Symphonies of the Planets

The artist of the above track is in part the Voyager space probes themselves, who collected the raw electromagnetic data from space which were edited into the sounds you hear. The five disc set was released by Laserlight in 1992 and has been out of print for some time now, though it’s possible to hear all five discs on Youtube.

From the liner notes:

This unique series of recordings (5 volumes) is created from Original Voyager recordings of the electromagnetic “voices” of the planets and moons in our Solar System. Although space is a virtual vacuum, this does not mean there is no sound in space. Sound does exist as electronic vibrations. The specially designed instruments on board the Voyagers performed special experiments to pick up and record these vibrations, all within the range of human hearing.

The data that was collected was then further edited to make it a bit more pleasing to the ear than the raw data likely would have been, but the source of the signal itself is still signals from space, which is in-fucking-credible. The liner notes continue describing the sources of signals present in the recordings:

1. From the interaction of the solar wind with the planet’s magnetosphere, which releases charged ionic particles within a vibration frequency in an audible range (20-20,000 Hz).
2. From the magnetosphere itself.
3. From trapped radio waves bouncing between the planet and the inner surface of its atmosphere.
4. Electromagnetic field noise within space itself.
5. From charged particle interactions of the planet, its moons, and the solar wind.
6. From charged particle emissions from the rings of certain planets.

In 2012 the Voyager I probe became the first scientific instrument to leave the boundary of our solar system and, remarkably, still receives commands and transmits data back to NASA. It communicates using the Deep Space Network which is run by NASA and operates facilities around the world for communicating with Voyager and other exploratory and scientific tools in space. NASA has plans to continue using the Voyager probe until 2025, when it will stop producing enough power to continue communication.

The Voyager probe has another interesting connection to music. Unsure what they would find, researchers attached a golden record to the spacecraft in case another intelligent life form should encounter the probe. The contents were selected by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan and were meant to serve as a sort of time capsule of life on Earth. It featured greetings in 55 ancient and modern languages, recordings of natural sounds like surf breaking on the beach, crickets chirping, a wild dog, and a tame dog. It also featured a selection of music from around the world, including part of the Brandenberg Concertos, Chuck Berry’s Johnny B. Goode, and a sampling of Indonesian gamelan (which I’ve mentioned elsewhere). Interestingly, Sagan originally attempted to have “Here Comes the Sun” added to the record, which the Beatles supported, but EMI blocked because, and I’m just speculating, they’re lifeless monsters who would probably make aliens pay royalties for playing it on their superstructures. The record also had images on it representing mathematical definitions, the color spectrum, a nursing mother, and others meant to show life on Earth. More information on the contents of this record can be found on Wikipedia.

This track is the third in the series and if it grabs you then I highly recommend checking out the other installments. I snagged it a few months ago and would be happy to post any other info from the release notes if people are interested, though admittedly they are a bit sparse.

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