sounds from earth: alpha centauri remix

Yesterday, I posted something about the sound recordings that were launched into space in 1977 as a part of the Voyager mission. Among other things, I was asking if anyone knew how I could get a hold of digital copies of those sound files. Well, a reader from Atlanta by the name of Ken found most of them archived on-line, and they’re perfect for what I had in mind.

As for what I had in mind, it’s a little musical remixing project… You see, I was thinking that it would be interesting to try to create a piece of music using only those sounds, as if they were all that remained of this planet of ours. I’m envisioning it (the finished product) as something that could have been made by a group of hotrod-loving space delinquents after intercepting the Voyager and tearing it apart for scrap. (I’m picturing them all passing around a bottle and talking about where they can use the Voyager’s heat deflectors when one of them pulls out the 12-inch gold-plated copper record and says the Alpha Centauri equivalent of, “What the fuck?”)

If you don’t think I can pull it off, just listen to this track entitled “First Tools” and tell me that it wouldn’t make one hell of a percussion track? Add a few whale calls, and the occasional guttural growl of a space delinquent and you’ve got something really cool. Now I’ve just got to teach myself Garage Band and get to work.

If you’d like to join this band, just send me a money order for $100 US and I’ll make sure you get listed on the liner notes.

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  1. DR
    Posted February 27, 2005 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

    I just took a seminar on Garage Band. I’ll work on it over the next few weeks and send you something – I had the same idea, by the way. I guess that’s why were in the MPT together.

  2. mark
    Posted February 27, 2005 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    Very cool. Let’s work on this together, Dan… I’ll even wave the $100 “Be In A New Band With Mark” fee.

    Wasn’t that “Forst Tools” thing really fucking cool?

  3. Posted February 28, 2005 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Hey Mark,

    I wrote a book on GarageBand for Teachers. I’d be willing…no…thilled…to send you a copy to kick start your GarageBand project. It is written as a ‘how to’ book and as a resource for integrating music across the curriculum.

    Send me you mailing info and I’ll shoot a copy off to you.


    p.s. Please excuse the shameless self promotion.

  4. mark
    Posted February 28, 2005 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the offer, Dan. I’d be honored to get a copy.

  5. Ken
    Posted February 28, 2005 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    I found more on that Voyager record. I had been researching it about a year ago for some dumb reason. You just got me back into it. There is a book that Carl Sagan put together called Murmurs of Earth that tells why they picked what they did for the record. They re-released it in the 80’s with a disk that contains everything that is on the disk. I found some guy on-line that has the whole thing and I have about half of it downloaded. If and when I get the whole thing, I’ll send you a copy of it. You have to have the music as well of the sounds. They have strange stuff from all over. I would imagine a space guy would think the whole shootin’ match sounds like a bunch of noise.

  6. DR
    Posted February 28, 2005 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

    Dan Schmidt – I’m a teacher. Your book sounds right up my alley. I’ll ask Mark to take a look at his copy.

  7. DR
    Posted February 28, 2005 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    That “First Tools” thing sounds like no tools I have ever heard. It doesn’t even sound humanly made. It could make a cool backing track.

  8. mark
    Posted February 28, 2005 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    So, DR, maybe we could pack up the laptops and some mics and meet in a parking lot halfway between our places in the early spring.

  9. JF
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    DR? No way!

  10. DR
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 12:18 pm | Permalink


  11. DR
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    That’s an idea, Mark. Install the wives and kids in a hotel nearby, while we conduct important musical creativity in the parking lot with laptops. Oh wait, we’re broke. No money for hotel. Wives in kids in cars also, witnessing the creative process?

  12. Ken
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    With just the two of you, you can be Monkey Power Solo.

  13. mark
    Posted March 1, 2005 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I like the idea of a solo project with two people, but this wouldn’t fall under the MPT umbrella. Our MPT rules are pretty strict. No, this would have to be something new altogether.

  14. [steph]
    Posted March 2, 2005 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    A few years ago, I was very interested in the Voyager thing. I listened to the recordings, but mainly I liked the choice of images. I was going to make some sort of art project with them, but it never went anywhere. You might check those out, as I remember some of them being pretty odd. The one with an old person licking an ice cream cone was my favorite, though I could be remembering it wrong in this description (it may just be wishful thinking that it was an old person, but there was definitely an ice cream cone involved).

  15. Posted August 10, 2005 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey.. the Voyager record is a treasure trove of fun ideas to doodle with. I just finished an 18 month journey with it myself. Wrote and recorded a symphony called “A Commencement Symphony for the Voyagers 2 and 1” . And threw in a series of “addendi” that were little musical/sonic/mathematical sketches that I thought should’ve been included on the original record.
    Last month, I went up to an outdoor festival in upstate New York called “Tune Out”, and broadcast them into space. (conceptually anyway.. we were usng low wattage transmitters).

    and yes.. the short lived “Murmurs of Earth” is your best source for info. It has the full recordings on 2 CDs, plus an extensive book written by the whole Voyager team that explains their motives for each song/sound/and image. I found my copy on, there’s still a few floating out there.

    good luck and have fun.

  16. mark
    Posted August 10, 2005 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant! Do you have the stuff available on-line somewhere, Eric? I’d love to hear it, or see footage of it beig broadcast.

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