The program has defined its own niche — a mix of ambient,
electronic, world, new age, classical and experimental music.

HEARTS of SPACE grew out of former architect Stephen Hill's fascination with space-creating, ambient and contemplative music. Beginning in 1973, Hill hosted a weekly late-night radio program on KPFA-FM in the San Francisco Bay area. What began purely as a labor of love eventually became the most popular contemporary music program on public radio. Over the intervening quarter century, Hearts of Space evolved into a multifaceted music and broadcast producer encompassing radio syndication, a record company, and now an Internet music service.

In January 1983, after ten years evolution as a local program, Hearts of Space began national syndication to 35 non-commercial public radio stations via the NPR satellite system. Hosted by Hill and original co-producer ANNA TURNER, within three years the program signed its 200th station and became the most successful new music program in public radio history, as well as the most widely syndicated program of 'spacemusic' — a tastemaker for the genre.

Now in its 34th year of national syndication, a one hour program airs weekly on over 200 NPR affiliate stations. The program was also heard nationally seven times a week on XM Satellite Radio's "Audiovisions" channel and SiriusXM's "Spa" Channel from 2001 to 2010.

Internet streaming began in 1999 on pioneer webcasters NetRadio and WiredPlanet as well as public radio station sites, and evolved in 2001 into one of the earliest subscription streaming services offering access to the entire Archive, now over 1160 programs created since 1983.

From the beginning, the program's success has come from consistently high production quality and sensitive, knowledgeable music programming. The program has defined its own niche — a mix of ambient, electronic, world, new age, classical and experimental music. Artists and record companies around the world recognize Hearts of Space as the original, most widely heard, premiere showcase for "contemplative music, broadly defined."

Quality crafting is the keystone of the HOS experience. After a brief intro, each one hour show is an uninterrupted musical journey organized around a theme, designed to create a relaxed but concentrated ambience. Slow-paced, space-creating music from many cultures — ancient bell meditations, classical adagios, creative space jazz, and the latest electronic and acoustic ambient music are woven into a seamless sequence unified by sound, emotion, and spatial imagery. A short recap announcement ends each show with the signature tag line "Safe journey, space fans, wherever you are."

Old as they are, contemplative sounds continue to evolve. Producer Hill says "What's now being called Ambient music is the latest chapter in the contemplative music experience. Electronic instruments have created new expressive possibilities, but the coordinates of that expression remain the same. Space-creating sound is the medium. Moving, significant music is the goal."

The ancient resonances of drums, bells, and flutes, the exotic tones of gongs and gamelans, the digital sounds of the Ambient frontier. Well into its third decade, Hearts of Space continues to deliver the best of the contemplative sound experience, with ambient, space and contemplative music from around the world and across the centuries.


producer Stephen Hill

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What Users Say

What is Spacemusic?

A timeless experience...as ancient as the echoes of a simple bamboo flute, as contemporary as the latest ambient electronica.

Any music with a generally slow pace and space-creating sound image can be called spacemusic. Generally quiet, consonant, ethereal, often without conventional rhythmic and dynamic contrasts, contemplative music is found within many historical, ethnic, and contemporary genres.

Spacemusic can relax the body while stimulating the imagination. Restorative powers are often claimed for it, and at its best it can create an effective environment to balance some of the stress, noise, and complexity of everyday life.

Unlike conventional background music, spacemusic does not depend on simple nostalgia (in the words of Brian Eno) "to induce calm and a space to think." Rather, it builds expansive sound images from refined timbres and offers subtle psychological resonances.

From abstract electronic soundworlds to the romantic grandeur of orchestral soundtracks, from classical adagios to delicate jazz improvisations, Hearts of Space ranges across the music of hundreds of artists to create experiences of quality and depth.