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What music would you send into outer space?

Updated on January 3, 2011
Would you send these guys into outer space?
Would you send these guys into outer space?
Artist's rendering of Voyager 2's closest approach to Saturn
Artist's rendering of Voyager 2's closest approach to Saturn

In 1977, two Voyager spacecraft were launched on a mission to visit the outer planets of the solar system. Now they have left the solar system and are in interstellar space where they will float on indefinitely into the future. On both spacecraft, a gold-plated was attached, with a simple gramophone-style player. The record was intended to serve as a calling card from Earth to any intelligent beings in the galaxy that might, by some astronomically small chance, happen upon the spacecraft. It included pictures and sounds from Earth, as well as a selection of music.

If today we were to launch another spacecraft to leave the solar system, what kind of music would you want extra-terrestrials to hear? What if the record only had space for nine songs, which ones would you choose? The original Voyager record had a wonderful diverse selection of classical and world music. Carl Sagan was involved with putting the 1977 disc together, and the playlist was chosen by music experts. To be frank, the selection doesn’t exactly represent pop sensibilities (with the exception of Louis Armstrong and Chuck Berry).

Take this poll to choose which pop songs you would want extra-terrestrials to hear. What would impress them the most about our recorded music? What would be the most representative of pop music? (The poll includes only pop music in the English language, because I thought it up.)


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Please leave comments if you have suggestions for songs or artists that aren’t on the poll.

"The Sounds Of Earth", the gold-plated record that is now in interstellar space.
"The Sounds Of Earth", the gold-plated record that is now in interstellar space.

Playlist from 1977 Voyager Golden Record


  • Bach, Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 in F. First Movement, Munich Bach Orchestra, Karl Richter, conductor. 4:40

  • Java, court gamelan, "Kinds of Flowers," recorded by Robert Brown. 4:43

  • Senegal, percussion, recorded by Charles Duvelle. 2:08

  • Zaire, Pygmy girls' initiation song, recorded by Colin Turnbull. 0:56

  • Australia, Aborigine songs, "Morning Star" and "Devil Bird," recorded by Sandra LeBrun Holmes. 1:26

  • Mexico, "El Cascabel," performed by Lorenzo Barcelata and the Mariachi México. 3:14

  • "Johnny B. Goode," written and performed by Chuck Berry. 2:38

  • New Guinea, men's house song, recorded by Robert MacLennan. 1:20

  • Japan, shakuhachi, "Tsuru No Sugomori" ("Crane's Nest,") performed by Goro Yamaguchi. 4:51

  • Bach, "Gavotte en rondeaux" from the Partita No. 3 in E major for Violin, performed by Arthur Grumiaux. 2:55

  • Mozart, The Magic Flute, Queen of the Night aria, no. 14. Edda Moser, soprano. Bavarian State Opera, Munich, Wolfgang Sawallisch, conductor. 2:55

  • Georgian S.S.R., chorus, "Tchakrulo," collected by Radio Moscow. 2:18

  • Peru, panpipes and drum, collected by Casa de la Cultura, Lima. 0:52

  • "Melancholy Blues," performed by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven. 3:05

  • Azerbaijan S.S.R., bagpipes, recorded by Radio Moscow. 2:30

  • Stravinsky, Rite of Spring, Sacrificial Dance, Columbia Symphony Orchestra, Igor Stravinsky, conductor. 4:35

  • Bach, The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2, Prelude and Fugue in C, No.1. Glenn Gould, piano. 4:48

  • Beethoven, Fifth Symphony, First Movement, the Philharmonia Orchestra, Otto Klemperer, conductor. 7:20

  • Bulgaria, "Izlel je Delyo Hagdutin," sung by Valya Balkanska. 4:59

  • Navajo Indians, Night Chant, recorded by Willard Rhodes. 0:57

  • Holborne, Paueans, Galliards, Almains and Other Short Aeirs, "The Fairie Round," performed by David Munrow and the Early Music Consort of London. 1:17

  • Solomon Islands, panpipes, collected by the Solomon Islands Broadcasting Service. 1:12

  • Peru, wedding song, recorded by John Cohen. 0:38

  • China, ch'in, "Flowing Streams," performed by Kuan P'ing-hu. 7:37

  • India, raga, "Jaat Kahan Ho," sung by Surshri Kesar Bai Kerkar. 3:30

  • "Dark Was the Night," written and performed by Blind Willie Johnson. 3:15

  • Beethoven, String Quartet No. 13 in B flat, Opus 130, Cavatina, performed by Budapest String Quartet. 6:37

Find out more about Voyager and the gold-plated record:


NASA JPL:  Voyager Golden Record



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