In the late 1970s NASA sent a pair of probes on a one-way mission into the depths of space. Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 sent back some observations along the way, and while we knew we’d never actually see the spacecrafts again, we couldn’t rule out the possibility that someone or something might come across them some day, so a team of scientists included a gift. Each probe was equipped with a single copy of NASA’s “Golden Record,” which includes highly scientific directions to our planet along with a collection of sounds and music that tell a brief tale of life of Earth.

Now, decades later, the contents of that historic relic are being released in a special edition package with audio tracks that are remastered from the original recordings. Yes, you can now pretend like you’re an alien and try to imagine what otherworldly civilization could have sent such a remarkable mix of sounds.

The Golden Record was packed with classic music sourced from all over the world, along with separate audio tracks that included the greetings of over 50 different languages. The first track is a greeting from Earth, and a lovely recording called “Sounds of Earth” features various animal and nature sound effects, intended to paint a vivid picture of Earthly life. The full track listing is as follows:

  1. Kurt Waldheim – Greeting from Kurt Waldheim, Secretary – General of the United Nations
  2. Greetings in 55 Languages
  3. United Nations Greetings / Whale Songs
  4. Sounds of Earth
  5. Munich Bach Orchestra/Karl Richter – Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F Major, BWV 1047: I. Allegro (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  6. Pura Paku Alaman Palace Orchestra/K.R.T. Wasitodipuro – Ketawang: Puspåwårnå (Kinds of Flowers)
  7. Mahi musicians of Benin – Cengunmé
  8. Mbuti of the Ituri Rainforest – Alima Song
  9. Tom Djawa, Mudpo, and Waliparu – Barnumbirr (Morning Star) and Moikoi Song
  10. Antonio Maciel and Los Aguilillas with Mariachi México de Pepe Villa/Rafael Carrión – El Cascabel (Lorenzo Barcelata)
  11. Chuck Berry – Johnny B. Goode
  12. Pranis Pandang and Kumbui of the Nyaura Clan – Mariuamangɨ
  13. Goro Yamaguchi – Sokaku-Reibo (Depicting the Cranes in Their Nest)
  14. Arthur Grumiaux – Partita for Violin Solo No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006: III. Gavotte en Rondeau (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  15. Bavarian State Opera Orchestra and Chorus/Wolfgang Sawallisch – The Magic Flute (Die Zauberflöte), K. 620, Act II: Hell’s Vengeance Boils in My Heart (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart)
  16. Georgian State Merited Ensemble of Folk Song and Dance/Anzor Kavsadze – Chakrulo
  17. Musicians from Ancash – Roncadoras and Drums
  18. Louis Armstrong and His Hot Seven – Melancholy Blues (Marty Bloom/Walter Melrose)
  19. Kamil Jalilov – Muğam
  20. Columbia Symphony Orchestra/Igor Stravinsky – The Rite of Spring (Le Sacre du Printemps), Part II—The Sacrifice: VI. Sacrificial Dance (The Chosen One) (Igor Stravinsky)
  21. Glenn Gould – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II: Prelude & Fugue No. 1 in C Major, BWV 870 (Johann Sebastian Bach)
  22. Philharmonia Orchestra/Otto Klemperer – Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, Opus 67: I. Allegro Con Brio (Ludwig Van Beethoven)
  23. Valya Balkanska – Izlel e Delyu Haydutin
  24. Ambrose Roan Horse, Chester Roan, and Tom Roan – Navajo Night Chant, Yeibichai Dance
  25. Early Music Consort of London/David Munrow – The Fairie Round (Anthony Holborne)
  26. Maniasinimae and Taumaetarau Chieftain Tribe of Oloha and Palasu’u Village Community – Naranaratana Kookokoo (The Cry of the Megapode Bird)
  27. Young girl of Huancavelica – Wedding Song
  28. Guan Pinghu – Liu Shui (Flowing Streams)
  29. Kesarbai Kerkar – Bhairavi: Jaat Kahan Ho
  30. Blind Willie Johnson – Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground
  31. Budapest String Quartet – String Quartet No. 13 in B-flat Major, Opus 130: V. Cavatina (Ludwig Van Beethoven)

From Beethoven to Chuck Berry, there’s a lot of quality music here, and if aliens do one day sit down to listen to it all they’ll no doubt be interested in what they hear. Of course, there’s also the possibility that giving aliens directions to find us could prompt them to wipe us out entirely, but we’ll try to look on the bright side of things for the moment.

The recordings will be made available on two CDs, along with a 96-page hardcover book containing the backstory of the record and the Voyager mission, along with print outs of the images that were also encoded on the record. It can currently be pre-ordered for a pretty reasonable sum of $50 with shipping in time for Christmas.

View Comments