Since the dawn of time, mankind has been curious about life on other planets. In our quest to find other lifeforms, we’ve sent an array of probes, waves, signals and spacecraft into the unknown. Along with these efforts, we’ve also sent audio recordings and songs into deep space, with the hope that aliens will find them and send back mix-tapes of their own.
National Hearing Care have compiled a playlist of songs, all of which have been sent up into space. They vary from classical pieces to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B Goode”, the cadence of human languages and more. The first ten tracks were launched into space aboard the Voyager space probes in 1977 and are songs that space agencies believe best represent humanity. Find out everything you need to know about space probes here.
“Greetings in 55 languages” features multiple staff from the foreign language departments of Cornell University in New York. A greeting of “Hello” was recorded in multiple languages such as Ancient Greek, Latin, Swedish and Polish. A record of 55 greetings was created, with the intention of sending it out to space and introducing ourselves to potential extraterrestrials.
Natural and manufactured sounds share airtime here, and include the twitter of birdsong, the howling of wind, and noises from transport and machinery. “The Sounds of Earth” introduces our most common sounds and noises here on Earth, which may be new to those living among the stars.
Bach’s “Brandenburg Concerto No 2” is the fourth track on our list. One of Bach’s most celebrated pieces, it contains recordings of solo flute, oboe, trumpet, violin and other instruments.
The hypnotic percussion from the African country of Senegal are featured on this track. Its rhythmic beat makes you want to get up and dance or tap your hands on the table.
“Johnny B Goode” is certainly a modern classic and a great choice to send out to space. Actor Steve Martin, hosting an episode of the television show Saturday Night Live in 1978, joked that aliens had intercepted the Voyager probes and replied to Earth, saying ‘Send more Chuck Berry’.
“Gavotte en Rondeau Partita Nº 3 in E major”, by classical composer Johann Sebastian Bach, is an elegant musical piece. A ‘partita’ means a piece of music for one instrument, in this case, the violin. This song was sent to space within the 1977 Voyager spacecraft.
This extract from Mozart’s famous opera, The Golden Flute, is sung by Edda Moser, a German soprano. Titled “Queen of the Night”, the song is a threat. The queen demands her daughter kill the queen’s husband or be disowned.
This is one of Beethoven’s most rousing and best-known symphonies. Around the age of 26 Beethoven began experiencing ringing in his ears, now known as tinnitus. His hearing became progressively worse, until the age of 44 when he was completely deaf. Luckily for us, this didn’t stint his creative capabilities as Beethoven continued to use his imagination and memory to conduct.
“Flowing Streams” is a composition by Chinese composer Kuan P’ing Hu and features the guqin, a seven-string Chinese zither. This is the longest musical track on the Voyager record, playing for nearly eight minutes.
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded “Space Oddity” while he was orbiting Earth in the International Space Station in 2013. Apparently, David Bowie loved Hadfield’s rendition, referring to it as the most poignant version ever recorded.
In 2011 a collaboration between NASA and rapper will.i.am produced the song “Reach for The Stars”. The song was created to commemorate the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars. Following its creation, “Reach for The Stars” was uploaded to the Rover and played on the planet, making it the first ever song to be broadcast from another planet – 300 million miles away from Earth!
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And for more information on music, sound, hearing care and hearing health, check out the NHC blog.