is, IMO, the best song off of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn; certainly a great song to listen to, especially while star gazing.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InThis one is a fantastic old classic.
    Syd's original studio version is great, but I must say the live performances of it were more interesting, with Dave and Rick in particular improvising a bit.
    The voice at the beginning is indeed that of Peter Jenner, reading planet and other celestial body names into what is supposed to sound like a static-plagued radio.
    btw...probably the most interesting version is the October 17, 1970, Pepperland, San Rafael, CA recording of this, which features three power outage false starts and Roger chatting with the audience during their difficulties.
    This song was the perfect opener when I saw them open up with it in 1994, 23 years after they had stopped performing it live.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, --I found out, it's 'dominnee'.
  • Sibella from Pretoria, --Is it pronounced 'domine' as in an English way or 'dominnay'?
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaPatrick, how can you say something like that? Waters and Gilmour would've gotten nowhere without Barett. Waters couldn't even tune his bass in the early days, And while Gilmour is a great guitarest his playing does not come close to matching the early visions of Syd's. On another note the voice in the beginning of the song is of Peter Jenner, their manager.
  • Tristan from Philadelphia, PaHey dan it was an orange and a plum...
  • Patrick from Chicago, IlI agree with Brain here. I love Syd's stuff with Pink Floyd, but his solo stuff sucks. Waters and Gilmour are both better than him though.
  • Wayne from Leesburg, VaGreat song to play along with. It's British and distorted and astronomical. Three of my favourite things.
  • Brandon from Downingtown, Pais that acually roger waters commenting?
  • Mentor from Cambridge, EnglandOne of my favourite songs... personally i've allways prefered syd's pink floyd...
  • Achory from Warner Robins, Gai don't personally much care for pink floyd's syd barrett-led era, but this song is pretty good. so is interstellar overdrive, but it's purely instrumental
  • Adam from Lexington, Kyif you think this song is not about the space race, think again. pink floyd was a very philosophical, thought provoking rocknroll band. their music was known as "the thinking man's rock and roll." this is definitely about the space race. do some research and you will find that everything floyd did was done to state an opinion about a political issue or about human nature in general.
  • Ozzy from Fresno, Cai like syd pink floyd more than rogers and gilmour because syd was such a genius and mde the music so happy. i miss him so much though!even though he wasn't as popular solo his music was still good. plus he was real good-looking before he went totally insane.
  • Shelby from The Other Side , United StatesYeah, definitely not sure it's about any politicial things. Ashley from Moncton, Canada is right- it's very Syd Barrett, simple and cool but still smart. Waters-era Floyd seems much more focused on politics than Barrett-era Floyd. The latter produced more nonsensical and fun songs. (Though there ARE admittedly some fun ones that were made post-Syd. =] ).
  • Bryan from New York, NyI personally wouldn't say Syd is better than Waters or Gilmour simply for Waters's lyrics and Gilmour's amazing solos he wrote. Still, a good artist.
  • Robert from Moulton,northants, EnglandAstronomy Domine has inspiration from an early '50s comic called "The Eagle" that feature astronaut Dan Dare. With his assistant Digby, he fought against an alien named the Mekon. Dan Dare was also a popular radio serial. The Comic/radio ran when Syd was a young boy. "Stairway Scare, Dan Dare - who's there?" Dan Dare would go anywhere.
  • Lizz from Tampa, FlI heard they had one of those farmers' almanacs or a book about space (something like that) and their manager read random things out of it in the beginning part. The rest of the song continues in that vain.
  • Joey from Hw, United Stateschris, if you think syd barrett can t write music then listen to arnold layne (the single version), if you haven't already. he is a little bet better than waters and gilmour.
  • Chris from Everett, Waall I know is that Syd Barrett cannot write music at all, his lyrics are so plain for example listen to bike
  • Dan from Winthrop, MaThis song is about Syd Barrett tripping on acid holding a lime and an orange thinking they were planets.
  • Ryan from Plano, TxI always thought the voice at the start was reading military manouevers or something, until I heard that it was just planet names, which could link back to the cold-war I guess. Lyrics seem pretty meaningless "Stars can frighten?!" honestly The music's great though, but the vocals are a little lifeless.
    - Gerard, Honikiwi, New Zealand --If you listen to some of Syd Barrett's solo work, his vocals usually tend to sound that way.
  • Dom from MontrÃ?al, CanadaThis song was one of the first pure space-rock songs of that time. I think the music is great, and I like the simple way Barrett plays the guitar, a good song to discover the Barrett-era if you're a Pink Floyd fan. I think the original version is the best, I personally do not enjoy the Ummagumma version at all.
  • Steve from Ottawa, Canada"Domine" is the Latin word for "Lord". The title is been pronounced as dom-in-ee rather than the Latin prounciation dom-in-ay. And I agree with Don from San Antonio re: Voi Vod's cover - excellent. The best Floyd version is the live one from Ummagumma.
  • Alex from Fort Mill, ScThe version on Pulse is pretty good as well.
  • Ashley from Moncton, CanadaYou don't need to complicate the song with all the unnecessary analyses. Maybe it's just about space?
  • Don from San Antonio, TxSpace race? Not my guess. Try Magick. Also try Voi Vod's version. Total justice to the original.
  • Gerard from Honikiwi, New ZealandI always thought the voice at the start was reading military manouevers or something, until I heard that it was just planet names, which could link back to the cold-war I guess.
    Lyrics seem pretty meaningless "Stars can frighten?!" honestly
    The music's great though, but the vocals are a little lifeless.
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